These days it takes more than just lyrical skill to make a name for yourself in Hip-Hop. There are a million emcees with ill verses for days from every corner of the planet. Without some sort of gimmick, a wild west type life style, or a major label backing you, selling records and getting paid to rap can be difficult, to say the least. There are a few things that the foundation of Hip-Hop is built on; communicating with the audience, telling a story, and individuality. What never gets old in Hip-Hop is the truth, and for heads and casual listeners alike what makes an emcee stand out is his ability to be original and honest while giving you something thing fresh to listen to. When it comes to being honest and original, Rhymesayers Records has a few prime examples on their artist roster. Atmosphere, Brother Ali, and Blueprint to name a few, including emcee slash producer, P.O.S.
With a strong punk rock back-ground, playing many instruments with the band Building Better Bombs amongst others, also starting Doomtree Records, P.O.S is more than just an emcee.
‘Let it Rattle’ is the first song on P.O.S’s third studio album ‘Never Better’ released on his Minneapolis hometown label Rhymesayers Records. The beat is grimy, dark, urgent and driven, similar to the rest of the record, it is very much reflective of the times. The beat is dark and eerie, with a building drum line, and growing guitar, as Stefon Alexander, also known as P.O.S begins;
“There ain’t nobody to look pretty for fuck it/Let it rattle/Let the clatter kill’em/Let the cataclysm wash/Who really listens?/Precision with verse draws a crowd/I draw a line between an easy melody/ And Piece of mind/ I keep the gain tweaked/Freak the same to its own thing/Spit the plain pain/Econlines for the dime class/It’s a goddamn recession/ Show a little respect”.
JD: This is the recession special. I noticed that you have the word ‘optimist’ tattooed across your
knuckles. What are you doing in these gloomy days and times to stay optimistic?
I don’t do anything to stay optimistic. I try to stay pretty well informed on what’s going on, and I definitely do believe that the recession is as bad if not worse than people say it is. I also know how the media likes to grab onto something and run as hard as they can with it, to keep control of the vote to what ever it is you are talking about at the time. Being aware that things aren’t they way that they are presented to me, makes me empowered. And that makes it easier to be optimistic about pretty much everything.
JD: How is the Midwest Hip Hop scene different from the East and West Coast?
There isn’t a major label within a couple hundred miles. So it's very DYI. And it gives you the freedom to be independent, and not have to answer to a major label or corporation.
JD: What is you favorite and least favorite aspect of touring?
I love playing shows, it's my favorite thing to do. I love performing. Its one of the reasons I got into it in the first place. My least favorite part is missing my family, I love to be at home. It also hard to love a girl if you are always on the road.
JD: Are you doing anything different on this tour than on other tours past?
I’m playing guitar, making beats live on stage and doing an hour and half long set. Mostly solo, some members of Doomtree might come up.
JD: The album artwork is very interactive and creative. What went into making that happen and who was involved?
Pretty much just me and the artist Eric Carlson. He listened to the songs and drew pictures based what he thought the song where representing. Came back with his sketchbook and we just brainstormed, a lot of it has to do with stacking. We just wanted to make it this big composite stack-able mess.
JD: How was filming the ‘Drumroll’ video? Was anybody injured in the making?
P.O.S I got pretty licked up and bruised , and a couple bloody cuts, but nothing worse than an average day of skating. It took us from 6 am till past 8 that night, we did six videos in a week, for ‘Never Better,’ ‘Purexed,’ ‘Optimist,’ ‘Drumroll,’ ‘Goodbye,’ and ‘Let is Rattle’. I worked with one producer, different directors, different actors, crew and location everyday. I thought ‘Goodbye’ was cool, but wanted to package that with the digital deluxe version and I’m not sure what we’ll do with the others just yet.
JD: I read on Rhymesayers.com that ‘Never Better’ was written in a moving car. Were you driving at the time? And what kind of car was it?
Ha ha, naw. I wasn’t driving all the time. It was a 2001 Ford Econoline, and not necessarily the whole thing was written in a car. I tour a lot so the album is talking about that, and when I’m at home I have a kid so I cant blast music late at night. So I drive around in my van, blast music, and when ever I get inspired I pull over and write.
JD: ‘Never Better’ is a very diverse album. What went into making it? What were some of your influences'? And who did you work with on the project?
I worked with Lazerbeak from Doomtree, Anterada and Paper Tiger, they got a beat on there a piece. The biggest inspiration was to make a record that would sound astounding as shit for me and my fans, the idea of making pop jams didn’t even cross the head, it was just a matter of, what do I want to do, how do I want it to sound, I kind of wanted to make something that was kind of repellent, and hard to get into.
JD: Is there any new music we can look out for?
Building Better Bombs should have a record out by the end of the year, Doomtree is starting a record, and I'm just going to keep rapping my ass off all year round.
JD: What does P.O.S stand for these days?
Piece of Shit, Product of Stress, and Product of Society.
Friday, 30 October 2009
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
For those unfamiliar with the word "eh", a popular Canadian tag word, it is not always used in the form of a question. Usually eh is used as a statement, such as "The Senators suck, eh", this Canuck wasn't asking you, he was telling you. If He he wanted to ask a question he would say something more direct like "did you think that was good"?
Check out this new video "Quit While Your Ahead", from Classified featuring Maestro, Choclair and Moka Only. Really good track, eh.
