The Rhymesayers Entertainment camp pretty much got off the ground thanks to Atmosphere, of course with contributions from lesser-known local acts such as Musab and Eyedea & Abilities; the latter both receiving mixed reviews from their respective audiences. However, in the last couple of years, we’ve watched RSE step up their roster by signing more established underground acts, such as Blueprint, who came with last year’s seminal 1988 release, and of course, MF Doom, who needs no introduction at all. But with the start of 2006, Rhymesayers take it back home, returning to the twin cities of Minneapolis, Minnesota, with the official debut from P.O.S., Audition.
With an album cover that evokes painful memories of the Asian horror flick of the same name, P.O.S’s Audition can be a bit morbid at times, such as on “The Kill In Me”, where he requests “You can’t cut surgically with a shaky hand / and honestly my nerves are shot again / so let me treat you like a doll and snap your neck in my hands.” But that’s just the rockstar in him. As a member of the band Doomtree, P.O.S. does intertwine live guitars and drums into the production from time to time, but it never feels like “rock-rap” or a bad mash-up, just very well put together hip-hop music. “Half Cooked Concepts”, for instance, is an abrasive introduction to the man, which might turn off listeners at first, thanks to it’s heavy guitars and screamed hook. But P.O.S. quickly follows up with “De La Souls”, a more grounded audition that further explores his personality, paying homage to “I Am, I Be”, from the group the song was named after.
But P.O.S. really kicks it into high gear when he’s got something on his mind. The politically charged “Stand Up (Let’s Get Murdered)” attacks the Bush administration with poignant social commentary, as he notes “We’re talking about the most hated machine of all time / they’re playing a game with most of our lives / But in November who had the patience to stand in line?” He takes things down to a local level on “Safety In Speed”, where takes on “Hollywood, DC”, attacking Governor Jesse Ventura, and other actors turned politicians such as Reagan and Schwartzenegger. Meanwhile, his rage really gets burning on “Paul Kersey To Jack Kimball”, where he takes a lyrical, Death Wish style revenge on an assumed drunk driver or hit and run killer of a loved one. This angry, almost Eminem-esque side of P.O.S. rears its head on the album’s last track, “Audition Mantra”, a wonderfully constructed anthem that crescendos both musically and lyrically just as the album ends. The passion put into his delivery and lyrics really drives his points home.
But it’s not all angsta rap, P.O.S. sews it all together with several straight-forward, honest hip-hop songs, making this one very well balanced meal. He collaborates on two tracks with Slug, first “Bush League Psyche-Out Stuff “, where the two trade humorous verses over a mellow, jazzy beat. Again, on “Bleeding Hearts Club” - a track more aimed at the female fan base - which lifts a hook from DeBarge’s classic “I Like It”. “Teddy Bear and A Tazor” finds him over another meaty Lazerbeak track, which midway through finds it chopped and screwed, moving P.O.S. into a ridiculous double time delivery.
Audition, is just that; P.O.S.’s official audition to the already established Rhymesayers audience, and the rest of the world. While his cryptic song titles and edgy production style may turn off fans looking for plain old boom-bap, or rather, thuggity-club tracks, anyone open to well thought-out, solidly produced, and most of all, original, hip-hop music, will dig this. It remains to be seen if this will be received as the second coming of Atmosphere, but just as he laments on “Audition Mantra”, he “ain’t like every other motherfucker with a mic”.
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