P.O.S. might look like the obvious star of this sun blazing "Guest Apartment" session, but the Corona Park rug rats that spent the day rolling, grinding, and tumbling (yeah, we saw that...and we caught it on camera too.) about this multi-million dollar skating facility offer equal entertainment, not to mention a fitting backdrop for this performance that ensues. OK, so we're not in The Guest Apartment for this one, but that doesn't mean the genre tripping rapper from Minneapolis doesn't feel right at home here. In conversation P.O.S. - real name, Stefon Alexander - touches on his own love for skate culture, crediting it for introducing him as a young kid to the most important aspects of his life. Hip Hip, Punk Rock, Hardcore: all three have provided the vital soundtrack to millions of kids on decks over the years, so it's no surprise that P.O.S. does the same with his craft and his performance. In this, our latest segment of The Guest Apartment, we place you directly in the middle of the intersection of skate culture and the enthralling soundtrack that accompanies it. It's the sort of video that'll have you reaching for your headphones and your deck the moment you queue it up. - David Pitz
Don't let 'em get a handful See 'em with a handle of jack Or crossed fingers of the hands behind their back With a knack to trust and disrupt Lose trust then change the rules up And who's up for tax cuts, hidden estates with like really long driveways Crime pays Rats in the hall way Aim for the crack Fuck minimum wage It goes, anyways Sippin' on a dry gin Heavy headed livin' in and out of my skin And living livid Glad for the chance Glass full of gas with a rag in the other hand Wild like a Taliban Wild like a child slapped in the grin Black be the skin Packed full of carbon Packed full of cardboard, hey, hey There's eyes in the back of my head Hold up, the buck stops disintegratin' here The fear generator's here y'all Deviatin' clear past the consumer, room for improvement Trade spaces with some doom and gloom Renovate with the renegade Skate like the centigrade dropped Consider the cold copped like a motorcade And roll away contagious Infect the vacant Good the fuck gracious Gotta debase the basic Erase the facelift Taste a bad case of the breaks and heal Create the makeshifts Swagger like it's yours and debate whatever you don't feel Don't come "Knock knock, who's there? Boo, boo, whoing" Live a little better than a bad joke Who ruins? Chew through your wrist Come on y'all There's eyes in the back of my head I want to blind it, I want to blind it And if I found the one who put my foot in the sand And other heavy hearts Oh, oh, oh Make it impossible to cleanse his sins So unforgettable So unforgettable I-oh, oh, oh, I-oh, oh, oh There's eyes in the back of my head Oh, oh - When people ask what we sound like, I tell 'em that it's hip hop. It's just maybe a little more aggressive on the music side, the production side, and the lyrics tend to be about more grounded in reality kind of things than a lot of rap music. Not saying that I'm any better than anybody else, I just wanna rap about things that I can relate to in a way that isn't necessarily exciting, and happy, and partying, and spending money, and gettin' chicks. Whatever. I think a lot of people who weren't expecting to like me got into it and a lot of people that don't necessarily like rap got into it. A lot of rappers that don't like weird, art rap got into it. I don't know. I feel like I put it out and stop thinking about it. Just play the songs and the next time I look back, there was more people that were feeling it than I expected. And I'm gonna try to continue to not really sweat other people and what they think about it, and make another record and see if anybody likes that one too. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah I pick a lot of rocks Rock a lot of shows Build with the moms Hang with the broken crow I've been hurtin' the same heart since I was like two I use sarcasm freely Bark at the greedy Bite what feeds Shy from the seedy I'm bold in approach So rely on the hope That them average MCs can't fuck with or sound like me Never been down with the king It's never something I wanted to be Never better than the work The toil and the reap But the work for the wants Not to suffer for the needs Nothings tougher than the Dreams and good sleep Tryin' to teach my son how to reach Damn right It gets a little darker every night And the rent goes up They gonna cut out the, yeah Dead ends to chase Feelings to fake New hearts to break Amends to make They all so Afraid and safe In need of space But hugging that crowd Only shake with the quake And, yeah, times like this are up Yeah, yeah, yeah We break their strides cause we break our mirrors They huggin' that pride like it's all there is We make our own and if they don't feel it I made this beat for Allegra Oxborough She showed me how to do the thing with the cups I wrote the verse On a triple double Right in the back of the back lot Never made it in I never really can tell the friends these days Telephone don't sleep some days Someday, I'll be peaceful again 'Til then keep my speech to a min Shed a little skin I'ma I'ma set it off and run I'ma kill it 'til its dead I'ma do it 'til it ain't fun and the words don't come Then I'm