It seems our first excursion into the hip hop underground—where we visited B. Dolan—was a success. Nobody got hurt, we found some interesting stuff and we all got safely home without major incident. There was that weird thing with the woodpecker on the way back but we all agreed not to talk about that, right?
As we all had such fun last time it’s time to jump on Geoff’s Rap Bus again (it’s like the Vengabus, but… well, actually it’s exactly like the Vengabus. It is the Vengabus) and head to Minneapolis, there to spend some time with the magnificent Stefon Alexander, AKA P.O.S.
P.O.S. combines the attitudes, cultures, aesthetics, sounds and influences of hip hop and punk better than anyone else. He does this because that’s who he is.
“Black man with the posture of a punk cast aside ‘cause I ain’t right” — Stand Up (Let’s Get Murdered)
“When he found punk rock that first time
He rode either the nine or eleven bus line, it slips the mind
But that way they didn’t need to fit in
He asked if he could pull the bell and said “Ma, I wanna be like them”
Found his kin, brothers at school thinking tryna rewrite skin
Others are fools, never seen some shit like him” — Out of Category
This is not some chubber in a red cap co-opting a culture in order to secure the requisite amount of The Nookie. This is a genuine outsider, honestly combining his influences to create some of the best hip hop music around. You can find references in P.O.S. songs to Fugazi, NOFX, Mitch Hedberg, Isis, Nas, Bolt Thrower, The Big Lebowski, Iron Maiden… the list could go on for a very long time—and if you ever come across me in the pub, it will.
He’s done a song with Craig Finn from The Hold Steady, sampled Bouncing Souls, Underoath and Kill Sadie, played guitar in punk band Building Better Bombs, and is one of the founding members of outstanding Minneapolis hip hop collective Doomtree.
Not this Doomtree though:
P.O.S. has a lot of material, including four solo albums, all the stuff under the Doomtree banner, as well as side projects like Marijuana Death Squads and Four Fists, plus guest spots all over the place. We’ll concentrate on his solo stuff here, and we’ve picked something from each album as a nice little intro to your next musical obsession. Seriously, get your wallets ready.
Music For Shoplifting
This is a track from the first P.O.S. solo album Ipecac Neat which came out in 2004. There’s one bit in this song that references Refused and Spirited Away. That’s pretty cool isn’t it? P.O.S tells us what the song’s about at the end of the first verse: “This is for those who can’t pay the rent.” Rap songs about being skint and struggling with the realities of day to day existence? We’re a long way from Busta Rhymes and his Arab Money.
Run out of toilet paper /Find the Sunday paper /Wipe your ass with the President
This is for them thugs /Who dealt crack, but stopped /Cause they saw first-hand what crack does
This is for all the artists /Who know their work is just a drop in the ocean /But do it anyway, hoping
This is for everybody who carries the world’s weight /But stands up straight /Put a hand up, Try to relate
After a short intro, this track gets the second P.O.S. album, 2006’s Audition, off to a face shattering start. That riff! That bass! Those raps! It’s a glorious, glorious noise. P.O.S. uses this track to show off his ridiculous rapping skills, pack in a ton of film references and have a go at dull twats.
It’s somethin so ridiculous /Funny, so fuckin sick of this /Consistent lack of vision from children claimin they listenin
The rebels fell, embedded in brick /Ain’t no fuckin marble memorial /For pissed-off kids waitin for Death Wish VI /Like Bronson, ain’t got enough to flip his face to vigilance again
In 2009, P.O.S. released Never Better and I lost my shit for about six months, listening to nothing else and yelling in people’s faces that they needed to hear it. (I’m still doing that four years later, to be fair.) This album is just incredible and I could have posted every single track here but I’ve forced myself to pick just one. There simply has never been a hip hop track like this before. I must have heard this song a thousand times but I still get the chills when the drums kick in. This is one of the very rare instances when it’s perfectly cromulent to say that if you don’t like this, you need to reassess some of your key life decisions.
I’m trying not to slip, been trying not to lose footing /Loose land keeps that pressure on my kicks
But when I fall I tend to land like a ton of bricks /Stand like a man made of concrete and sediment
Fuck Your Stuff
On his latest album We Don’t Even Live Here P.O.S. purposefully moved away from the guitar-based samples of previous albums but went even more punk on the lyrics. Much like B. Dolan’s Film The Police, WDELH is a product of our times, with P.O.S. angrily channelling Occupy and Anonymous to create a collection of anarchist bangers. You can imagine hearing Fuck Your Stuff in a club and shouting along to the chorus until you realise what you’re shouting, and then you shout it even louder.
Catch me on a mission /Pissing in some convertible tryna create some tension
Or in a book discussing Christopher Hitchens /Or how to make bombs with shit you find in your kitchen
I never cared about your bucks /So if I run up with a mask on /Probably got a gas can too
And I’m not here to fill her up, no /We came here to riot, here to incite /We don’t want any of your stuff
Buy all the P.O.S. stuff directly from Doomtree, and then buy all the rest of the Doomtree stuff too.
And to close this article in a pleasingly circular way, here’s P.O.S. on a track with B. Dolan:
Until next time, please debark Geoff’s Rap Bus immediately. Many thanks.