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Music Review: P.O.S. – Never Better

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P.O.S., born Stefon Alexander, is a hip hop artist from the city of lakes many refer to as Minneapolis. P.O.S. can mean a lot of things, but in this instance it is an abbreviation for “Pissed Off Stef,” something he was referred to long before the days of his hip hop career. Growing up a punk rocker, P.O.S. was not originally a fan of hip hop until he learned it was more of an alternative form of expression over a glorified music genre.

Recently putting out his fifth release, Never Better, once again on Rhymesayers, P.O.S. produced over half of the CD himself. The album was also released in a limited edition, custom, do-it-yourself edition, featuring 16 solid picture inserts with six plastic overlays, allowing the owner to create their own cover art combination. I admit to having some fun with this prior to checking out the CD.

Taking his love of punk rock, P.O.S. chose to try a new way of expressing himself and soon was creating rhymes and beats that elaborated into a style of his own. It’s hip hop fueled with punk rock suggestions, personal journeys, and accomplishments, making for a striking release.

Already making a name for himself in the underground hip hop world with Doomtree Collective, P.O.S. is slated to be touring a city near you this summer at the Van’s Warped Tour. It looks as if P.O.S. will have a fully scheduled 2009, as he has toured solo for a couple of months now and soon will be appearing with label mate, Atmosphere, in the Spring for even some more live shows.

“Sorry I took so long” is stated by P.O.S. on the beginning track “Let It Rattle.” This introduction track really proved P.O.S. has something to say with an array of statements fornicated into a rap track with excellent intense drumming. My first taste of P.O.S. was exactly what I was expecting. Adding to that taste was the intriguing "Savion Glover," with P.O.S. taking a lyric from Fugazi's "Five Corporations," and adding it to the already heavily referenced track that seemed like a non-stop expression.

“Purexed” really had a Sage Francis flow style throughout leading up to even more impressive drumming backing the chorus. I loved the energy and personable, friendly feel throughout the track. “Graves (We Wrote The Book)” was a little more urban hip hop sounding mixed with some guitar jams. Again, choice words added together with clever rhymes kept me entertained throughout the song.

“Get Smokes” was a freestyle of sorts, with P.O.S. stopping and laughing for a brief moment here and there in between his determined flow, speaking out on everything from Iggy Pop to the disturbed nation. The beats backing him were a unique mix of funk, and even at times had a record-scratching Kid Koala resemblance.

“Been Afraid” was a little more serious than the previous tracks, speaking of the misfortune of a girl caught up in a violent relationship. “Low Light Low Life” stood out with the catchy beats, accompanied by horns and keyboard, with a sweet female flow adding to the excitement of the track. This song will get the party moving for sure.

The CD seemed to start mixing things up with “Optimist (We Are Not Meant For Them),” as it started out very plain and organic sounding, with beat produced by slapping hands on inanimate objects, perhaps cups. P.O.S. concluded with a screaming and hollering refrain of sorts.

“Terrorish” mixed the rapping some more with a little hard screaming, courtesy of Jason Shevchuk of None More Black. The quick bass line kept me rocking my head long to the quick track, with P.O.S. spitting out words as fast as he possibly can. Can you say freestyle group singing lyricism?

“Never Better” continued with a stray away from the hip hop and more so an indie rock, alt rock approach, reminding me of Cooper Temple Clause mostly from the highly distorted guitars, as well as Judah Nagler, of The Velvet Teen, lending his calm dreary singing. Closing down the CD was “The Brave And The Snake,” a track that left me wanting more – and thanks to a secret track, I got my craving. The secret track was a stunning bonus and seemed to calm me down after such an exciting dose of a real hip hop release.

Never Better really grew on me throughout as I listened to the CD. It was like during each track I was reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book because I had no idea what was coming up next. The genre combination, especially the punk rock and hip hop, kept things ever so interesting to the point where I have listened to this CD over and over.

P.O.S. does not sound like he is full of himself at all during any of the tracks, and when you add that to his amazing beat creations and genus writing skills, I have nothing bad to say about this release or P.O.S for that matter. Drums, bass, a constant flow, and a serious widespread talent for expressing himself make me a fan of P.O.S. and I am pretty sure it will for you, too, if you appreciate expression and real hip hop.

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About Brian McConville