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All I Need is One: Tree

All I Need is One: Tree


More than a decade old, and Nas’ “One Mic” is still one of the most poignant songs in hip hop history. The opening line struck a chord with his audience, becoming a landmark phrase within the culture at large.

For artists looking to break out today, the thirst is more than real. The idea of being able to shake up the status quo through their sound sits at the forefront of the ever-evolving landscape. This idea that one person can make an impact, that all they need is “one mic, one beat, one stage…” still resonates.

Mass Appeal asked our favorite musical acts “What’s one item they can’t live without?” For some, it’s something they always take with them on stage, for others, it’s just something they got as a kid and can’t let go. Join us, as we shine the spotlight on these artists’ stories and photos behind the item they can’t live without.

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Tree Poster Aino

Hip Hop’s Savior of Soul
Reggie’s Record Breakers, South State Street, Chicago
Photos By Winston Blake

Why we love him:
He makes melodies out of raspy chuckles and just audible-enough lyrics. Whiskey-soaked verses are sopped up with gospel-fused soul samples twice removed. We’re all family here. Carefully weaving a rich history into his music, Tree tells a tale that’s much grander than one would expect. The story of American soul, and it’s evolution to present day. A story every music fan should be familiar.

Tree Crate Digging in Chicago

Perched in the dank stairwell of the historic South State Street record store and music venue, surrounded by exposed brick, masking taped posters, and stacks and stacks of old vinyl, Tree tells us the one thing he can’t live without, his soul records.

“Growing up, my father didn’t care for music being played on the radio, and even lesser about this new boom bam bop called hip hop. So he’d ride around with tapes playing Sly and the Family Stone, The Temptations, James Brown and stuff like that, just soul music.”

Tree Teddy Pendergrass Vinyl

Creating a style all his own— one that incorporates billowy, head-bob worthy beats with and southern hi-hats and snippets from music’s rich historical roots— it’s safe to say, Tree is one of the most inventive producers in the game.

“When I started making beats, I didn’t really care for what was being made popular, especially sample-based music. I’d hear it and knew it could be done better and differently. I worked really hard to perfect my craft and create a new sound combining soul samples and southern trap with a bluesy tale/heartfelt account to create #soultrap.”

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