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2 February, 2015@11:41 pm

History tells us that it is really difficult to make a decent group album. The larger the group, the more unlikely that you can make more than one great album, just ask Wu-Tang. If I was a white girl in college this is the kind of hip-hop I would be into. People used to call this backpacker music, emo-rap, I don’t know what they call it now: blog rap? What people definitely do not call this is a great album.

Yes, the members of Doomtree can still rap really well. Dessa, the group’s female member is featured on almost every hook, and her verses are some of the albums strongest. The marketing, and presentation of All Hands focuses on Dessa because that is what anyone who sees, or hears Doomtree for the first time will remember: “Oh, yeah that hip hop group with the girl in it.” Most of the members verses are solid, well above average. Some of the beats are masterful, but overall this album doesn’t have the infectious grooves to garner repeat listens. Maybe the clever lines will serve long-time fans well enough:

My name is Sims but call me David Lynch, I make em act funny/
I ain’t afraid to change lines, state, date, or face/
I’m option two when you skate or die but still survive on basslines/
At least for the next eight months/
Then I change up like it ain’t much/
– “Grey Duck”

Every track seems a bit too well polished, and formulaic in structure (see “Mini Brute”), as if Doomtree was really going for that radio crossover hit, and forgot about the sound that got them here in the first place. Mic Mictlan sounds too much like an El-P clone in his tone, and delivery on the lead single, “Grey Duck”. Although, if there are more MCs in the world sounding like EL-Producto clones maybe that is part of the Def Jux founder’s twenty year plan for world domination?

All Hands lacks the tracks with the head nod quality of some previous Doomtree efforts. With the new album opting instead for a more EDM influenced sound. There are not a ton of out-and-out misses on the album, and there are a few shining moments like “.38 Airweight”, “Grey Duck”, and “Marathon”.

Perhaps what drove Doomtree in this direction was not simply an attempt to cash in on the hot sounds, but seeing the most energetic reactions at live shows for the drop heavy tracks in their repertoire. At least the production on All Hands is not all cheesy synths, or standard golden-age soul loops, but there are plenty of tired moments. On the other side at least they are trying to meld hip-hop with the sounds of this generation. In five years (or less) this will sound dated, but it does offer a snapshot of where youth music is at right now.

This feels like the moment that the Black Eyed Peas abandoned their original female member, Kim Hill, and got Fergie to broaden their pop appeal. Well it worked for B.E.P., but they were never really that underground. Doomtree on the other hand built their following through energetic live shows highlighting their gifted wordplay, and unique beats. Are their fans ready to go full retard, or full EDM? Sure, tracks like “Bangarang” from the No Kings album dabbled in the drop, but there is hardly a tune on the new album that doesn’t sound like it is built for festival fodder, maybe the next change in musical direction will lead to greener pastures for this crew from the land of 10,000 lakes.

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7 Responses to "Doomtree – “All Hands” – @@ [Review]"
  • Battlehound says:

    Come on lads leave it out, Dandada wrote the excellent Lupe Fiasco review

  • yungplex says:

    The album on the whole doesn’t stand out anyway. Doomtree’s attempts to sound deep on songs like Marathon & The Bends fall short. They present as a manufactured collective that exists on the verge of actually being fresh. Heads ride around pumpin the new Doomtree?

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