15 Unsigned Rappers Who Should Get a Deal After SXSW

Tree

Affiliations: Gutter City
Previous Releases: The 3rd Floor; Sunday School; Pluto; The Tree EP; Wizardtree with Big Wiz; The Johnson & Johnson EP with Nemesis; The Lit with Tony Baines; Treet feat. the City
X-Factor: One-of-a-kind rapper/producer/songwriter.
At SXSW?: Yes

Tree is a triple-threat. He's a producer, writes invigorating, memorable hooks, and he can rap—that is, if you like his distinctively off-the-beaten-path swagger, at once country and urban, much like his Chicago home.

Unlike Twista, who came up on Chicago's West Side, or the recent drill scene, which originated on the East Side, Tree is from Cabrini Green. Once the second-largest housing project in Chicago, the Greens have largely been torn down, but the rapper's sound is very rooted in the contradictory influences that he experienced in that environment, informed equally by tradition, religion, and hard lessons learned coming up in one of America's more notorious locales.

His sound is completely original, chopping up soul samples at unexpected angles. He's more a 2Pac fan than a Dilla one (and wasn't even familiar with Dilla's output until a year or two ago). But his sound could appeal to this entire spectrum of rap fans, should a wide enough audience become familiar with his work.

Video That Sold Us: Young Giftz f/ Tree "Nino"

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