A sense of family was crucial in unifying the crew, especially in the early days, when times were lean and most members resided in one house. "In the basement," says Dessa, "there was this really dirty, beat-up recording space where you'd open the door and hear the chime of empty beer cans being brushed aside. Also, there was the idea that when you're broke and have this very distant dream that doesn't seem very likely, when you needed encouragement, you looked to one another. We had this shared objective that was, in a lot of ways, unreasonable."
Dessa's talents gave the crew a creative boost. On her Doomtree-released full-length solo album, A Badly Broken Code, her words practically spill in cursive, with sleek Sage Francis–esque verses giving away the fact that they were written by a published poet. She's the rare MC who can also sing, and she blends rhymes with croons. The rap-infused waltz "Dixon's Girl" is the kind of stylistic mash-up that could come off as hoky if it weren't delivered with such panache.
This enterprising spirit has allowed Doomtree to blossom into something big. Apart from a bevy of record releases, they've done a variety of tours. The Middle East date is part of their first national run encompassing the entire crew. At home, they conduct weekly business meetings, and some members even have official responsibilities (Dessa does publicity and is the CEO.) "We had a shared dream together for a lot of years," Dessa concludes. "It isn't perfect, but we have a shared reality together. I've got a second family in an era where many people don't have the strength of the first."
DOOMTREE "WINGS + TEETH TOUR" | Middle East downstairs, 480 Mass Ave, Cambridge | November 27 at 8 pm | 18+ | $13 | 617.864.EAST or mideastclub.com
READ:Catching up with Doomtree's other six.
: Music Features
, Minneapolis, hip-hop, Stefon Alexander, More