P.O.S. has never been afraid of anything. The Minnesota-born rapper came up as a punk artist before bringing his aggressiveness and constant professing into hip-hop. Since then, everything P.O.S. has touched has had a strong tinge of fierceness and cynicism towards the mainstream, whether it be the short-lived Cenospecies, the hip-hop collective he helped found, Doomtree ("Doomtree bangarang, all you rappers sound the same"), or the several P.O.S. solo efforts. But his boundaries have never been pushed as far and his pace never accelerated as hard as they are on his most recent album, We Don't Even Live Here.
We Don't Even Live Here starts and ends with unbelievable energy -- the live band accompaniment of the album-opening "Bumper" is arresting and up-front, and the closer "Piano Hits" has epic breakdowns and noticeable punk leanings -- and everything in between is just as uptempo; so uptempo that it's almost heart attack-inducing. What's special about the album is not that there's never a letdown, it's that P.O.S.'s energy never gets tiring or annoying -- a credit to the album's production quality and strong musical foundation.
Many of the album's early tracks feature live band music that will remind listeners of Rhymefest or fellow Minneapolis native, Atmosphere. The beats are hard, the hooks surprisingly melodic, and the songs in general are just well-constructed. You'll recognize Justin Vernon's auto-tune stylings on "Where We Land," a song that is an early standout. But switching things up and keeping his audience on edge, the second half of the album morphs into an electro-dance-punk revelry -- think Nine Inch Nails meets Flying Lotus. It's at this successful switch that you know you're not just listening to an everyday rap album.
So it sort of makes sense that many of these songs would attack the formulaic follies of mainstream hip-hop. Almost right in the middle of the album, P.O.S. delivers his mission statement with "Lockpicks, Knives, Bricks, and Beats." A minimal beat/freestyle that sounds like hip-hop's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, the song reiterates that P.O.S. does not "respect the game" and that he and his posse don't give a fuck and won't be stopped. And with a statement album so strong, who's to argue? When the last piano hit of "Piano Hits" fade out all you can do is exhale, recline, and say, "Wow. That was an experience."