Music Review: P.O.S. – Never Better

If you have been following my blog at all the first few months of it’s existence, you have seen my most anticipated music of 2009.  One of those albums has dropped making my wait for some good music not to bad, only the 2nd month of the year.  The disc is from P.O.S., a Minneapolis based rapper.  For those that don’t know him, he started out with punk-rock at a younger age.  He started doing hip-hop here and there, playing small shows, and he ended up having quite a bit of fun with it.  Not only did he have fun with it, he was pretty good.  Never Better is the 3rd L.P. in P.O.S.’ career.  His first two albums were stellar front to back with some of my favorite hip-hop songs ever.  P.O.S. is on of the few rappers out there who still sound unique to me.  At times his vocals do sound a little like Eminem, but he mixes it up well, singing, screaming and rapping… sometimes all on one track.  His production is also unique.  There are a lot of live instruments sprinkled throughout his albums.  He samples rather heavy guitar from groups like Underoath.  Mix his vocal variety with a punk approach to production and you have something different from the mainstream.

Thankfully I didn’t post this review when I first planned to. After my first two listens I wasn’t digging it. My first listen was while playing a video game and the second listen while at work. Then came the third go round. I put on my headphones, turned on my Zune and laid back with nothing but the music to pay attention to. It was this listening session that made everything click for me. While listening in the background, I missed so many of the intricacies of the production.  There are layers upon layers of strings, beats, live drums, vocal sampling.  If you don’t pay attention your going to miss what makes this album so good.

Video for Drumroll (We’re all Thirsty)

The disc starts of in grand fashion with Let it Rattle, possibly my favorite P.O.S. song ever.  It’s a slow build to a sung chorus that just has a lot of emotion to it.  The lyrics are his normal sarcastic style, but I am always dying to hear what he is going to say next.  After that we get Drumroll, which I have posted the video to above.  It has a nice, hard live drum beat as it’s main sample and P.O.S. shows he has the vocal speed to hang with just about anyone.  On Grave Robbers (We Wrote The Book) we hear strings that are probably only noticeable on headphones, but add great effect. 

While P.O.S. typically has a sarcastic view of the world (he even admits as much in the lyrics on one of the tracks) he always has done some very serious stuff.  On Little Kids, off his first disc, he tells the tale of outcast kids around the world.  On Audition he has the track Paul Kersey to Jack Kimbell, a tale of someone who was killed by a drunk driver.  On his latest disc, he does the same serious story telling he has become good at on the track Been Afraid.  This one is a story about an abused girl and how her childhood abuse affects her throughout her life.  In the hands of someone else, this type of track might fall flat on it’s face.  When P.O.S. does it, it sounds sincere and we end up caring about what he is saying.  Nearing the end of the album is the title track, Never Better.  Great production and lyrics that literally could apply to anyone.  That’s another part of what makes P.O.S. appealing.  He is someone real people can identify with.  He’s not rapping about cars and women.  He’s taking about the President and the messed up situations we face day to day.

By the time the disc ends with The Brave and The Sanke, an 11 minute song that rivals Immortal Technique’s Dace With The Devil,  all that can be said is P.O.S. has done it again.  Original production, great lyrics and another good disc from cover to cover.  I am left just slightly disappointed however.  I keep looking for him to top his debut and I still don’t think he has done it.  That doesn’t mean it’s bad by comparison of his other work, it’s still very good.  It just isn’t as good as I had hoped.  Even with that said, I’d be surprised if this doesn’t make it on my top ten for this year.  It’s that good.

Top Three Tracks:

  • Let It Rattle
  • Been Afraid
  • Grave Robbers (We Wrote The Book)

Listen to P.O.S. if you like:

  • Atmosphere
  • Jedi Mind Tricks
  • CunningLynguists

Purchase Album

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