Stef Alexander, aka P.O.S, one of the most nationally recognized members of the Doomtree collective, recently released his 3rd full length solo venture, Chill, dummy. On it, he rhymes fast and furious, like he’s constantly trying to beat a metaphorical clock that may make his rhymes disappear if he doesn’t spit them fast enough. The album pairs raw drum beats with futuristic techno elements making it obvious Stef is a member of the highly experimental Marijuana Deathsquads. The album has no shortage of P.O.S’s signature bangers and packs tons of punch in every corner and crevice. His lyrics run from personal to political touching on many of the struggles in the current climate.
The album opens with “Born a Snake”, a grinding banger, chalk full of chaotic techno. Stef’s love of punk here is evident. The chorus carries crowd pleasing “ahh’s” and is sure to be a party track live.”Wearing a Bear” is similar in style, dark dancey party vibe behind more serious lyrics for example “some of y’all thought racism was over because the president was black.”
Things slow down for “Faded”. Raw snare over a seductive bassline and R&B rhythmic elements make for a slow syrupy ride. What sounds like a Bon Iver falsetto decorates the chorus chanting “love me love me love I need more.” The background vocals are cloudy. As the chorus and the front vocals melt together, the words come across more as a chemical induced empty promise than a true resolution to be different, hence “faded.” “Pieces/Ruins” also takes things slower, starts out with beats and lyrics expanding slowly into other territory. Extreme slow motion lyrics come alive in the background, along with various whirs and whees. These brighten up the guest rappers (Dwynell Roland and Busdiver) on the track, as P.O.S repeats “all of the places we love have been left in ruins”.
Another standout is “Lanes”. Here P.O.S is aggressive, his vocal ventures into rock/metal phrasing. He includes a healthy amount of screaming, a technique not seen on many hip hop albums.
In true P.O.S fashion, Chill, dummy rides a balance between light and heavy. His rhymes come at you fast, clever stream of consciousness melding the nonsensical with the serious. P.O.S can start the party, make it sexy and serious at the same time. The free usage of experimental instrumentation keeps the listener guessing. His vocal style can go from a candy smooth flow to an aggressive borderline punk/metal snarl. P.O.S doesn’t follow anyone’s rules but his own, embracing drone with the epic album closer "Sleepdrone/Superposition." On the track he reveals his feelings about his kidney transplant and the current state of his being, where he tries to exist in “superposition.” The song is an almost 9 minute behemoth with a laundry list of collaborators including but not limited to Kathleen Hanna, Astronautalis, Lizzo and Allan Kingdom. It’s an ambitious track, fraught with steam and intensity, a perfect cap to the album. Considering everything he has going on Chill, dummy, I would say he’s in superposition and then some.
Sarah Osterbauer is the SouthernMinn Scene music columnist and critic. She loves to meet the people who make the city’s heart beat (and sometimes break). Follow her on twitter @SarahOwrites.