gonna find another hobby Probably find love Probably find trust 81 and young with a little bit of rust Clean interior Minnesota plates Money in the bank With a With a Dead ends to chase Feelings to fake New hearts to break Amends to make They all so Afraid and safe In need of space But hugging that crowd While we shake with the quake And times like this are up Yeah, up for whatever We break their strides cause we break our mirrors They hugging that pride like its all there is We make our own and if they don't feel it Then we are not for them Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah Yeah, yeah - I, man, when I was younger I skated everyday, all the time, constantly. I went skating last week with Paper Tiger and Eric Carlson, a few good friends of mine at this place in Northeast Minneapolis. And we worked on boneless's and strawberry milkshakes and little ground tricks and figure flips, but nothin' too big, nothin' too fancy, definitely nothin' too fast. You find a mini ramp, I'll ride that around. It's fun. It's like the most fun. It's one of those things where if you just wanna ride around, you're havin' fun ridin' around. If you wanna work on tricks and try to get your tricks, you're havin' fun workin' on gettin' your tricks. I got into Minor Threat and Punk Rock. All the stuff I got into early, I got into because I was skateboarding. I met other people that skateboarded that were older and they had tapes and they were like, "Take these tapes. " A lot of things in my life, probably most things in my life came to me through skateboarding as a young kid and just meeting the people I like. And that turns into hearing bands I like. And that turns into going places I like and exploring in urban areas, trying to find places to skate. I don't wanna, like, put myself in skate culture. If skate culture finds me and they're into it, that's a totally different thing. But, like, I don't know, things that try to put themselves in skate culture tend to come off pretty corny and kinda silly. And, like, they're obviously trying to put themselves in skate culture and I don't think it works like that. I think that skateboarding and Punk Rock and, like, you know, true Hip Hop, and anybody who's just on some art, isn't really sweating what other people are doing or whatever. They're tryin' to, like, make sure their friends and themselves are as happy as possible and that they're creating something that feels good. A world where the world ends At the end of your block And them little whirlwinds spin friction round the clock I'll be savage, hunt and gather \the average rather cadaver Cock back hammer, splatter matter all over cell phone and calender No peace, yeah In the middle of a war zone Riddle when the norm thinks slow No sleep, yeah With the shades down low On the down low Fightin' for the dream I creep, yeah, all secrets please I don't need to speak I'm paranoid like a man in the land of the free To set up to let us burn and turn cheek, yeah Stop with the octagon, top your block, I'm gone Off my rock, no songs, no more locked, yeah Just a little bit of prison for everyone of us We won't listen 'til there isn't anymore of us These days we're quick to part ways with rights like "okay" Here, let's be clear, for the record, I did not sign up for lockdown Or any kind of shock and I'm so bored Y'all must of forgot just who you're dealin' with Nothin' less than aggression, so naked, so crystal clear With a trust in absolutely fuckin' nothin' but Doomtree Step up your thought game lame, we're all thirsty! It's like they leave us no option Walkin' these streets, heat just watchin' These preachers speak from their pockets These teachers, all right Reach but can't stop it The seedlings so poisoned So lost and follow Prophets to nonsense Tossin' what's right to the dust And I ain't no casualty Got no surface with spotless morality My dirt might have to cover up my graves I keep my fear of faith Filth clutter up my cave You got me lookin' for disinfectant I'm so bored Y'all must have forgot just who you were dealin' with Nothin' less than aggression Make it so crystal clear with a trust Absolutely fuckin' nothin' but Doomtree Step up your thought game, lames We're all... - This one's called "Purexed. " It's about that one time. I'm tryin' not to slip Been tryin' not to lose footing Loose land keeps that pressure on my kicks And when I fall I tend to land like a ton of bricks Stand like a man made of concrete and sediment like Fuck your skin Nobody needs it There's bones, muscle and blood What's realer than fat and tendons It's raw No soft tissue to draw your eyes to it And it ain't the truest at all Let's rip into it We all sick of the missed shots Passed over like the last man picked No team, so pissed off That's not honesty That's just soft curves got your world flipped Got you makin' mixtapes for girls And that's the skin again Let's blame the skin again Stretching itself so fluidly over these awkward ligaments I didn't shave today I'm never shavin' again but I probably should Back to the wall Crush it Laugh at 'em all Let 'em try to find the beauty in your face Somethin' more than a song Come on Let 'em try to find the beauty in your bass line But then them words don't change We won't sing with what'll fade away Yeah, we do our own damn thing We