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Rock-influenced Rap group to take the stage at Gardner

Doomtree, a well known hip hop collective from Minneapolis, will be playing in Gardner Lounge this Saturday at 9 p.m. The group includes MCs P.O.S., Sims, Dessa, Mike Mictlan and Cecil Otter, and is heavily active in the Twin Cities —at least one member performs somewhere in the area once a month.

Their visit to Grinnell is part of their 2010 tour “Wings&Teeth,” which, in addition to the five MCs, features four DJs—Paper Tiger, MK Larada, Lazerbeak and Turbo Nemesis. This is the first time the entire collective has toured together.

Doomtree could be billed as a hip hop band, but that limited genre does not do justice to the group’s musical scope. Their songs draw on influences from genres such as punk and rock, which is perhaps why Doomtree lists “alternative” among their genres on Myspace. The resulting fusion is far more complex than simple raps over a beat.

The collective further breaks out of the bounds of hip hop with their subject matter. The old and still-living cliché that all hip hop songs are about violence, women and money could not be more wrong in respect to Doomtree. As a whole, their songs are more introspective and thoughtful than the typical subjects would allow. Otter’s “Demon Girl” begins with a country hook before twanging into a ballad-like rap about a past relationship. His lyric, “little bird found her bee and she suffered my sting,” could fit just as easily into a rock or goth song, with an acoustic guitar or two in the background—Otter raps it over an electronic base.

A slow, jazz-like melody introduces the song “Dixon’s Girl,” which falls somewhere between rap and soul. The song is performed by the only woman, and best-known member of the collective, Dessa. Dessa performs spoken-word as well, and this influence is apparent in her well-timed lyrics. On the other hand, the song “Drumsticks” begins with a deep-voiced rap and then awkwardly segues into a surprising flute background melody that sounds like it was taken from a far-eastern martial arts movie. Despite the flute, “Drumsticks” sounds more typical of hip hop than other Doomtree songs—even though they rap it while riding bicycles in the music video.

The concert tomorrow should provide enough variety within and outside of the hip hop genre to entice all music lovers.

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