The biggest force behind P.O.S.—the Minnesota-based MC associated with Rhymesayers Entertainment—is his driving punk-rock sound. As a veteran punk musician who only later came to hip-hop, he retains much of the raw energy and fierce attitude of his musical beginnings. But don’t jump to the conclusion that P.O.S. makes rap rock a la Limp Bizkit or Kid Rock—the music is raw hip-hop first and foremost, with punk-rock elements interjected to fill out the sound. For instance, he’ll drop a raw bass guitar line here (his first instrument), a screamed chorus there, and maintain a steady, head-bobbing hip-hop beat throughout.
“At their very core, hip-hop and punk are both very simple music,” P.O.S. said in a recent interview with Atlanta’s Creative Loafing. “If you’re a rapper, all you need is a pen and a piece of paper, you know what I’m saying? Anybody can do it. It’s the same thing with punk and hardcore. You don’t need to be a fucking guitar virtuoso to write a really, really good song. All you gotta have is the most basic knowledge of music, and the drive and the want to fucking bang your songs out.”
P.O.S., aka Stefon Alexander, started playing bass and drums in Minneapolis punk circles in the mid-’90s, eventually recording with Building Better Bombs, which still tours. It was during his punk days that he picked up the nickname “Pissed Off Stef,” which stuck not only as his recording name but also as a way to describe his lyrics.
Audition, his second release, goes for the political jugular. The album starts with the line: “First of all—Bush—that’s it, that’s the end of it” and immediately careens into more incendiary territory: “I’ve got a message in a bottle, written in gas and oil, signed with a rag and a match, here catch.”
While most of his rap career has been spent in the shadow of other Rhymesayers talents, such as Atmosphere, with whom he’s toured through Missoula recently, P.O.S. is finally breaking into his own. His debut album, 2004’s Ipecac Neat, was promising, but doesn’t carry nearly the same punch as Audition, which seems to embrace his punk roots even more. A perfect example is the Oi! ballad “De La Souls,” wherein he chants, “No one will ever be like me.” Audition seems to back that up.
P.O.S. plays Higgins Alley Upstairs Friday, March 10, at 9 PM. Turbo Nemesis, SIMS and Shovel open. $7.