don't blink at what tomorrow might bring at all Yeah, yeah, yeah But when them words don't change We don't sing with what'll fade away Yeah, we do our own damn thing We don't blink at what tomorrow might bring at all This small group right here. In us we trust No rush for bucks, no Them words from love, no hits I let the track stand like how it was written is how it hit me Or road cycle kids with the grip to skid a fixies A rogue wild kid with a stroll that let it roll like whatever They kick that gingivitis Them rappers got the itis Catch me bumpin' isis in a crisis Instead of watchin' y'all count and lead sheep At the same time What's the science of that? I know that is sweet But where the movement is at We in that coma capital Spotless home team Hands steadily Purexed but never quite clean Bloody as hell Rarely will I care for some garbage like And Plain Ole Bill's not here either, but I know he feels the same way. You guys agree with that, right? Probably? That's good. Back to the wall Laugh at 'em all Let 'em try and find the beauty in your face Somethin' more than a song Come on Let 'em try and find the beauty in your bass line But when them words don't change We don't sing what'll fade away Yeah, we do our own damn thing We don't blink at what tomorrow might I said fuck it Back to the wall Laugh at 'em all Let 'em try and find the beauty in your face, yeah Somethin' more than a song Come on Let 'em try and find the beauty in your bass line But when the words don't change We don't sing what gonna fade away Yeah, we do our own damn thing We don't blink at what tomorrow might bring at all At all - I think instead of saying tada for cameras, we should just tell the cameras that the next time you go into your bathroom, you brush your teeth and you smile, in the morning go, "Ta-da. " On this next record? I don't wanna give too much away, just because I haven't put it in stone yet, but more minimal beats than I've done before, ever, but still really aggressive and still probably real snarly. When it's pretty, it'll be way prettier this time. And when it's loud, it'll be way louder this time. That's it. I feel like the vibe this next time around is to take everything and then just like make a beat and then just over do it and add too much, way, way, way too much and then scale it back until it's the right amount of two or three parts. Do you know what I'm sayin', man? - Let it rattle, by P. O. S. , featuring Deathsquads. There ain't not body to be pretty for, fuck it Let it rattle Let the clatter kill' em Let the cataclysm wash Who really listens? Precision with a verse draws a crowd I draw a line between an easy melody and peace of mind I keep the game tweaked Freak the same to its own thing I spit the plain pain Econolines for the dime class It's a god damn recession Show a little respect You Pfizer babies Look at how they hate Pilled out Bounce their liver off their top eight Who got a fix for the fix Bush no more Nobody's like "Dufresne, search party of four Tell me, who's eatin? I mean well Who's beaten shell toes Kick a hole in who's cheatin' Hell, need it while you can Serve get swerved get sleep Buy it up Ready They ask presidents to represent them You think a president could represent you? You really think a president would represent you? My name is P. O. S. Bold from the go to the goal To them ice cold bones Freezin' in that Minnesota snow Heatin' up the winter with the flow They make it rain Rain go away Come again brave Or when you bring a bit to help us grow We them pro parade rainers Presented by the Doomtree Sponsored by the Rhymesayers No brainer If you aim at the aimless The same small change Big drain on my... My act, my scene, my play, my style, my... All day, all style, plus guts, cap cut, No fresh, no clean, all press, yes mean Removed Lose the cool Choose whatever behooves the dude Move through any mood with ease Ravage the rules Ravishing rule Randy Savage the fools Handy with tools Cuttin' my own key Cattle to meat Sheep splitter Kennel killer Handmade handgunner Fanblade runner Promise of skill Better than blessed Promise of stress Livin and breathin Mother fuck all the rest Right, right, right, right, right, right. They hide their eyes and can't describe What they been missin' They fire blind and can't describe What they been layin' down They lay it down They hide their eyes and can't describe What they been missin' They fire blind and can't describe what they been layin' down They lay it They hide their eyes and can't describe What they been missin' They fire blind and can't describe What they been layin' down They lay it down I can't tell if it's the bees or the sting The honey or the wax or the wing But people just Wal-Mart what they worth Rollback They don't get to pick what you deserve What exactly do you do, sir? What exactly do you do, miss? Tell me who the hell are you? You're out of your element, Donny Shut up Double double eat up Ride The Dude abides They hide their eyes and can't describe What they been missin' They fire blind and can't describe What they been layin' down They lay it down - All right. I wish Plain Ole Bill was here. I think that's it. This is P. O. S. You're watching Baeble Music. Check out how we rocked it and check out anybody and everything that you want to. Have fun. Enjoy yourself.
