Growing up in Minneapolis, Stefon Alexander latched onto bands like At The Drive-In, Refused, Kid Dynamite, and the hardcore scene. Combine this with his affinity for basement shows and after-class rhymes, and it’s no surprise to see how Pissed Off Stef, or P.O.S. for short, came to be. One of the founding members of Doomtree, P.O.S. has released two very loud and vocal albums on Rhymesayers, and his third album, Never Better, is no exception. Chunky bass lines, intense drumming, and bombastic beats pace the fifteen-track voyage into the mind of P.O.S. His rage, wit, and social criticisms flow freely throughout, and P.O.S. has, dare I say, never sounded better.
This isn’t an instantly accessible hip-hop album. It won’t be appearing on the radio any time soon. It’s raw and passionate, bleeding with emotion. P.O.S. doesn’t pull any punches. This is real talk throughout, and P.O.S. isn’t going to bullshit you. Call it skateboard rap, call it punk-inspired, call it whatever you like. The bottom line is this music will move you. Never Better starts with “Let It Rattle,” as minimal music backs P.O.S. freestyle rant. It’s a dark, ominous track that only rises in temperature. “Drumroll (We’re All Thirsty)” comes across as the anthem of the album as it channels the rage of Nine Inch Nails as P.O.S. whales on the beat. There is no mercy. “Savion Glover” incorporates some scratches and a bumping bass line along with some clever wordplay. “Purexed” is going to make a run as one of the best songs of the young year, as it slowly builds into a beautiful self-reflection track. You will feel shivers going down your spine when the chorus kicks in.
First single “Goodbye” has a laid back yet serious tone to it, while “Low Light Low Life” is a booming track with a rather catchy chorus. “The Basics (Alright)” is a hyperactive track featuring industrial and electronic drumming as the beat needles and loops throughout. Never Better slows down a little with “Optimist (We Are Not For Them),” as the focused flow of P.O.S. carries it. The title track is a poignant track, as the ferocity of P.O.S. words only grow stronger. And closer “The Brave and The Snake” leaves a lasting imprint on Never Better. With an intro similar to a funeral procession, it lulls you in until P.O.S. verbal artillery hits you in the chest. Transitioning from calm to sporadic, the duality of the track sums up the album quite well.
In a day and age where a lot of hip-hop is about who you know and what you have, P.O.S. takes the opposite approach, pointing out the absurdities of pop culture today. His lyrics have a message, but he gets it across without shoving it down your throat; the man just tells it how it is. It isn’t premature at all to call Never Better one of the best hip-hop albums of 2009; the diversity and complexity of the album will keep it spinning in stereos throughout the course of the year.