P.O.S.: Never Better — The Best Hip-Hop Album of 2009

P.O.S.: Never Better (Rhymesayers)
P.O.S.: Never Better (Rhymesayers)

P.O.S. has saved hip hop.

I haven’t been this excited and energized about a hip-hop album since Shadows On The Sun by Brother Ali came out in 2003. Minneapolis rapper Stefon Alexander, a.k.a. P.O.S. or that guy from the punk band Building Better Bombs, happens to share a label (Rhymesayers) and hometown with Brother Ali.

For reasons beyond my understanding, the location and label have created the most powerful farm team in indie rap music. Perhaps it’s the working-class background, the lack of a major music industry, or the rare collection of talent and work ethic found behind the doors at the label.

Whatever it is, it is working. Never Better is amazing and likely to be the best hip-hop album of 2009.

This a hip-hop record. Although it obviously draws on P.O.S.’s background in punk and rock music (P.O.S. plays most of the live instrumentation on the record), this is a record that categorically defines the indie in indie rap.

This record sounds right in your car — and tracks “Goodbye” and “Low Light Low Life” fit that party iPod playlist without hesitation. But there is a lot to this record — a far cry from two singles padded by twenty garbage tracks that have become the norm in hip hop. There’s a feeling of hands-on craft and consideration to this album.

Never Better sticks to the rules. P.O.S. mixes carefully rhymed phrases that, without entering the esoteric, faux-gang zingers that earn East Coast rap with such sudden fame and short shelf life, illustrate his entire world. Freezing weather, bold racism, wheezy lungs and zero-balance checking accounts create an unlikely backdrop to this strangely positive album.

Doomtree artist Dessa Darling, a.ka. Maggie Wander, kills a guest verse on “Low Light Low Life.” Jason Shevchuk (Kid Dynamite / None More Black), one of my favorite punk vocalists of all time, appears on “Terrorish.”

Never Better was released February 3, 2009 on Rhymesayers Entertainment.

Chris Force

Chris Force is the founder and editor of ALARM Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter if you’re into that kind of thing.

“Goodbye” from Never Better by P.O.S.

Available for download here.

14 thoughts on “P.O.S.: Never Better — The Best Hip-Hop Album of 2009”

  1. Rhymesayers is totally uninspired. I’d take the Anticon roster over those dudes anytime. And seriously, this dude saved rap? There’re better mixtapes out there than this dude’s rekkids.

  2. “djc” is totally out of his mind. Anticon over Rhymesayers? Are you kidding me? Name one mixtape out this year that’s better than anything P.O.S. has ever touched. do you even listen to hip-hop?

  3. I like that one Anticon record where the rapper makes me sleepy with boring raps, and the other one where my ears hurt from lousy beats. That might be the same song (or their whole catalog). Mike Nice in the house!

  4. I’d take Def Jux over either of them. Though the first P.O.S. album was dope. What up Mike Nice!

  5. What it is Mike Nice?! I don’t know you, but I thought I’d shout out too. Def Jux is dope, I dig Murs, Aesop, El-P, Mr. Lif and Can Ox. But Anticon is nothing compared to Rhymesayers OR Def Jux. Or for that matter, Chi-town’s own Mother Brain Records. PRE.LiMBS 4 LIFE

  6. Check out “The Mix Tape Philosophies of Mushroom Black”

    I have not heard but I will soon with all this hype! I am always on the look out for “REAL” HipHop

  7. I listen to Doomtree, Rhymesayers, Anticon, Def Jux, all the big ones and I gotta say P.O.S. absolutely kills it. While I am not sure if this is as good as ‘Audition’ it still left me speechless. You have a listen to Never Better a few times through to really get the full effect… and damn. On a side note: P.O.S. is THE best live performer I have ever seen. In the 30 odd underground rappers I have seen live, the two times I have seen P.O.S. have blown me away, if you get the chance, see a show. His energy carries throughout and you can tell me just loves every minute of it. Think punk rock energy paired with a rap show.

  8. I agree “Audition” was awesome. “p.o.s. is running my life is a hot track”. I’ll have to check out “The Mix Tape….”

  9. I used to feel that P.O.S. was more of a side-note on Rhymesayers… but with this album he has really solidified himself as a powerful solo artist and a defining member of the label.

    Someone I know said that Never Better was, “better than anything Atmosphere has even thought about doing…” I’m not sure if I can go that far but, I agree that every track on this record is pure quality – something I don’t think atmosphere has ever accomplished.

  10. Ill keep it short, if you dont like POS this album will not suit you…if you like POS you’ll have a huge orgasim….its amazing.

  11. Minnesota hip hop is where it’s at! You should also check out my boys, Nerve and DJ Arkitekt a new group out of Minneapolis that performs a hip-hop indie rock fusion with an album set drop this summer. Having opened for national acts like Muja Messiah and Eyedea, Nerve and DJ Arkitekt are ready to win over new listeners every day.

    Check out their music at http://www.myspace.com/nerveanddjarkitekt

    E-Funk Productions

  12. Erik, Minnesota has cute lil’ rhymers, but Queens produced the best hiphop, sorry ya’ll but that’s fact.

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