Tree Pitchfork Review: A Big Introduction for a Rising Chicago Rapper

The 29-year-old emcee kicked off a day of stellar hip hop performances.

Photo: Chris Sweda / chicago Tribune

Tree performed for the first time at Pitchfork Music Festival on Sunday July 21. 

Rappers are notorious for proclamations of great arrogance (see Kanye), but not all of them are so egomaniacal. Certainly Tree, a 29-year-old former women’s shoes salesman and erstwhile Cabrini-Green resident was endearingly humble in his opening set on Sunday. “I’m so happy to be here with y’all,” he said repeatedly and he meant it. 

Respected in the local rap blogosphere but otherwise pretty unknown, his performance on Sunday was essentially a coming-out party, giving curious passersby the opportunity to see what the creator of ’soul-trap’—a combination of chopped and screwed, old-school R&B and trap was all about. 

Church was Tree’s unofficial theme for the afternoon: all of his bandmembers (of which they were many—three (stellar) backup singers, a drummer, a DJ, and a hypeman—wore white dress shirts with loose ties.

“Made it on our own, but it takes a long to get it, get it,” Tree rapped on his head-bumping number “Devotion", from his acclaimed mixtape Sunday School II, un-coincidentally an apt description of Tree’s slow-burning fame.

While his production is still more interesting than his rapping (the chorus of ‘White Girls: ‘white girls doing lines,’ Tree’s enthusiasm got the the large (for 1pm) crowd receptive to his music. “The king is back, the king is back,” Tree rapped on the song of the same name waving his hand back and forth. But he’s really just arrived.

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