The MC Tree EP
21 January 2014 (Scion AV)
Chicago feels like a bottomless well the way talented rappers and producers have been hitting the spotlight in the last few years. Chief Keef, Chance The Rapper, DJ Rashad and the whole gang at Teklife are just a few of the recent gems to emerge from the city by the lake. Another name that deserves to be thrown around with them is MC Tree. A Chicago native, Tree has pioneered a self-proclaimed new subgenre of rap referred to as “soul-trap.” This is exactly what it sounds like, a fusion between old soul music and trap-influenced production styles. Tree can be found singing, rapping and producing a majority of his instrumentals, as he further defines what it means to be unique in city overflowing with talent.
In 2012 Tree released the first of his two-part Sunday School series, making his first real grab for the spotlight. Between the eye opening verses, and the soulfully catchy choruses he made clear that Chi Town didn’t only have young kids representing it. Thirty this year, Tree brings to mind other rappers like Danny Brown and Pusha T that didn’t make it big right from the start.
Both chapters of Sunday School give more emphasis to the trap portion of his soul-trap and it worked wonders for him. Part of the allure of this first two tapes was in the uncut, raw sides that his production style brought to the table. The contrast between the smooth soul singing and gospel samples grates right across the surface of Sunday School. The rough and clean flirting so closely with each other made the mixtape one of the best releases from 2012. The power held within his blunt rapping and creative production was perfect for Sunday School, but by Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out, a change was already beginning to form. The 2014 release, The MC Tree EP is the completion of the drastic step in Tree’s cultivation of the soul-trap sound. Instead of hitting hard with aggressive Chicago style rapping, Tree lets loose a string of personal songs that are highlighted more by his signature singing. Though Tree has been very personal and straightforward ever since Sunday School, he reaches a new level on The MC Tree EP. More emotion is poured into these cleaner sounding songs than ever before.
Part of obtaining a deeper level of emotion on this EP is due to his seemingly more serious approach. Don’t get me wrong, Tree has always delivered with more seriousness than alot of artists, but there is a stark contrast between asking to be followed on twitter on Sunday School and being above that on his new EP. For one, it is now unnecessary, his name is out. All he needs to do to get attention at this point is keep doing what he is doing. No matter his level of seriousness at any point of his career, The MC Tree EP, exists at a higher level of professionalism than either of the two Sunday School chapters.
So where does Tree’s new EP sit with the rest of his discography? Physically above the rest on a limited vinyl pressing, but after two mixtapes its still hard to say. The idea of a mixtape not being considered a debut has always seemed a little odd to me, especially when artists then release an EP that is labeled as their first “official” release. The MC Tree EP is a nice addition to his catalog, but it will not have the same kind of effect on rap that Sunday School did. Tree has already overcome the murky bottom of internet and unsigned rappers, now he just has to grow and cultivate the little cove he has made for himself. This EP is the perfect step in that direction.
Rating: Liked It