Review Summary: It’s worthy, but maybe there’s a reason that DJ’s aren’t the center of attention.
During last year there was much hype by Doomtree, the Minnesota based hip hop collective, about how many releases there would be by their group in 2010; so much that they dubbed it “the year of the Doomtree.” So far this year we have only seen two of them. The first being the yearly release by Dessa and now the solo full length release by Paper Tiger, the groups DJ (Lazerbeak will release his towards the end of September). What you’ll find on this album is mostly instrumental hip hop with the occasional guest spot by Dessa and Maggie Morrison. The beats are nothing spectacular and it probably won’t make you put down “Endtroducing” or “Cosmogramma,” but it still warrants a few listens.
The one thing that Paper Tiger did right with this album was that he didn’t use just straight beats on it. He experimented past his debut release and used a lot of vocal samples and played the piano plenty too. “2nd Day Back” goes hands down as the catchiest song on the album. Sharp piano notes, quick beats and a ghostly vocal sample make this a simple, but great song. “The Bully Plank” is catchy as well, starting off with more piano and then using more of a transisition into a soundscape of piano and noise distortion. There are some areas that could use work however, such as overusing beats, maybe moving around from the realm of just hip hop beats into electronica or industrial, just to give it that something extra that it could use to make it different.
Dessa’s first feature is on “Palace” which is going to be a hit or miss depending on if you like her voice. The vocals on this track are not as strong as some of her other work. She sings in the tone of a love ballad and I prefer her actually rapping, not singing (see “Scuffle” from the most recent Doomtree False Hopes XV
). The beats in these songs are nothing spectacular; they are bland, flat and almost non-existent behind Dessa’s voice. The other song that she appears in is two songs later and is more of the same; absolutely nothing changes from this song to the next. The last song on the album is “Cigana” which is a seven minute epic monster that actually exceeds expectations. It contains more elements than most of the other songs which made it easier to enjoy than the rest of them. The beginning of the track is mediocre, but towards the middle it takes a break and after halftime, the game is on. The beats grow heavy and sharp, there are lush, female vocal samples that can easily swoon you to sleep. Make sure to put this track on your sleep music list. Yeah you know you have a list just for that. In the end Paper Tiger puts together an album that could have been much better, but what we have here isn’t all that terrible either. Let’s just hope the lack of quality was because of his focus on other Doomtree related projects.