Chicago rapper and producer Tree has an admittedly unusual name, but it's one that reflects his unique approach to music. The rapper is a member of the group Project Mayhem, whose track "Just Chill" (from the album Mayhem Machine) was recently in rotation on MTV. The group has a suave and sophisticated style—the video for "Lo Sweatas" memorably featured a Cadillac with externally-attached chandeliers—but Tree's approach goes against the grain of the group. Unlike the rest of Project Mayhem, who came from the west side of Chicago, Tree was raised in the Cabrini Green housing projects on the city's near north side. Where the rest of the group epitomized cosmopolitan sophistication, Tree was humble, with raw, country-fried charisma.
He pushed out on his own a year ago with solo debut The 3rd Floor and followed up more recently with his mixtape Pluto, the Tree EP and a joint release with Chicago rapper Big Wiz entitled The Outtanowhere EP. His production style is unconventional, organic but nontraditional. His voice has a distinctive slur and makes for memorable hooks, as on The 3rd Floor highlight "My Ether". Lyrically, his modus operandi is to avert cliche. "Texas Tea" features GLC, who is going through a creatively fertile period of his own. The track, from an upcoming album with all Chicago artists entitled Tree feat. The City, finds Tree visiting Atlanta's Magic City strip club over a lo-fi soul sample.
Download: Tree f. GLC, "Texas Tea"