First Spin: Tree & 110% Pure’s Mixtape, ‘Trillin”
Self-described creator of 'soultrap' sound tweaks Chicago's burgeoning drill-music scene
Sunday School, Chicago rapper/producer Tree’s mixtape from earlier this year, boldly reconfigured the crate-digging boom-bap style which defined the ’90s, and later on went grandiose thanks to Windy City icon Kanye West. In short, Tree removed all of the smooth-sailing pleasantries of ’70s R&B by slicing old records razor-thin J. Dilla-style, turning them into stuttering and snapping beats with the same nervy energy as the elbow-throwing rhythms of street rap’s prevailing trap-music sound. He branded his stammering, soul-sample style “soultrap.”
On his new mixtape, Trillin’, Tree brings his idiosyncratic ears to Chicago’s in-the-process-of-blowing-up, drill-music scene. The post-Luger aggression of Chief Keef and Lil Durk bumps into the melodic, slowed-up sound of Houston (“Woodgrain Wheel” screws a sample from Slim Thug’s “Diamonds”). Produced entirely by 110% Pure and mixed by Alex “Papi” Beats and Boogz & Tapez of G.O.O.D. Music (co-producers of “New God Flow”), it’s a slightly more radio-friendly sound for this doggedly street rapper. One thing stays the same, though: Tree’s somber Scarface-like lyricism and his pained vocal style, which has more in common with throaty crooners like Tom Waits or Captain Beefheart than fellow MCs from Chicago’s South Side. On “I Do What I Want To,” Tree sounds downright Howlin’ Wolf-like.
Trillin’ is out next Thursday, November 15th, for free (an untagged version will be available on iTunes), but you can stream eight songs from Tree & 110% Pure’s Trillin’ below, exclusively at SPIN.