P.O.S, born Stefon Alexander, wears his punk influence on his sleeve, opening his newest album Chill, dummy with a weighty electric guitar bassline and growling vocals, as he lays claim to his bold and peerless position in rap. Through the industry’s cultural explosion, rap has increasingly dipped its toes into other styles, as demonstrated by Danny Brown’s manic flows on Joy-Division-inspired Atrocity Exhibition and OG Maco’s Kid Cudi ode with clear Metallica influences, For Scott. At the fore of this crossover, P.O.S stands out by having actually played guitar for his punk band, Building Better Bombs. In Chill, dummy P.O.S delves into his punk-rap crossover sound comfortably, while exploring more expansive and simple tracks.
P.O.S’ flow is unique, rife with alliteration and wordplay that touch on drug use and daily life in the chilly streets of Minneapolis. Lines like “smack dab in the middle of the smack and dab renaissance,” in “Wearing a Bear,” over a relentless and grungy beat exemplify his sound. Throughout Chill, dummy, electronic looping and live instrumentation take up equal space, allowing Alexander to comfortably jump between tempos, tones, and emotions in separate tracks. “Lanes” and “Pieces / Ruins” sound as if they could have come from completely different bands, illustrating Alexander’s diverse skillset. Busdriver’s verse on “Pieces / Ruins” follows an uncommonly gratifying drop and remains compelling throughout its relentless sixty-one seconds. P.O.S’ own verse on the track demonstrates the artistry that the finest indie rappers achieve: when written out, his verses expand and contract, lines growing in length and then shrinking back.The song is literally a concrete poem spit over a syncopated beat. “Pieces / Ruins” earns its spot firmly at the intersection of poetry and music.
Notably absent are features from Cecil Otter, Dessa, Mike Mictlan, and Sims–members of P.O.S’ Doomtree rap collective. Alexander does, however, tap a number of artists to feature on Chill, dummy, a number of them also Minneapolis-based. “sleepdrone/superposition” features eight other musicians, including Allan Kingdom and Lizzo. The song itself is an epic: more than eight minutes long, it splices samples, fast-paced rhymes, a chanted chorus, and drum solos over a sparse, intermittent beat. It coils and uncoils, building up to a hypnotic, electronic whirl and ending in a sudden break for both the song and the album.
Alexander’s experience with punk takes Chill, dummy in unexpected, and sometimes difficult, directions. But like his and my home city, Minneapolis, the album generously rewards with time. They say that once you move to Minneapolis, you never want to leave; once you get into P.O.S, you never want to give it up. When it comes to Minnesota winters and P.O.S, just sit back and Chill, dummy.
Voices’ Choices: “Pieces / Ruins,” “Gravedigger,” “Wearing a Bear”