Rapper’s fourth LP exhibits a general disregard for genre boundaries.
Louis Pattison 2012
The year 2012 has seen something of a revival in a certain stripe of gnarly, heavy, politicised hip hop. El-P resurfaced with fine new comeback album Cancer4Cure; Killer Mike took on the military-industrial complex on his track Reagan; and the masters of the form, Public Enemy, landed back in the charts with Paralympics anthem Harder Than You Think.
The fourth album from P.O.S fits pretty neatly into this resurgent paradigm. A founding member of the Minneapolis hip hop collective Doomtree, sometime hardcore punk rocker and an occasional member of leftfield RnB supergroup Gayngs, this record sees him bring lyrical grit, tightly leashed rage and a general disregard for genre boundaries.
As with past indie hip hop trailblazers Sage Francis and Why?, his flow is introspective, self-reflective, educated and keen to show it. The track Lock-Picks, Knives, Bricks and Bats functions as a kind of potted autobiography, P.O.S venomously recalling his Midwest upbringing and break in the rap game: “Didn’t get in to win / Cuz I don’t respect the game / I got up with all my friends / And picked a repellent name / I constantly recommend a little bit of disdain.”
Production-wise, it’s similarly pugilistic. The album features guest producers including German DJ Boys Noize and Gayngs’ Ryan Olson, but a good chunk is handled by fellow Doomtree member Lazerbeak, whose sound – a confrontational collage of abrasive turntablism, chopped-up drum rolls and inky synthesiser – is the best fit for P.O.S’s intense flow.
He’s on board for F*** Your Stuff, which operates as both a critique of modern hip hop and a personal manifesto. P.O.S boasts of “scuffing up your Nikes, spitting on your whip” before rhyming the line “discussing Christopher Hitchens” with “how to make bombs with s*** you find in your kitchen”.
Other stand-outs include How We Land, hitting notes of mourning and paranoia, with guest vocals from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon; and the surprisingly excellent Weird Friends (We Don’t Even Live Here), a 130BPM techno stomp that throws distinctive shapes: “Box cutter, bolt cutter, brick / Take that s***, shake that s***.”
He’s an angry man, but what do you know? He looks pretty good on the dancefloor.