Doomtree member P.O.S. has made a lane with his unique blend of Hip Hop, Punk and Spoken Word. An intricate songwriter, the Minneapolis, Minnesota emcee is releasing his third album with a label known for that trait: Rhymesayers Entertainment.
Prior to the jarring news of P.O.S. canceling his tour due to a kidney affliction last week, the veteran musician spoke to HipHopDX about the album, and the involvement of two standouts, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Kanye West engineer Andrew Dawson.
Photo by Kelly Loverud.
HipHopDX: We Don’t Even Live Here drops October 23rd. Give us some background on the album’s title. Specifically, who is the “we” and where is the “here” that you speak of?
P.O.S: “We” is anyone like me. Those who are tired of struggling to be happy in a system that seems bent on making sure that we are unhappy. A “same street, different planet” kind of approach to thinking. “Here” is meant to be a place that’s interpreted by each individual with regard to where they are struggling in life.
DX: “..we insist on a life that’s average. This world has got a whole lot of locked doors.” How would you explain that in relation to your previous answer?
P.O.S.: On a life “less” average, it’s about seeing that so many of our cultural norms come from old religion. Or old ideas of what life is supposed to be. Those old ideals that have stuck with us are, in a sense, the locked doors to something we can’t get out of and we have decided not to live here anymore. We decided to get out of those norms and old ideas of what happiness is.
DX: Now, Doomtree as a whole, has evolved since your last solo album, Never Better. From an individual standpoint, what has changed in your creative process?
P.O.S.: Honestly, not much. I mean, I still stress out ’cause I’m trying to make the best shit that I can. I always take forever. And that’s also because I feel like the finished product is never good enough.
DX: A lot of artists say that. Do you ever have the urge to go back to a project and re-do it?
P.O.S.: Nah, I just leave it alone and move onto whatever’s next. I’d rather just make new songs.
DX: Throughout the entire recording process, what were some challenges you faced that weren’t present while recording your first three albums?
P.O.S.: I always stress over making the best thing I can. That hasn’t and will never change. The pressure comes when you want to keep “Rap” as your job. And again, that’s why I take so long.
DX: In overcoming your stresses, what would you say is one thing fans can take away from We Don’t Even Live Here after listening to it?
P.O.S.: That if they don’t like what they’re doing with themselves, they should do something else. If you don’t like your job, quit that shit; it’s that simple, ya know? Find something to do that means something to you.
DX: And what do you want them to see, as far why you made this album?
P.OS.: I want them to realize that this is the funnest music I’ve ever made.
DX: Touching upon a couple people you worked with on this album, first discuss working with Andrew Dawson. In addition to his work with Kanye West, what are some elements of his major label work that carry-over into your album?
P.O.S.: Sound quality; [Andrew Dawson’s] work sounds incredibly mastered. The reason why he gets so much major label work is because his mixing style makes things sound big and clean. Andrew knows how to make a Rap record sound massive. And major label or not, his mixes always sound great.
DX: Prior to working with him, do you feel he already knew how or what you wanted your sound to be?
P.O.S.: Yeah, definitely. Before we started working on the album, we had a couple meetings. And he knows all my old records so already knew where I wanted to go with the sound.
DX: You also have Justin Vernon of Bon Iver on a track. Coming from different ends of the music spectrum, what kind of impact do you think Bon Iver has made in Hip Hop?
P.O.S.: I think the reason why [Bon Iver is] so respected outside of their genre, is because [Justin Vernon] is so good at what he does. He gets a lot of love because of his outstanding voice and good taste in music. His impact is made just by being able to bring his own elements to the table.
DX: To complement the sound and production, what type of messages did you want to convey in your music?
P.O.S.: I basically wanted content that was a little bit more deeper than just talking about what I’m wearing or what I think is cool. I don’t want to be one of those rappers who has a song that you listen to and it pretty much summarizes what every other song will be about or sound like. With my content, I try to cover a lot more ground. In doing so, a lot of people think I hate mainstream Rap because of that but that’s not true. I just want it to be better at all times.