POETREE MUSIC SOUNDS LIKE:
DJ MAGAZINE REVIEW 2016:
Poetree promises just what he delivers on his Inner Orchestra lp. A superb, sprawling voyage through hip-hop’s uncharted waters, mixing the traditional with the offbeat and taking cues from a variety of influences. Am I surprised? Absolutely. Am I captivated? Even more so.
I’m firmly rooted in the old school hip hop or at least, old school mainstream hip hop. I’m not old enough to remember the days when NAS and A Tribe Called Quest had chart-topping albums, but those must have been some days, right?
Nowadays there’s little in the way of mainstream hip hop that appeals to me, and “underground” artists like Immortal Technique, People Under The Stairs etc remain underground. I’m pondering on that word there, underground. Underground. As if hip hop was dead, six feet under, right? And in ways it is.
But if it wasn’t for the underground, independent acts like Poetree here it could be worse still. It’s being kept alive by those who haven’t given way to commercial expectations, selling out, doing ads etc, by those who tirelessly work honing their beats and crafting their rhymes in the spirit of true hip hop.
To quote the liner notes of People Under The Stairs’ dope album O.S.T, “As major artists traded in their DJ’s and turntables for backing bands and backup singers, underground hip hop became a symbol of suburban rebellion … It seems that in the infinite pursuit of progression, some have forgotten to acknowledge the past.” With two feet firmly forward, Poetree nevertheless hasn’t forgotten about the importance of the past.
One of the great things about DJ’ing and sampling is the almost endless ability to create sentences and hooks by sampling bits of existing lyrics alone. If a DJ don’t rap, how will we get to know his personality, his style? Why, sampling of course. Inner Orchestra’s opening track is a superbly virtuosic and confident introduction to the music and the artist, with a foundation of drums and soulful strings underlying samples from some of the genre’s most legendary MC’s. As much as it’s for show, it’s a fitting insight to Poetree’s character: self-assured and very funky. “Who’s the one you call” “Poetree” “Coming into your mind!” Grandiose enough for you?
Try the next track Muzik Power, whose opening string salvo puts you in mind of a royal procession. Well, this is hip hop royalty we’re talking about here, so I guess it’s fitting. Guest MC Headkrack rips this track up over Poetree’s immensely funky beat, flavoured with brilliant scratches, THOSE STRINGS and some guitar that clearly went out and devoured a massive bowl of soul food for dinner. Just great stuff, and it only gets better… Chronicle Dynamite ups the pace again with a wonderful DJ Premier-esque string loop before Late Night Blues transports us to a classy nightclub, sits us on a mahogany barstool and hands us a drink of the finest bourbon. I feel like I should be dressed in a dinner jacket… I’m half expecting Miles Davis to walk up to me and offer me another drink.
You see we’re only a few tracks in and the lines have already been blurred between hip hop, jazz and soul in so subtle a way it took me a while to work out it was happening. Styles are blended and coalesce in a flash of genius, staying true to the game and delivering some surprising and captivating music along the way; music that soothes, excites and amazes.
Poetree’s music stands up on its own, is the perfect compliment to a number of guest rappers and illuminates the dark cavern of modern day hip hop, pushing boundaries yet firmly indebted to the old school.
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