Elevator 17: P.O.S

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Big label rappers get flabby. Their lyrics become inane, if they weren’t already. Their live performances are flashy but many lack basic emcee skills, relying on the audience’s familiarity with their recorded material. Unsurprisingly many lose that dynamic do-or-die work ethic.

Here’s someone to remind us all that there’s another class of rap vocalist. His name is Stefon Alexander, better known as P.O.S. He is one of hardest working rappers in the world right now, and oh yeah, he’s in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Over the last few years he’s performed entire tours while enduring significant physical pain every day.

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Stefon is a part of numerous bands including the magnificent Doomtree. Last year at a Doomtree show here in Birmingham I bought P.O.S’s album ‘Never Better’ and got to meet the man himself. The title track of this 2009 album has got a repeated phrase, which is a genuinely inspiring mantra: ‘Every never is now’.

Despite the fact that many P.O.S tracks exist in dark and difficult territory, he is a self-proclaimed optimist.

‘F**k Your Stuff’ is a playful anti-consumerist anthem and features on his 4th solo album ‘We Don’t Even Live Here’ released in 2012. As well as being a blunt indictment of capitalism and celebrity rap, ‘F**k Your Stuff’ is a great example of the instrumentation that makes Stefon’s music compelling. His fusing of various genres simply works.

‘Bumper’ is the album opener. It’s yet another song, which made me realize that while other rappers look really out of their depth when surrounded by live instruments Stefon looks at home and in control.

Whether he’s reworking De La Soul’s ‘I Am, I Be’ or roaring out lyrics as part of punk band ‘Wharf Rats’ or dodging percussive missile attacks, P.O.S’s determination, sense of humour and steely optimism shine through.

He tells more of his story in this interview.

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