Category: Doomtree

The best local music of 2009

My picks for the Minnesota music scene’s best albums of the year. Here’s #1:

1. P.O.S., Never Better
(Rhymesayers Entertainment)
Stef Alexander opens his third album with a down-to-earth apology for the three-year gap between Never Better and 2006′s Audition—”sorry I took so long,” he says, before launching into “Let It Rattle.” It’s the only thing the Doomtree rapper needs to be humble about when it comes to his music. Drawing energy as much from his punk-rock background as his hip-hop side, P.O.S. is as verbally propulsive and nimble here as Savion Glover, the dancer he namechecks on Never Better‘s third song. The Twin Cities is not exactly hurting for talent when it comes to underground hip-hop, but here’s a solid sign that P.O.S. will be counted in the highest echelons of that group for a long time to come.

Originally published on Dec. 10, 2009. Read the complete article.

Review: P.O.S., Never Better

P.O.S., Never BetterMinneapolis rapper P.O.S. is known best as an MC in the Doomtree crew, but he keeps hardcore punk in his heart with active membership in the Twin Cities punk band Building Better Bombs. Each of his three solo rap albums has moved toward a progressively greater synthesis of his musical personalities, and Never Better has moments that are straight-up discordant, angry punk, particularly the screamed choruses on “Drumroll (We’re All Thirsty)” and “Optimist (We Are Not For Them).” He deals with that seeming dichotomy on the autobiographical “Out Of Category,” explaining that when he heard first heard punk rock, “the way they didn’t need to fit in, he found his kin.” It’s not so much that he’s out to deliberately create a cross-genre album, but more a reflection of his vision that punk and rap share plenty of common ground. Either way, it’s a great synthesis, merging verbally dexterous, rapid-fire syllable-spitting and a nimble sense of rhythm with lyrics that are clever, self-reflective, and full of sharp-edged political statements.

Originally published on Feb. 3, 2009. Read the complete article.

Random Rules: P.O.S.

Photo: Jeff Luger

The shuffler: Stef Alexander, a.k.a. P.O.S of the Minneapolis hip-hop collective Doomtree. Currently on tour opening for Gym Class Heroes, P.O.S has a busy 2007 planned, with an all-crew Doomtree album and his own third solo disc in the works.

Cage, “Too Heavy For Cherubs”

: I like this a lot. Cage was one of those MCs who, three years ago, you’d hear his records or a new song he had on whatever compilation, and he always had a really dope verse, but it was never stuff I could relate to, or really agree with, necessarily. Until this new record [Hell's Winter], where it seemed like he had some huge stuff happen in his life that made him want to talk about some relatable shit. Whatever it was that did it, it was a good move, ’cause this new record’s the best one he’s ever made, as far as I’m concerned.

The Pharcyde, “Soul Flower (Remix)”

POS: It’s a pretty good song. It’s not my favorite, by any means. I think a weed song’s got to be a really good weed song, if you’re going to have a weed song.

The A.V. Club: What makes a good weed song?

POS: Songs about getting high aren’t typically the best songs. Sometimes they can be fun, but they’re never going to make or break a record for me, [unless] there’s too many of them. A good weed song isn’t necessarily so much about smoking weed, as it is about your day, or about what makes you want to smoke weed, you know? I don’t necessarily cater so often to sad songs, but I like the idea of… I mean, it might seem stupid to say, but… My mom can deal with swearing, and I’ve always been really honest with her, so I like having songs where I can play it for my mom and she can understand what the point is. And if I’ve got a song that’s like “We smoke weed every day, ’cause we crazy high! We love smoking weed and love gettin’ high!”—she’s not really going to be into it, you know? [Laughs.]. But if the song is put together like, “I’ve been working my ass off all day long. What am I looking forward to tonight? Nothing! My girl broke up with me, what am I going to do? I’m going to smoke this joint and relax…” That kind of weed song makes more sense to me. I do love The Pharcyde, though.

Originally published March 20, 2007 on Read the complete article.

Best Music Of 2006: Loon State Edition

As the A.V. Club’s Twin Cities editor, I was happy to weigh in on our collective national Best Music Of 2006 list (here’s a link to my personal top 10), but I also thought it would be important to do the same for my own local music scene. I put the following list together for the A.V. Club’s Minneapolis print edition, and in the name of civic pride and all that, I’ll share it with you guys here too. Though making these annual best-of lists is one of the highlights of a critics’ year, the idea of ranking one musician against another sometimes seems a little ludicrous. Is a rap group really comparable to a folk duo, or an alt-country band? You know what they say about apples and oranges. Still, they’re both fruit, and if you can’t pick out rotten produce, you’re gonna wind up in the hospital. Of course, you can’t really compare CDs and fruit either, except to say that if you try to eat a CD you will definitely end up in the hospital even if it’s a good band. (This despite the fact that economists call people who buy CDs “consumers.”) At any rate, here are my picks for the best Minnesota-made music of 2006.

Originally published Dec. 14, 2006 on Read the complete article.

Interview: P.O.S. of Doomtree

Photo: Jeff Luger

The multitalented Doomtree hip-hop collective has become an almost inescapable presence in its hometown music scene of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but its first real national exposure came via the fiery second album by founding MC Stefon Alexander, a.k.a. P.O.S. Co-produced by the Doomtree collective along with Slug and Siddiq of Rhymesayers, Audition bristles with energy and wit, taking inspiration from hardcore punk-rock as much as rap. P.O.S. winds up a two-month tour this week with a homecoming stand at Minneapolis’ First Avenue March 26 with Doomtree compatriots Turbo Nemesis, Mac Lethal, and Sims.

The A.V. Club: Your pathway to becoming a rapper is kind of out of the ordinary, since you grew up as a part of the punk scene in suburban Hopkins, Minnesota.

P.O.S.: Well, I never lived in Hopkins, but I went to Hopkins High School. For a long time, during early junior high, it seemed like I was the only punk. And later there was a bunch of other punks, but I was definitely the only black punk. We had bands and our bands were great. And then members of the band went to college, so we started rapping.

AVC: The walls that used to divide different genres of music, especially rock and hip-hop, seem to be evaporating.

POS: Minneapolis makes it really easy. It’s just a great, all-inclusive music scene. I can’t think of any other place in the country where Atmosphere and Dillinger Four can play a show together and nobody will blink an eye. Everybody will be like “Oh yeah, that makes sense.” And then the same show happens in Chicago and there’s fights every 15 minutes. Nobody gets it. But in Minneapolis, that kind of shit’s just really standard. It didn’t take any deep breathing to figure out what I was going to do—it just was what was going to happen, you know?

Originally published March 21, 2006 on Read the complete article.

Review: P.O.S., Audition

P.O.S., AuditionDepending on his mood and the need of the moment, the initials in Stefon Alexander’s stage name can stand for Pissed Off Stef, Promise Of Skill, Promise Of Stress, or Piece Of Shit. The first two phrases are ones at work on Audition. (It’s his second album, but it’s bound to reach a wider audience than his self-released debut.) The leading light of the Twin Cities’ Doomtree rap collective (the up-and-coming younger cousin of Atmosphere’s Rhymesayers), P.O.S. first put down musical roots in punk, and his sensibility fuses punk’s painful sincerity and social consciousness with indie-rap’s self-awareness and musicality. The result falls between Slug’s disarmingly inward-looking honesty and Rage Against The Machine’s furious calls to action, and largely takes the best from both worlds.

Originally published on Feb 1, 2006. Read the complete article.

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