Musicheads Essential Artist: Doomtree

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First Avenue 50 photos Nate Ryan MPR
Doomtree perform at First Avenue, 2014. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
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April is Minnesota Music Month. To celebrate, each weekday this month we'll be spotlighting a different artist with special coverage on air and online. For Wednesday, April 22, we're shining a light on Doomtree.

As solo artists and together as a seven-piece hip-hop crew, Doomtree have become one of the most dominant forces in the modern Minnesota music scene.

Doomtree first formed in Uptown, Minneapolis, in the early 2000s, as a loose and sprawling collective that they describe as "a mess of friends fooling around after school, trying to make music without reading the manual." The name Doomtree was originally kicked around as a potential title for an album by founding members P.O.S and Cecil Otter, but before long it became the name of the collective that would evolve to include rappers Mike Mictlan, Dessa, and Sims, and the producers Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger.

Even in those early days, it was clear that each of Doomtree's members had their own unique voices and stories to tell. They quickly learned how to release their music independently, printing out flyers for their shows at Kinko's and burning CDs from their respective solo projects and their full crew releases to sell on their own label, Doomtree Records.

By 2005, the group convened at their first of many annual Doomtree Blowouts, which would become a yearly tradition and regularly sell out the Varsity Theater and later First Avenue. The 10th and final Blowout took place in 2014, and included 10 events stretched over eight days — which is about how many events it takes to showcase the true breadth and depth of the Doomtree crew, who together have released over 50 different albums and toured internationally.

To this day, the members of Doomtree exist in a constant state of reinvention and prolific creation. Dessa has gone on to pursue a wildly successful solo career and collaborate with the Minnesota Orchestra; four of the seven members still make music together regularly as Shredders; and the crew still join forces occasionally for explosive performances and all-hands-on-deck studio tracks, like their 2020 single "Five Alive."


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