It's a surreal comparison, but during the same summer that Jay-Z and Kanye West - the reigning kings of hip-hop - released their Grammy-winning album "Watch the Throne," a scrappy band of Midwestern rap pioneers holed up in a Wisconsin cabin to record their acclaimed new album "No Kings," which is adorned with a stark, black-and-white graffiti tag of a crown with a slash through it.
A seven-headed hydra of hip-hop talent, the Minneapolis-based collective Doomtree - composed of the MCs P.O.S., Dessa, Sims, Cecil Otter and Mike Mictlan, and producers Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak - is celebrating a decade of do-it-yourself excellence with their biggest collaborative tour to date.
amNewYork spoke with P.O.S. and Sims.
What's it like performing together versus your solo shows? Sims: Doomtree is like a tornado. Eyes are just rapidly moving from one side of the stage to the other, like "What am I looking at?" It's pretty fun to watch people watch us, trying to figure out who to be watching at any given moment.
P.O.S.: I think the gigantic knot made up of all the mic cords in the middle of the stage at the end of the show tells the story really well.
After 10 years, do you still surprise one another? Sims: When I hear new songs by anybody in Doomtree, even a producer just making a beat, I'm always surprised. Everybody changes a little bit with each song, each record, and every few years, there's this dynamic shift in what they're able to do as artists.
Do you feel any pressure to represent Minneapolis? Sims: If you look at pictures of the seven of us, you wouldn't say, "That's obviously a rap group." We have no pressure to do rap the way rap is "supposed" to be. We get to choose our own identity.
How do you feel about visiting New York? P.O.S.: I have a personal love for different parts of the city and different cultures, but as somebody who has just had it to the very top of my neck with capitalism in all its forms, it's difficult for me to personally be in New York for any extended amount of time. It's like a high-pressure pain town.