Review Summary: Far less in your face, a surprise considering most of Doomtree crew have leaned toward their punk upbringings. Nonetheless, No Kings is noticeably sparse on true eccentric emcee moments, instead relying on their comfortable approach as a whole.
Entering No Kings
, one would expect to be swarmed with punkish attitudes that the Minnesotan alternative hip-hop crew have garnered over the past few years of individual success. Of course, it helps that emcees such as P.O.S., Sims, Dessa, Mike Mictlan, and Cecil Otter coming together to release a far more toned down hip-hop version as opposed to each individual’s earlier releases or even highly publicized mashup Wugazi. Comparisons won’t be suffice to legendary groups like Wu-Tang, but unlike those groups, Doomtree are a sum of its parts, whereas Wu-Tang leaned upon each of their unique deliveries and dark lyricism, Doomtree cannot hold their own individually and almost become a unifying voice upon their sophomore album.
There is less divide and conquer and more unification throughout No Kings
– each emcee unable to truly separate each other in between the ultra-demeaning lyricism of one another. Fortunately, this doesn’t hinder much of Doomtree and instead strengthens the album. For one, it is their staple – lyrically they’re all here – P.O.S. and Dessa’s chemistry upon “Bolt Cutter” is one example as how close this group have become over the last decade. There is even the rare self-indulgence anthem “Bangarang,” which despite its simplicity, much like most of the production upon No Kings
, allows the album to forge an identity and style that is fast-becoming Doomtree territory. “Punch-Out” chorus, as plain as it is does wonders within the drum rolls and inter-changing Mictlan and Otter. You’d be hard-pressed not to say that the group are ultimately finding how to deliver each emcees’ talents upon some of these tracks. They don’t feel scattered, but jumbled in some moments, without much time to breathe in No Kings
, the album becomes an almost apathetic experience in some portions.
After the highly-regarded 13 Chamber (Wugazi) mashup album –a mixture of Fugazi punk musicianship and Wu-Tang classics – it would make sense for the group to enter such daring areas, but No Kings
remain somewhat tame and frugal. Definitely the indifference of each emcee seems to contribute to result. What still is unbelievably true within this Doomtree release is their somber, far more serious takes when in introspective mode such as “Little Mercy” are within the elite of hip-hop atmosphere. It suits them; despite a cold demeanor throughout some of these tracks – an almost reflective mood of their beloved Minnesota winters – they still offer more under each layered metaphor and line of storytelling. Hopefully, Doomtree as a whole, will find their way to forge each other’s voices upon their next release to the point where they each bring a keen sense of individuality, but that may not be what they’re trying to offer. Doomtree remain a collective unit, frankly, it is the strict definition of the word.