P.O.S. posits on society’s poison and potential cure

Minneapolis rapper and Doomtree/Rhymesayers player P.O.S. had to cancel a tour this fall due to some pretty serious health issues. But he’s got plenty to say, about his latest record We Don’t Even Live Here, his crew, his collaborators and his call for a non-pacifist branch of the loose revolutionary movement that spawned Occupy and Anonymous.

P.O.S., photo by Kelly Loverud

Minneapolis mic strangler P.O.S. and his Doomtree crew have a tight relationship with Montreal. Though a local solo date had yet to be locked in, the rapper had to call off a North American tour in support of his fourth LP, the brilliant, belligerent We Don’t Even Live Here.

P.O.S. in fact needs a kidney. Despite that, he was full of piss and vinegar when I touched base with him last month.

Darcy MacDonald: I don’t wanna dwell on the health issue too much, but how are you feeling and how has the effort to find some relief been going?

P.O.S.: Honestly, it’s going really well. I’m feeling okay. I’m doing dialysis which is making me feel better. I was planning on doing dialysis overnight on tour, but the overnight-style of dialysis is not really working for me. So I can’t go on tour. But my health overall – I feel good. I feel like I’ve got the support of my fans like, in full, you know? But I dunno, it’s bittersweet because I wanna be on the road.

DM: Were you looking forward to headlining again on your own tour as opposed to playing with Doomtree, as you have in the past couple of years?

P.O.S.: Absolutely. Everybody in Doomtree, we love each other, we love playing together, but everybody wants to support…not “their” music per se, but new music. Like, you know, this is a new record! It’s a brand new record! I wanna be out there rocking it to the fullest, new, you know?

DM: No doubt man. It seems to me the last two records, I think you even toured them before they were out. So you been right on top of that for sure. There is always talk of P.O.S./Rhymesayers or P.O.S./Doomtree. But where are you at as an individual, creatively and otherwise right now, and how do you feel that comes across on We Don’t Even Live Here?

P.O.S.: I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, probably. I know what I wanna say, I know what I wanna sound like, you know what I’m sayin’? I know what I wanna do as a person and as an artist. Making [Doomtree sophomore LP] No Kings was huge for me. Halfway through making We Don’t Even Live Here, I stopped, we made No Kings, and then I went back to work [on WDELH]. And that was the juice I needed. I love working with Doomtree, I love working with my people. So shit man, as a solo artist, I feel like given the proper time to sit and work, I’m making the music that I really feel like is my best.

DM: I’ve always really loved all your records, end to end as complete projects, but the new one is tighter in a sense, if you get me; 11 songs, bang bang.

P.O.S.: Definitely.

DM: I’ve only heard the download, I haven’t seen the sleeve art, so I haven’t seen the production credits. Can you kinda walk me through the producers? Where is Lazerbeak, Paper Tiger, and is there anyone else new you’re fucking with on there?

P.O.S.: It’s a departure for me actually. I usually make about half a record myself, and then Lazerbeak will take the other half with MK Larada or Paper Tiger or some combo of them. On this record, Lazerbeak did about half of it, and then I only made one-and-a-half beats in full. The rest was me sourcing out, looking for people. I spent a lotta time listening to electro and getting into like, really mean, super-aggressive techno music, German dance stuff, and trying to do that with [his noise band] Marijuana Deathsquads, just trying to incorporate the stuff of it into this record. I was trying consciously not to have as many guitars and focus on, as far as the punk and rock vibe, keeping that in the drums, and really just try to come heavy, man!

DM: Well, it worked. I could tell within three tracks it was a new ballgame. I hate the term dance-punk but you really brought that vibe in and it’s cool because it’s hard, like it’s not suddenly all upbeat. Now I get it — you’ve been listening to deep, dark, gritty German techno!

P.O.S.: (laughs) Not just that either, just like, different podcasts and audiobooks and kinda taking my head outta just music, trying to keep…trying to write with my style in mind, instead of influences. And really just to be well-rounded and tighter, like you said.

DM: So in terms of that, you’re looking outside music, what informed your process? Also, what does the title signify? What do you mean by “we don’t even live here”?

P.O.S.: The record, conceptually and lyrically, is largely about the state…(laughs)…the state of the union, without being preachy and without talking about politics specifically, and just talking about the operating system that our world is kinda running on – based off a lotta hatred, based off a lotta debt, based off a lotta money. And money kinda influencing everything, money kinda taking everything that could be smart and making it dumb; money just kinda poisoning everything. I really wanted to take a look at that, but not in a way that was depressing. I really wanted to have a lively, happy record. I’ve never had one of those before, so this is my attempt at doing something like that. It’s not a happy record but it’s definitely easier to just hop into and listen to, I think.

DM: What do you make of Anonymous and the Occupy movement.

P.O.S.: I feel like Occupy is a great starting point to get the conversation about money going nationally. It lasted a lot longer than I thought it would and as far as the conversation, it’s still very real. One thing that I will say is, for every Martin Luther King, there needs to be Black Panthers. There needs to be something that is not pledged to non-violence just standing there, you know? A lot of people looked at Occupy as a joke and a non-threat.

DM: Too pacifist.

P.O.S.: Yeah, and I’m not mad at that element needing to be there. But I feel like there’s more anger than that, and there’s more faces and more colous that coulda been there, you know? It’s just a different thing. Anonymous, I fully support, I’m a really big fan of everything so far they’ve claimed. I’m really into the idea of people taking their own knowledge. Seeing Anonymous News on Twitter, getting crazy love the way it does, and people kinda ignoring CNN and realizing that the media is bought and paid for. You know, I’m really interested in seeing what the next evolution looks like. Even if it’s one by one, it affects you in a way where it’s like, “Man, the news I’m watching isn’t real. I’m switching.” That’s huge. Those little things really do add up. And for me, We Don’t Even Live Here means that place where everybody is, where everybody spends all of their time trying to get as much money as possible, being sad and not doing anything about their sadness. That’s where we live. That’s what I’m trying to say. ■

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