If you’re from the Midwest, it’s not enough to have talent. Your work won’t get seen, your work won’t get heard. Not unless you’re willing to out-work, out-hustle and just make music so good it can’t be denied. Not to say that everything coming out of the Heartland is A+, but once it makes it past the cornfields, chances are you’re not going to be hearing any second rate cousins and weed carriers of better MCs. Never Better is P.O.S.’s third album. He was firmly entrenched as a quality MC with quality production by the time Audition came out in 2006, and has had 3 years to work on a follow up. In addition to working with his Doomtree crew, P.O.S. has kept the quality consistent with his latest entry.
The first thing you’ll notice if you’re new to P.O.S. is the lack of DJ Premier copying or DJ Toomp biting beats. P.O.S. grew up on punk and hip-hop, and influxes his beats with hard hitting drums, live band recordings and fuzzed out riffs. What’s great about this all is that he manages to do it while avoiding comparisons to anything resembling the rap-rock mess that arrived in the late 90′s. The first two tracks, “Let it Rattle” and “Drum Roll” are appropriately titled and start the album hurtling into live, rapid motion.
While the album has its louder tendencies it can hit on the soft spot as well. “Purexed”, “Optimist (We Are Not for Them)” and “Never Better” allow P.O.S. voice to shine over what is almost surprisingly melodic beats. It makes for a good change of pace to the hardened fury of both his rhymes and the production on some of the rest of the album.
“Purexed”, along with “Goodbye” are two of the album’s sure-fire standouts. Both songs are assertions of individuality and ideals, as P.O.S. puts it, “Yeah we do our own damn thing, we dont blink at what tomorrow might bring.” “Goodbye” has P.O.S. expressing his many frustrations wanting to live life one way, but fighting the limitations as lays down, “So many lives in so many lines waitin’, theres only so much time so many die patient.”
“Been Afraid” is a solid track that conjures up a fog soaked dock at midnight, with heavy production for a dark story of domestic abuse. Meanwhile, “Low Light Low Life” is a solid piece of boom bap that would be home to any MC and is almost begging for a NYC team-up. He showcases his rhymes on “Get Smokes”, a beat that is almost absent, yet not necessary.
Yet again, a Minnesota MC shows he’s capable of rhyming on the same stage with anyone from NYC, Atlanta or LA. P.O.S has shown three years is too long of an absence for someone of his talents. It will be interesting to see after taking a more rock oriented approach on this album than his last, how he will follow up Never Better. – Dane Johnson
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