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"The Grand Experiment" MP3
from the album No Kings

BY DAVID RUIZ | Jonk Music

Doomtree's newest album, No Kings, is their second full length album (third if you count 2007's False Hopes) and easily their most consistent. Since the release of their self-titled album in 2008, both P.O.S and Dessa have found some success in their solo careers. Both Dessa and P.O.S. don't expand much on the style that they established in their solo albums, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing on such a collective album. The album is in line with a growing tradition of punk hip-hop records, but Doomtree does it better than almost anyone else.

What elevates this album above previous efforts is Doomtree's strength in numbers. Eight of the 12 tracks on the album feature at least 4/5ths of the collective, and three tracks have all five members. Doomtree's collective efforts have managed something that so many rappers fail to achieve: dynamic construction within their songs. The way that the team assembled each track to ebb and flow according to the strengths and lyrical prowess that each of the five members bring to the table is masterful. Dessa's melodic flow and Cecil Otter's relaxed punch-lines could've easily been drowned out by the more outspoken members, but instead the tracks are extremely well balanced between the various styling's within the collective. The production sweats pure punk, but instead of going grungy, Cecil Otter and Lazerbreak keep the beats sharp and heavy. Tracks like "Bangarang" and "The Grand Experiment" show off the production team's comfort with electronic music. They thankfully sidestep the recent trends in dubstep production and opt for their own brand of aggressive beat-constructions, almost always keeping their beats rooted with pounding drums, and keeping the "womping" to a minimum.

Thematically, the album revels in the punk aesthetic that it is well known for. "Bolt Cutter" especially celebrates an empowering anti-establishment attitude. In the hook, Stef desires to "claim all the spaces they forget they had taken." For all the punk aggressiveness that flows through the album, Doomtree's lyrcists aren't afraid of showing their spoken-word influences. Verses often overlap motifs, and individual verses are rife with compounding images and long-running metaphors. The album firmly plants itself as a new urban manifesto — and although it offers plenty of rallying points, it is never made clear where the cause is going.

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