Tree- The Tree EP
Chicago’s high & respected hip hop cred is pretty tough to refute; rappers are coming out of neighborhoods boasting infamously high shooting rates, dubbing a third name for The Second City: Chiraq. Drill music- initially known on Chicago’s south side as “dead music”- is rap that directly drops murder threats and gang intentions. It’s about as serious of lyrical inspirations as you can get considering the context, and it’s accompanied by a grim take on trap beats- gritty dubstep, bare bass and scurvy 808s.
30-year-old rapper Tree doesn’t alarm us quite as much as Chief Keef and his gun-loving crew. A Cabrini-Green upbringing helped to mold his sounds into soulful samples and humble lyrics, not anger or incriminating immaturity. He calls himself the father of “soul trap,” a title and style he’s proud of inventing. His voice is pure and emotional, screaming with individuality and raspy to its cold Chi core. Samples are truthfully laced with soul- think Etta James, Curtis Mayfield and Al Green- a style he’s embraced more with each mixtape since 2010.
MTV placed Tree’s 2012 Sunday School EP in their top 5 of 2012. It’s the mixtape that gave him his first round of proper attention, it’s also what led to collaborations with Danny Brown, Roc Marciano and some (really great) production work for Chance the Rapper. Scion AV, Project Mayhem and Tree worked together to create his most recent 7 track EP, a collection that might finally launch Tree into not-so-anonymous territories.
Favorites on the EP: “Probably Nu It” is big and bare, an opener splattered in catchy grime and trap rattles that frame nicely around his husky vocals. Per his sampling style, “Grace” warps Lana Del Rey’s summer hit to fit a warm and curious feeling. “God Like” lays over a prime piano riff for off-kilter flow, bits that Tree raps over with a wise sense of reflection/method for making sense of a mountainous start to life.