Originally published February 12, 2009 – Red Pulse Magazine

Like a guerrilla warrior stalking his prey through the jungle, Stefon Alexander (a.k.a. P.O.S.) spits his lyrical fire from all angles. His flows come out quick and hard, highlighting the aggressive musical style that makes P.O.S. a unique force in rap music. He plays at Kilby Court on Friday, and if he’s not careful, he’s likely to blow the roof off.

P.O.S. was born and raised in Minneapolis, growing up to be a fan of punk and hardcore. He played in several hardcore bands, alternating between drums, guitar and vocals, before striking out on his own as a rapper. His experience as a punk rocker and musician characterizes his aggressive DIY ethics. P.O.S. plays a lot of the instruments on the album, subconsciously injecting a punk atmosphere to his beats.

“I’ve never set out saying I’m going to put something like that down,” Alexander said. “The beats that appeal to me just happen to be aggressive.”

P.O.S., which has variable meanings, including “Promise of Stress” or “Piece of Shit,” exemplifies his working-class roots and his humble nature. Even though his mic skills are well above average, his lyrics are never self-serving or boastful. That element of his work certainly has to do with being weaned on Minor Threat and At the Drive In rather than the flashy gangster rap of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg that got him into rap in the first place. Even though he hung with some members of his family in the projects, he was always a rocker at heart.

“The kids I hung out with had mohawks,” he said, joking about his past.

P.O.S.’s star is rising in a “punk” landscape where bands such as Gym Class Heroes and 3OH!3 are being embraced by crowds that wouldn’t know how to groove to the drum line if their life depended on it. He has been playing sections of the Warped Tour in recent years and eventually gained a full-time spot on the so-called punk rock summer camp. Even though he is developing a fan base from the scene kids, he is quick to point out that his fans are made up of people that listen to any genre.

“There isn’t one style of kids that are into me. Everyone is welcome and you’re going to have fun,” said the pierced and tattooed rapper.

Serious identity issues

Serious identity issues

Tours with groups such as Atmosphere have also helped expand his diverse fan base, and give an indication he is someone to look out for in 2009. Despite his growing popularity, P.O.S. is quick to dismiss any notion that he’s out to make it big. When asked about a song lyric that includes the line “The dude abides,” a reference to the cult classic “The Big Lebowski,” he said he identifies with the Dude’s ethics.

“It’s about finding my life and finding what is happiness,” he said. “I don’t look at stars as what I’m trying to achieve.”

This motivation is apparent in a lot of his songs. In one song, he raps, “They let dead presidents represent them, do you really think a president can represent you?” Although he voted for and supports President Barack Obama, he said the line isn’t anything political. Rather, the line is in response to an old Nas lyric that celebrates the possession of money.

“I’m not talking about money,” he said of his lyrical motifs. “You can’t have money be the thing that represents things. If I want to be seen as a positive anything, I have to do that for myself.”

P.O.S. will be bringing his DIY ethics and signature style to an intimate setting at Kilby Court on Friday, a show he said he is excited about. It was surprising that when asked about Salt Lake City, his voice lit up as he explained what a great city he thinks it is. He even said he name-dropped our humble little town in an MTV2 interview when asked about cities you wouldn’t expect to be cool.

Whether you take it as a compliment or not, P.O.S. should be bringing all his energy to a show that’s going to make you dance and bang your head—probably at the same time.

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