Hip Hop has got off to a noticeable start in 2009.
On one side you have the young pretenders, your Asher Roth’s, Wale’s and Charles Hamilton’s. On the opposite side is the return of an old heavyweight, one Marshall Mathers. The irony is that one more deserving of attention has slipped under the masses radar. Actually did I just write that? Of course P.O.S has passed by largely unnoticed; he has no tales of singing for Jay-Z or major label backing. He just has the satisfaction of being on the books of a label which has steadily built an absolutely exceptional stable of artists.
Indeed if you wanted to get a textbook example of artists which could define the term ‘backpack’ then Rhymesayers Entertainment has the answer. Atmosphere, MF Doom, Brother Ali, Soul Position, do I need to go on? And while the term is an undesirable one, it’s easy to place P.O.S in there. He name checks Isis, Fuzagi and has None More Black contributing to a song and unsurprisingly has a background in punk music. However pigeon holing this man is a dangerous game, as ‘Never Better’ shows consistently throughout.
It’s easy to pick out the tracks which have mass appeal; both ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Low Light Low Life’ resound out the speakers like an angry animal and have enough of a pop appeal to get airplay. They are hits pure and simple, with big beats and bigger hooks and deserve to be played loud.
As odd a thing to say, these aren’t his strengths. With a backing track heavy on percussion his lyrics are driven and delivered with urgency. With the basic element of a lot of the music his lyrical message takes centre stage and with it the pure beauty of P.O.S. At first it can seem a little confused with a lot of random imagery. For example in opening track ‘Let It Rattle’ we get references to Viagra, the credit crisis, Bush, Mitch Hedburg, shoutouts to his label, brand capitalism, the Big Lebowski and Randy Savage used as an adjective. It’s a breathless but ultimately telling introduction to P.O.S. In amongst the clutter and confusion you get snippets and lines of his message.
In the occasional moments of clarity you get to the raw heart of P.O.S. This is a man uninterested in the perhaps over commented world of guns, cars, bling and bitches that supposedly define hip hop. Each of his tracks is a social commentary, reinforced with a powerful soundtrack. All you have to do is listen. You might not understand at first but your reward is one of the more visceral and evocative hip hop albums in recent years. P.O.S never better? Damn right.