As Hip Hop ages It has become a strain on the genre to create a movement or style, and the easier to hashtag the better. This has lead to a lack of authenticity and heartfelt sound as the gimmick takes centre stage. Chicago based rapper Tree is a rare standout in a sea of diluted and warn out trends. The reason being that his personality, past experiences and soul are an integral part of the movement. He calls it ‘Soultrap’. Drawing from this inspiration he has simistaniously created a movement, genre and sound that is undoubtedly all his own creation. Shuf spoke to Tree on Soultrap, using his voice as an instrument and being a rapper from Chicago who isn't connected to the Drill scene.
How was Soultrap created?
Soultrap was created from an idea. Me and my homie were recording music in the summer of 2010 and it hit him that i needed to give my sound a name. His reason for it was I sounded so unique, even my production. So if I didn’t give it a name people would steal it and it would have no history. Soultrap came up at that moment.
Your voice is very soulful and a pleasure just listen to. Have you always rapped in this style and if not how did it develop?
My voice is an instrument and just like any instrument until you learn to play it well, it sounds like noise. So the last 14 years I've been fine tuning my voice at my home studio. I still try to alter and create different sounds from my vocals kind of like Jimmy Hendricks and his guitar, it takes practice.
Soultrap is undeniably all your own create but is there anyone is particular who influenced it?
Soul music, great singers, Otis Redding, Kanye West and my ups and downs in life influenced my sound.
Which came first, rapping or producing?
I started rapping then producing came a few days later, it was all in a weeks time. I only produced because I hated trap club music at the time I just wanted to sing and harmonise. But it was impossible with other producers at the time.
Soultrap blends elements of the blues and Hip Hop, but was there a genre you first took a liking to?
I started off in church. Church taught me singing harmonies, I was in the choir and I song alto as a child and it just carried over into my music.
What have you brought away from your time in Europe?
I found a renewed faith in myself. I performed to thousands of people, most pf whom didn’t speak english well at all. I realised how important I can be to the world. I’m the only one who does this form of soul/trap/rap/r&b/jazz and I’m unique. In broken english groups of college kids told me this from London to Amsterdam to Paris to Brussels, and I believe them.
Favourite show you have ever played?
I would have to say Paris was my personal favourite. Seeing the crowd go crazy when certain songs came on. I was definitely surprised that all these people knew me and my songs. I felt like my struggles over the years to get here were justified and exalted on the level of a Malcolm X and it all made sense then!
As a rapper from Chicago do you feel connected to the Drill scene?
Hell no! I do Soultrap. I wish all my brethren the best, but what I stand for is good music, anti violence, anti ignorance, anti bullshit, anti spray the block up, anti kill kids, anti rape, anti addictive drugs. I’m not a slave to my culture or environment. I’m against all things that keep poor blacks from achieving. Gangbanging and selling crack is the devil. SOULTRAP
You recently collaborated with Chris Crack. Is there anyone else you would be really keen to work with?
At the moment I’m working with a bunch of artists that you will love to hear over #soultrap production. To name a few, Guidance, Vic Spencer, Young King Jugg, Nesby Phipps, Brian fresco from the #savemoney clique and a some others as well stay tuned.
What is your least favourite aspect of the music industry?
The business is definitely a downer, I’m in this music to change lives and instil my dominance in this sector to the world. Almost everybody else around me and with in it just want to make money. Its slavery to some, to me its life.I’ll do this shit for free, fuck a record label, fuck a deal, fuck mgmt. Im tree, I don’t have a gimmick. I’m not Kanye West. I’m not Rick Ross. I’m Tree.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Im touring and making more music. Look out for a slew of soultrap projects with other chicagoans. Mixtape with Tree x Sha Money Xl and a soultrap album with frank dukes. I have a single coming out soon "Don't een Kare" which is huge and a lot different from what I usually do but better than the others I guarantee.
Words : Jacob Roy