posted September 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM CDT | 6 comments

Whether it's been The Replacements or Atmosphere, music from Minneapolis has a history for being vastly-influenced as well as edgy. Longtime allies of the latter group, Doomtree [click to view] is one of the best things coming out of the Twin Cities these days.

The nine-piece group has some familiar faces to the underground Hip Hop community. P.O.S., who released the acclaimed Audition album [click to read] on Rhymesayers in 2006, joins Dessa, an accomplished poet and emcee, along with seven other members. Jokingly, Dessa tells HipHopDX, “Doomtree is not good at counting. We don’t know how long we’ve been doing it and how many people are in the group.” Regardless of their counting abilities, this group boldly incorporates a mosaic of love, loss and the struggle for twenty-somethings to survive into genre-defying music.

Survival has been proven. After five years as a full outfit, Doomtree performs before Hip Hop, poetry and Rock crowds with something to say, something to offer and a grounded attitude in their love. Having just released their first official full length, DXnext recognizes a group who came from a place where A&Rs rarely venture, but some of music's greatest have broken out of. Perhaps Doomtree is the next.

The Logistical Challenges of Being a Nine-Person Group:This was one of the first projects that we worked on, as a collaborative manner. I feel like, occasionally, there were some challenges in trying to work together as a nine-piece [group], were also our biggest strengths in the fact that we’re a nine-piece. We have a lot resources that we’re able to pull and a lot of bright ideas to be able to act on. We met a couple times a week with pens and notepads out and playing something on repeat until we were able to pull together some verses and a theme,” says Dessa. Partner P.O.S. adds, “Even if we’re all solo emcees, coming together on these songs starts out pretty difficult, and for some reason, it just ends up working itself out. We’ve known each other for a long enough time to know, personally, how not to bump heads with each other.

If Dessa, Being Lone Woman of The Group, Has To Write For All Women At Times:I think for as much attention is paid to being the only girl, the most I think about being the only woman in Doomtree is when I’m on the phone. In that, I feels like I’m lucky enough to be rolling with a crew of guys who is interested enough in the human experience, and I can speak to that as directly as they can. I don’t know how much of our material is really gender-specific. It’s [more about] here’s my experience as a kid, trying to make friends and find love and get happy and stay safe and have fun. I think that’s as true for me as it is for any man emcee. But yeah, if they need a female voice, the task usually falls to me.

How Minneapolis Became Epicenter of Punk, Poetry and DIY Hip Hop: P.O.S. analyzes, “We’re in the top-middle. There’s so much hype about the coasts – New York and L.A., and then when you get to the middle, you’re not thinking about Minneapolis, you’re thinking about Chicago. Being in a city where everybody loves to make music and everybody’s aware that there’s no label there, you do it to do it and ‘cause you love it. So you share it with each other. We’re not a very exclusive music community, meaning different bands or different rappers will definitely end up hanging out together because they’re on the same bill or ‘cause they’ve got mutual friends. So there’s lots of people to bounce ideas off of. So I feel like growth happens way quicker here than it happens in a lot of cities because we’re all not hiding off, doing our own thing, but because we’re about sharing.Dessa deduces, “There’s a cult of the underdog here. There’s no major label here. There’s no talent scouts hanging out at your show here, you can be sure of that. So everybody develops a hustle – a legitimate business skill-set.

The Inspiration And Metaphor Behind “Kid Gloves”:I’ll speak for me," says Dessa, who carries the song's chorus. "The ‘I wrap brass knuckles over my kid gloves’ is talking about some of the ferocity that has to accompany love, which is usually a delicate endeavor. It takes a lot of nerve, a lot of resilience to be good at love and to keep love going.

On P.O.S.'s Lyric “Every Girl Is Looking For The Next Best Thing, Every Guy’s In Love With His Girl’s Best Friend”: [Laughing] “To not sort the laundry out, actually, the way that I write rhymes is, I come up with a line that I think is a cool rap line, and I’ll write it down and leave it till it’s a good time use it. I actually wrote that particular line like two solid years before I wrote that song. Just kinda…I was in a relationship, it was with a girl who was consistently saying that I need to stop rapping and get a real job. Her best friend was an artist, and also really cool and nice, and I really didn’t think much of it. It was one of those things where I’d seen that situation go down before. There’s not really too much to explain, except I felt like when I wrote it down, it was a quality line, and that it was real, and that it meant something, and that I wanted to save it for the perfect application which just ended up being ‘P.O.S. Is Ruining My Life.’

Why Doomtree Has Released Five Albums As Solo Emcees Called False Hopes [click to read]: Dessa says, “In part, that was an opportunity for us to release material on a regular basis, and faster than we can hustle an official record. For us, that series has been an ability to introduce new artists on Doomtree to listeners, and to put out material on a quick clip faster than the music industry’s trying to operate. We wanted a body of work out there to establish ourselves as solo artists and spend a couple years making a full-length.

If The Group Has Many Fans From Outside Hip Hop:
I think a lot of it comes from Minneapolis. When we were coming up, a lot of us didn’t necessarily listen to Hip Hop as the only thing to listen to. A lot of us are big fans of other styles of music. When it came time to book shows where nobody’s heard of us in the city, we’ll get together with a band, a Hold Steady or a Lifter Puller or something like that, and we’ll put together a bill that we like, whether or not people know of us. That helped all of us, with all of our influences, and made the audience way, way different than just the rap fans,” says P.O.S.

To learn more about and support Doomtree [click here].

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