Reviews P.O.S. Never Better

P.O.S.

Never Better

The unique style of P.O.S. continues to come together - from the disjointed and experimental Ipecac Neat that caught Rhymesayers’ attention, and the slightly more mainstream Audition in 2006, Never Better continues to build and unify P.O.S.’s distinct and witty brand of hip-hop. To get it out of the way early, P.O.S. is also in the hardcore/mathrock band Building Better Bombs. Yes, he raps and is affiliated with punk. Sometimes this shows in his songs, but most of the time it’s more subtle and shows through his lyrical content, abrasive beats, and occasional screaming than in a direct Transplants sort of way. Thank god.

Much like his previous release, Never Better starts off with an intro track - not your run of the mill skit or namedropping intro, but a minimal track where P.O.S. establishes his style and stance on the world. He quickly mentions the recession, Obama, and reps his crews (Doomtree and Rhymesayers), all while mixing in a variety of possible names for the allusive acronym Stef Alexander used as his pseudonym. Between his introductory, character establishing intros and his tendency to leave the tape rolling as his songs end, he creates a personal and down to earth feeling that is absent in a lot of hip-hop. He often chooses self-deprecation over braggadocio.

Much has been made of his punk background, but aside from songs like “Drumroll (We’re All Thirsty),” which is unusually abrasive for a hip-hop song and has some hyperspeed rapping and backing slow-mo “Oohs,” or the guest appearance from Jason Shevchuk, this is indie hip-hop with snare-heavy, non-dancey beats and lyrics with a heavy dose of pragmatic lefty politics. However, he’s got a sense of humor about his work - not only does he reference civilians in Guantanamo in “Savion Glover,” but he follows it up with a line about Paris Hilton and ends up quoting Fugazi prominently. All the bases are covered, including “turn the A.C. Slater up.” Sometimes, the beats get a little too minimal and P.O.S. relies heavily on his emotion and wit to fill in the musical voids.

The record is roughly equal to its predecessor, but a bit more consistent throughout - there are highlights in “Savion Glover” and “Goodbye,” and the Doomtree crew-inclusive “Low Light Low Life” is always fun but there are also a few slower moments that make the record feel too long. The beats, created by P.O.S., Lazerbeak, MK Larada, and Paper Tiger consistent, unique, and fitting with Alexander’s delivery.

Lastly, the art of this record has to be mentioned. This is perhaps the first CD I have bought that the unique packaging impressed me instead of annoyed. It comes in a clear plastic package, with replaceable slides so you can change the cover image. Not only is it a new idea, but it still fits normally on a CD shelf where most novel ideas seem to forget about storage. As absurd as it sounds, I’d recommend buying the CD over the vinyl on this release because of the packaging. It’s that cool.

8.0 / 10Loren
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8.0 / 10

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