Tree Sunday School deluxe edition mixtape review
Tree is someone you are going to absolutely love or despise. For a lot of people the kind of guttural vocal performance found on his new mixtape Sunday School will be linked to the movement of chorus dependent trap rap(in the Chief Keef realm) that seem to represent the reinvigoration or utter destruction of hip hop, depending on who you talk too. So many people mistake a southern accent for a lack of education, mistaking real lyricism for dense metaphor and eye catching internal rhyme. If you hate Sunday School it will be because of that, he starts track 10(ILL) with “And I pour champagne on b—ches’ heads.” You can look at that and see the frivolous excess, mourn the loss of an ideal. Tree understands this is how some will view him and addresses it in on “Good Shit/Roses” “This ain’t raw since this ain’t ya’ll and ya’ll ain’t do it.” It’s as simple as that, with the accent he has and the music he represents he could say the same thing that Lupe does and get none of the accolades.
Let me make the case for those of us who love Sunday School. Tree is this years most obvious link between the Chess Records blues of Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and hip hop in 2012. The same way Muddy warned that he had an axe handle pistol on a graveyard frame, Tree snarls out oddly threatening statements like “Got 2,3,4,5 chains on my clique be like King Kong” and “I hope I make 52 why I bought me 60 guns.” Both lines fit snugly into one of the best songs this year, “Check for My N—-az”. By the time he gets to the chorus he’s not only built up a head of fire breathing imagery but placed it directly on a melodic and pained flow, bellowing that he doesn’t need anyone else’s help. A minute and twenty seven seconds in he bites into the chorus and stretches the word always from a word that takes a fraction of a second to say, to a four second word. He rolls, gargles, rips, and tears at it until the moment is completely and utterly his own. Completely descended from Howlin’ Wolfs version of Smokestack Lightning, not in a way where I can prove that he took from it but where his created reality takes place as a direct result. Sunday School isn’t simply dripping with soul, its soaked in it.
Tree is not just an off beat crooning trapper, While Chief Keef and Future rely on ad libs and catch hooks, Sunday School is steeped in serious discussions on death and poverty. On “Good Shit/Roses” he spirals into some gripping family stories “Grams is on crutches she used to love us used to love her protect us from everything but not touch us. She around whoopings and liquor it wasn’t allowed.” On the title track its death “I really want to cry cause I could have been next, bunch of real homies gone god knows that I’m blessed, but if they ask me if I’m gangster I’m gonna have to tell them yes.” On “Made it” he takes a moment to sincerely tell the unemployed he feels the struggle and jumps all over the zoned out beat with one of his most impressive verses “Who the F—k knew that I’d be a rapper, I started with the trappers, I parted with the hazards of pistol fire from passers who pass us up and then blast us from cutlasses and they caddies.” No one can accuse Tree of not bringing lyricism to the table, or being dependant on the cheeky camp a lot of Trap music earns on.
He produced it entirely himself. This makes the sampling even more amazing, it’s not just about picking the right songs to sample but the right few seconds to stretch and compact into the perfect loop. The Winehouse sample on “Amy” is a perfect example, but it’s not alone, every sampled voice is in the right place. Guests like GLC, Tone Skeeta, and Mibbs from Pac Div add a lot with great verses but never subtract attention from our star. It’s his universe and others have to fit into it. The deluxe edition has two new tracks that don’t make or break it but certainly add value.
When I did my first half of the year best mixtape list I had this at ten. I was surprised to see myself place a home made project like this over monstrously momentous mixtapes by more established people, and I’ll probably continue to be surprised as I see it rise over the remainder of the year. While so many artists struggle to put together half a good mixtape, Sunday School stands as a castle of artistic vision. Its going to stand ,for those of us who love it, all year and then some.
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