If you’re from Minneapolis, you’ve heard of Doomtree. Both rap collective and indie label representing them, this group of seven high school friends has been performing and creating in the city for 15+ years. After a handful of albums featuring individual efforts released under the False Hopes title, the friends released a full crew album in 2011, No Kings. Their sophomore album followed in 2015.
Since All Hands, the group has been focused on individual creation. From Cecil Otter’s Dear Echo EP to Sims’ More Than Ever and P.O.S.’ Chill, dummy, as well as a noteworthy track from Dessa on the monumentally popular Hamilton mixtape, the prolific artists have continued creating killer tracks for their passionate fanbase.
Even with these individual efforts, there’s nothing quite like hearing Doomtree working together.
So when the Doomtree spinoff group, Shredders, was announced to the public by way of a three-song EP, I leapt at the opportunity to hear the guys performing together again. Comprised of Paper Tiger, Lazerbeak, P.O.S., and Sims, Shredders brings the same polished, in-your-face joy and energy we’ve come to expect from the Doomtree crew, filtered through these four distinct artists.
Sims and P.O.S. make quite the pair of rappers, each an echo to the other.
They’re coming from the same place, but unmistakably different. Sims strikes me as a man using rap to work his way through an ever-evolving worldview that includes a significant, surprising amount of compassion and desire to learn in it. His ego is there in the forefront of his words, colouring his cadence, but so is his self-questioning.
P.O.S. brings a sense of challenging, graceful mortality to his words. He’s a man who has faced death, who remains constantly aware of his own body’s potential failure and capability to betray him. He knows he won’t live forever. And if he’s scared of that, we don’t hear it. He’s here to live. Sims is here to live. They’re both here to dissect society’s failings, and have a great time doing it.
And the beats, produced by Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak, are here to help you have a great time, too.
These two working together create a layered soundscape, full of texture and detail that rewards repeated listens. The pair know how to build tension, best evidenced in the subdued opening to ‘Ions’, which builds beautifully into an incredible banger. Then there are moments of unexpected, experimental brilliance – the brassy descent and bubbly zap of ‘Cult 45’ comes to mind. But I think one of my favourite things they accomplish is on the P.O.S. verse of ‘Wolfs’, where the beat feels minimal even as a rhythmic scratch and holler heightens his words.
The opening track of the EP, ‘Ions’, has a guest verse of the best kind.
Mike Mictlan’s appearance feels integral to the song, it feels comfortable there, and without it, the song would be incomplete. Not that this is surprising – Mike is, after all, a member of Doomtree – but, damn, it feels good to hear that familiar swagger and growl.
The guys have described Shredders as an embodiment of their group text.
There’s familiarity, callbacks, and humour aplenty on this EP, and fortunately for the listener, none of that feels exclusive. It’s a group text, and guess what: you’re part of the group.