Doomtree, a Minnesota hip-hop collective, has always had a talent that runs deep — maybe too deep. The group is made up of immensely talented emcees and producers, all of whom strive to reach success not only within the group but also as solo artists.
Though as a whole they’ve spent almost the entirety of their careers in obscurity, as individuals, some have seen the light. P.O.S. and Dessa, two of the group’s most prominent members, managed to release solo albums that garnered praise and popularity in the eyes of many underground hip-hop fans. But unfortunately for both the artists and the listeners, the rest of the group has, as a whole, flown under the radar.
Sims’ altitude is climbing, but he hasn’t broken through. And his new EP, Wildlife, recorded in 2009-2010 and released for free this month, doesn’t do too much to change that. He stayed with the group’s producer Lazerbreak, and at this point, his style seems a bit repetitive.
Doomtree has a signature aggressiveness. Their songs all sound supremely pissed off, and it’s part of what makes them, when they perform together, so great. But the members who achieve success outside of the group are the ones who break the formula, and in Wildlife, Sims doesn’t seem inclined to follow.
The production is tight, and the raps are cohesive and slick, but it’s not enough. This formula is supremely safe for him, and it’s a cage he seems comfortable operating in. He’s, objectively, very good and very talented, but he does what his entire group does, just not as well.
That said, criticism feels a bit wasted on him. He’s smarter and more lyrically relevant than the majority of rap artists who litter the charts. He’s better than their standard, and that’s a great start. The reality is, though, he’s not as good as he can be, and until he hits that point, his songs will always leave an unfortunately bitter taste in the mouths of listeners.