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Itzme Review: Tree – Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out

First heard Tree through Danny Brown tweeting about him, and the song I heard didn’t really hold my attention, but eventually I came upon this Sunday School II tape and “No Faces” featuring Danny. Through this tape I heard a more depth in style and originality in Tree’s music. The “Father of Soul Trap” is such a humorous and fitting name for Tree. He’s a “hood rapper” with a very funky twang to his delivery and hooks and his production fits in that fashion, a good amount of it being done by Tree himself.

Most of the subjects are about his life, family, hoes, and just general braggadocio. “So Bad” is a storylike description of a women who has it going on with money and being the right kind of woman for Tree, looking good, etc. “Love You For That” is about how growing up Tree and his homies stuck up for each other and had good times in the projects. There are also a few other heartfelt moments on the tape. As far as other lyrical qualities, Tree sort of walks a middle ground by not really spitting any corny lines or not talking about anything; but he still doesn’t have a particularly profound wordplay, layered meanings, and complexity. He does have his moments though, like when he says “I’m on it like Gucci symbols” and then the hook on that song also. Tree is creative with his lyrics too, he does this thing where he uses contradictions for emphasis like when he says:

“I put that on my momma’s grave

she still alive, I wanna see my momma’s age”

or

“Whip so clean don’t need no ho

Ho so clean don’t need no whip

both so cold don’t know who to pick”

He also says a lot of “real stuff” which is basically bars with an air of respect and relatability; something people who are from or interact with people from the hood like. But then he repeats phrases as filler in some of his verses so there’s a bit of a trade-off in raw lyricism.

This project is littered with soulful hooks and catchy rhythms. A lot of the music isn’t so trap per se, but draws from a lot of trap influences or the trap style. When you listen to Tree you aren’t really thinking he’s just some hood dude over a simple bass/808 thumping beat (which is really only a negative stereotype of trap music music). There isn’t one bad chorus on this EP. In fact, you could consider Tree a chorus king in hip-hop off this tape alone. The voice layerings in “Love You for That” and “On It” are proof of that and the great melodies of “Trynawin” and “No Faces” are other great examples. His flow is nothing to get too excited about, but Tree shows he can hold his own with cadences in songs like “Fame” where he grooves over the mid-verse drops with deft skill. Although I didn’t really like how long he continued his “No Faces” flow into his verse. Along with his rapping, sometimes Tree “sangs”. His crooning is quite soulful and at times enjoyably obnoxious. Somewhat akin to how Future’s singing is.

Like I said before, Tree has amazing beat choice and great production skills. All his beats match his style magnifique.

I love the “Fame” beat and its whimsical sounds, it’s similar to Jeezy’s “Stylin” which also has an awesome beat.

Tree’s self-produced beats all succeed to please. As far as the ones produced by other instrumentalists, they also sound great. The tape starts off great with “Safe to Say” that has these churchlike organs to match the deep and personal subject matter in the song along with the title of the tape. “Get It” has an exciting orchestra sound that cools down for the hook where it baton passes the energy of the song to the Chicago rapper’s voice and then takes it back and climaxes in the verses.

Sunday School II is a clear representation of the current evolution in trap music and “trap rappers”. He takes the style and blends it in with his own while also putting his heart into the music. The King of Soul Trap’s choruses are among (if not the) greatest in current hip-hop which is a big deal because there is a big fork about hooks right now. A large amount of emcees are either not using hooks at all or making “money hooks” or just bland repetitive hooks just to get stuck in people’s heads like commercial jingles. With his combined talents, Tree could grow into a legendary music artist.

If I had to rate how cold this was it’d be an iceberg incoming.

My Favorites: “Trynawin” “Safe to Say” “Devotion (Get It)”

Songs That Blew Me: “No Faces” because it didn’t stack up anywhere close to its potential, still a catchy song though.

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