Doomtree Returns for an Encore

Two-thirds of the indie hip-hop collective hit up Seattle for the second time in 12 months.

Whenever Twin Cities hip-hop collective Doomtree goes on tour, it simply means that some of the indie rap crew’s nine members are coming out for a visit. It doesn’t matter who’s touring (or who isn’t): The crew always bills itself simply as Doomtree. The label’s MCs are known for their personal, introspective rhymes and mostly in-house production, handled by members Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger. And yet, Doomtree’s more than a label. Its members have built the crew’s reputation by focusing as much on promoting the Doomtree moniker as their own individual projects. Which is why the label’s sizable underground following contains some of the most devoted fans in the history of indie rap. Anyone who’s been to a Doomtree show has seen the mass of kids up front making Lazerbeak’s trademark hand sign (it looks sort of like a bird) and mouthing every lyric like obsessed understudies.

That level of national success is something Sims, one of Doomtree’s oldest members, says he couldn’t ever have predicted. “I never really expected to be doing this at all into my 20s,” he says. “It was something we did because we loved to do it. I never thought that I was going to do this beyond a certain age.” Or, he adds, as a full-time job. Sims is 26, Doomtree is almost 10 years old, and P.O.S., one of the label’s founders, has gotten the label more attention simply by maintaining dual citizenship in Doomtree and Rhymesayers (the label that releases his albums). Members of the collective have played here twice in the past 12 months. This time, it’ll be Sims, Cecil Otter, Dessa, Mic Mictlan, Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak—onstage together.

Sims, who’s only released one official full-length, promises that something new is in the works. When he went on tour with P.O.S. earlier this year, he threw together a last-minute EP, Falsehopes XIV, to tide fans over until next year’s full-length. “It was a record that I put together in a week before we hit the road,” Sims says. “Lazerbeak and I are working on a full-length, but we’re waiting for the right time to release it.”