Tree of life
Every forest fire originates from the ignition of a single tree. And, each ignition begins with a single spark. In order for us to build new foundations, sometimes, we’re obliged to burn down the house.
We’ve all had those revelatory moments when we listen to a work of music that altered the course of our lives; that changed us from within and prevented us from ever being the same person we were before. In some small way, this is local MC and Outbox Records recording artist Tree Woods’ ultimate goal.
“The only way to change something is to destroy it and rebuild it,” Woods says with a serious face. Then, quickly smiling widely and laughing, “I’m a studio revolutionary. I’m a studio gangster, because I mean it.”
For his latest album, The Music in Your Eyes Project: Book II, which releases Dec. 6, Woods has more immediate targets in mind. He wanted to have the albums operate like life manuals for his two daughters. Book I featured a picture of his daughter Lyric, and Book II will display his youngest, Layla.
“I wanted them to see music in my eyes, how I see it at this point, and how they can use that as knowledge or wisdom years from now,” he said. “As the albums grow old and I grow old, they’ll have something like a time capsule.”
In a way, it seems this is the focus of Woods’ work: to produce quality music that will stand the test of time. He strives for longevity, and the tree is a metaphor that resonates throughout his work.
Referring to his logo, which is of a tree that has an afro and pick instead of leaves, he says, “The symbol says it all, it’s soul music promoting growth.”
And then lifting his hands into the air, “I am a tree, my arms are the branches reaching out.”
Branching out is precisely the idea behind Book II. These albums, though, were written with his daughters in mind, but like any artist with a vision, Woods always intended to influence as many people as possible. To facilitate this, Outbox records was able to get New York based MC and producer 88-Keys to produce the track “Never Be the Same Again.”
88-Keys, who has produced and worked for Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Macy Gray and Consequence, is an asset to the album, and Woods understands that.
“Outbox had enough pull to get a beat from him, and that’s what’s going to help push this album.”
But at the end of the day, Woods understands that if he can influence even one person, the potential to reach the world is boundless: “I have the talent to spark an idea. And, if I can use it as a tool, and bring good music, they’ll know their influenced to do something positive.”
Over and over he repeats that he wants to “plant a revolutionary idea” in people’s heads. By this he doesn’t mean overthrowing some despotic regime, but rather destroying the thing inside that hinders growth, that ensnares people in a trap of cyclical complacency.
“If we ain’t changing it, we must love it. If we ain’t changing it, we must love this hell we’re living in. Sometimes you have to put the fire under someone’s ass!” he says.
Or, plant the idea of change, the revolutionary idea, in their head one note, one rhyme, one beat at a time. Every ignition starts with one spark.
“I can’t go out and shoot and be violent, but I can say it and record it and broadcast it,” Woods declares. “I can go to places and bring it. Be clear with my voice, and say what the fuck I mean.”