Reviews Doomtree No Kings


No Kings

It’s not hard to find something to say about Doomtree. The 7-headed monster has enough disparate characters that I could fill the proverbial pages here without even addressing No Kings, their second official full-length. The band recently made some internet waves with the mash-up Wugazi project—which is where I’ll start since the opening track, “No Way,” begins with a guitar bit and chanting vocals more akin to post-punk than to any hip-hop crew.

If there’s one thing Doomtree has always been willing to do, it’s jump around in styles. Their previous full length ran over twenty tracks and this mishmash caused some pacing issues, making it feel way too long without a solid flow. The 12-track approach here works to their favor. Instead of the vocal tracks and instrumental intermissions, they use slower, drawn out tracks like “No Way” and the spacey beats of “Bangarang” and “The Grand Experiment” to open the door to each new lead emcee.

With five rappers, there’s no dominant voice on the record. The varied tracks give each rapper a fair shake, though P.O.S. often steals the show with clever, winking lines in his approachable, aggressive style. The songs tend to stick to given topics even when they hand off the microphone, giving rounded voices to their subject. As for those subjects, well, there’s the obligatory “mainstream rap all sounds the same” song, but other than “Bangarang,” No Kings sets its aims high. “The Grand Experiment” attempts to examine human evolution in the span of 3:46. Rather than offering an insightful reflection, it mostly comes across as a grand experiment itself. It’s followed by a song titled “String Theory,” which should express that the topics here can come across a bit weighty.

The beats come from a variety of sources, primarily Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak, but also from the rappers themselves—something that sets Doomtree apart from many collectives and it gives a more cohesive feel. Doomtree songs tend to start with a big, clangy beat and then diverge into more elaborate sequences, reflected well with something like “Gimme the Go.” There’s also a brilliant bassline in “Fresh New Trash” that sounds like a funky NES game—not really relevant to my previous point, but I wanted to find a way to reference it.

For a collective that has, at times, shown bloat on their records, No Kings is an ideal length to showcase their strengths. Keeping things trim and to the point not only helped the group to put out the record at a much quicker rate, but it also captures their energy and flow better. Standouts include “Bolt Cutter” and “Beacon.”

7.5 / 10Loren
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7.5 / 10

7.5 / 10

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