Most of P.O.S' recent album was written in a moving car. On it, he raps at full-clip to ride rolling drums and revving distortion. There's an urgency that he keeps in careful check, and then unleashes for spring-loaded verses that represent his best work. P.O.S built his reputation as an innovator, with an unlikely punk rock past and expressive, honest content. He re-earns the accolades with every release. His records capture his charisma-they're driving and sincere, the dark moments counterbalanced by some giggling banter with the engineer. On Never Better, the new disc, he conjures get-away cars, racing chariots, the pursuit of sirens, and the occasional rueful nighttime drive.
P.O.S was born in Minneapolis as Stefon Alexander, where everybody still calls him Stef. As a little kid, he developed a fascination with an older cousin's bass guitar. Stef was allowed to take it home and he banged on it happily for years before realizing that it was intended to be played through an amp. "I just thought it was supposed to be a quiet instrument." As a teenager, he fell hard for punk rock. Minor Threat, At the Drive-In, Refused, Kid Dynamite. He played in a series of hardcore bands, sometimes as a drummer, sometimes on guitar and vocals. From the start, he preferred basement shows to club gigs. Simultaneously, he pursued hip hop, rapping in the hallways and after school with classmates who would eventually found Doomtree Records. P.O.S released his first rap record, Ipecac Neat, on Doomtree in 2003. After signing with Rhymesayers shortly after, it was quickly released and widely distributed on Rhymesayers Entertainment. The album earned P.O.S a dedicated following of critics and underground fans. Two years later they devoured his melodic sophomore release Audition, which featured collaborations with heavyweights like Slug from Atmosphere; Craig Finn of The Hold Steady; and Greg Attonito of The Bouncing Souls. On the verge of his third release, with his trajectory unchecked, P.O.S still doesn't take himself too seriously. He doesn't sweat the musical trends. He locks himself in his bedroom studio until the early hours of the morning, emerges with a song, and couldn't care less how someone else would have gone about it.
Like many great rappers, P.O.S creates his own self-contained little microcosm-his characters become familial to us; we get in on his slang and inside jokes. His mother and his son Jacob emerge as familiar personalities. We know his politics too: P.O.S doesn't hesitate to call out the compounding absurdities of pop culture, either with a little friendly ribbing or with a Molotov cocktail. On Never Better he drops deft one-liners that cut to the quick of America's stuff-obsessed culture, Can't take it with them can they?
Amidst the swagger, the laughter and the wit, P.O.S also provides a portal to his personal life-a young man ferociously determined to succeed as a father, a musician, and a human being. He's earnest, sometimes frustrated, irresistibly likable, and he's goofy. With that kind of wingspan, he can rally almost any crowd-live he's like the Pied Piper of the underground. He can make a rap show feel like a revival, a mosh pit, or a reunion. He will stand on chair. He'll invent a dance. Then the beat drops, the hands go up, and you're converted.
P.O.S himself made more than half of the beats on Never Better, and the production bears his unmistakable signature. The album enters a room like bombshell with a black eye-badass, noisy, impossible to ignore. Feedback and relentless drum rolls are only occasionally tempered by sung choruses and clean, chiming guitar lines. Some critics will be eager to categorize the album as a hybrid-some kind of crossover project. But it's probably not. P.O.S is a rapper with range, he's a real musician and an unstoppable performer. For him, genres are as they ever were: permeable.