Friday, 16 October 2009
Just before Anticon’s last show ever at the Knitting Factory in Tribeca (the venue recently relocated to Williamsburg), Buck 65 told me an interesting story about the first night of a tour he went on right before he signed his first big record deal, circa 2000. The story begins after his performance at The Wow Hall in Eugene, Oregon, and from there it involves thieves, strippers, cocaine, dubious royalty and undeniable heroics. The night was among the inspirations for his latest project, Dirtbike, Volumes 1, 2 and 3. Buck tells it best:
“It was a great show on a lot of fronts, big crowd, very enthusiastic. And to this day, I think it’s where everyone plays. [The Wow Hall] has amazing sound, one of the best of any place I’ve played. I always said if I recorded a live album, I would do it there. After the last song finishes, I step directly off the front of the stage, right by the people, and I’m hanging out, saying hello. It must have been two hours after the show. Finally the place cleared out. I turn around, and the stage had been cleared completely off. My immediate reaction was that everyone was so nice they packed up my equipment. So I find the sound guy and say, ‘Hey, thanks for packing up my gear. Where is it?’ And he says, ‘Oh, I didn’t do it, so and so did it.’ After ten minutes of asking around, I realize it’s been stolen. And this is the first night of the tour. I’m thinking to myself, do I have to cancel the tour? I’m broke. All my contacts are on the East Coast. I was in a helpless situation.”
“Finally I find the promoter, the guy who picked me up at the [bus] station. I tell him I’m angry, tired and pissed off, and I want to go somewhere to relax and where there is a phone. He points to a woman, an unusually tall --more than 6’ tall --woman. She had a warm, disarming smile. I trusted her immediately. We walk out to the parking lot, and she drives the smallest car on the market, the shittiest, cheapest car available. We open the door, and the car is packed with young girls. All clearly on cocaine, going squirrelly nuts. There is nowhere for me to sit. And I really wasn’t in the mood; I was kind of pissed off. We start driving, and I figure, logically, that they are going to take me to my hotel, and I can leave all this craziness behind. So in about ten minutes of driving, I realize the hotel should have been around the corner. The car pulls over in the middle of nowhere and stops. The girls jump out and walk through the woods to a cabin. This cabin was not fit for humans. The glass was broken out, and there were non-domestic animals in there. Then they say, ‘You’re going to sleep over there, the corner of the main room.’”
“I’m trying to get comfortable on the pile of soft things that they had piled up for me, when I feel something poking at my back. I pull it out from the blanket, but I don’t recognize what it is --some sort of plastic with light flashing inside of it. I look up, and the tall woman is standing over me and says, ‘Uh-oh, I guess the cat is out of the bag. Now you know what we all do for a living around here.’ Then I realized it was an over•the-top stripper shoe, 8” heel, the sluttiest shoe ever made. Right then, something snapped in these girls. The tall one says, ‘We said we would show you a good time. What do you say girls --Stripper Olympics?!’ They all take off their clothes and put big stripper shoes on. They are piggy-backing each other, doing insane naked shit wearing these shoes. I really wasn’t in the mood for many reasons, and these girls weren’t giving off very appealing vibes.”
“After going naked-stupid-crazy until 4 in the morning, not more than an hour later, one of the girls wakes up, walks into the main room naked, wraps herself in a blanket, sits down next to me and starts telling me her life story. And she has two major problems: One is she just broke up with her boyfriend, and the other is that she is a sex addict. She is going crazy ‘cause she wants to have sex really badly, but her boyfriend broke up with her because she cheated on him. And this guy is the town thug. A bad guy, in and out of jail, who now has vowed that he is going to kill her. Her phone keeps ringing, and ringing. She picked it up once and I could hear the guy screaming on the other end. So she keeps saying how bad she needs sex, and keeps hinting and hinting. All I’m thinking is, he knows where she is and how to get here, what’s stopping him for coming over and seeing me sitting next to her, half-naked?”
“At this point, the other girls have woken up and are right back at it, trying on clothes, taking them off, going crazy. Finally the girl who was sitting next to me all morning says to the tall woman --and I’ll never forget these words --‘Where is the machine?’ The tall woman says, ‘It’s in the other room.’ Right away the one sitting next to me runs off, and within minutes I hear a small motor running. Now I hear moaning and groaning, loud orgasm sounds. I never did see this machine with my own eyes, but it definitely wasn’t a standard vibrator. This thing was running on gasoline, whatever it was. The other girls are under the blankets, wildly masturbating. I can’t believe where I am and what is going on.”
“All of a sudden there is a loud pounding on the door. The girls look at each other like, ‘Oh, shit.’ Some guy is at the door going crazy, yelling and cursing. He says, ‘I know you have Buck 65 in there with you!’ All of a sudden the door comes crashing down. He walks in, covered in blood and looks at me, breathing heavily, and says, ‘I’ve been looking for you all night.’ He reaches into his inside pocket. At this point my heart is beating out of my chest. I think he’s going for a weapon or something, so I started reflecting on my life. I slowly watch him pull out the mini disc player that I use for my live sets, and he says, ‘The rest of your equipment is out in the car.’ Turns out this guy had been up all night, scouring the town looking for my gear and did God knows what to get it back. But he saved the day and the tour.”
Just another weird day in the life of one of hip-hop’s most prolific emcee-producers … Years later, Buck would hear from the sound engineer at The Wow Hall, who linked him to the MySpace pages of some of the girls he met that night in Eugene. The tall one, Buck reported, called herself “Queen of the Shitbags,” and her photos were “mind-blowing, exactly how I remembered.” Download the song Buck wrote to memorialize the night, “Queen of the Shitbags,” and the rest of the Dirtbike series, at buck65.com.
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