Interview: P.O.S. of Doomtree Talks Anarchy In a Rigged Society
P.O.S., real name Stefon Alexander, returned last year with a fourth solo album that painted a bright red bullseye on sociopolitical blinders and silly hack-rap trends. The Rhymesayers Entertainment wildcard and founding Doomtree member delivered a downright flabbergastingly fantastic album that serves as a perfect anarchist’s party playlist, and happened to top CraveOnline’s list of the best albums of 2012.
Produced by all-star engineer and Minneapolis high school acquaintance Andrew Dawson, We Don’t Even Live Here follows 2009′s stellar Never Better with a more aggressive, effects-rich instrumentation surge that dismantles Pfizer-fade bottle-poppin’ culture with a recurring “oh shit, rewind that” barrage of lyrical tyranny over powerfully nuanced, percussively driven backdrops.
As Stef waits for a new kidney to get him back in fighting shape after some health setbacks in late 2012, we caught up with the lyrical firestarter to discuss his relationship with the Rhymesayers collective, the dangers of hating the game and not the player, what 2013 has in store and more.
You’ve got a line in “Wanted/Wasted” that says “Peace to Anonymous, good lookin’ out” – and now they’re giving you love on Twitter. That’s a nice spin on art imitating life imitating art imitating life.
Yeah they retweeted two of my videos. It was really cool cause I’ve been a follower of those guys for pretty much as long as they’ve been around. So to get a shout-out back is kinda tight. Anonymous was doing shit before the Occupy movement, and they’ve done a lot of really cool shit. A lot of stuff that’s been active and in your face, whereas with Occupy, it didn’t do very much of that kind of stuff.
You can ignore the Occupy movement, but if someone’s shutting down your bank or putting up your credit card information, suddenly…
Yeah, even if it’s just little shit it’s not easy to ignore.
You’ve said that the system of capitalism we live in is counterproductive to the expansion of human evolution. I agree – can you expand on that?
To put it simply, you don’t have time to grow. You don’t have time to try out new things if everything you do has to do with just making enough money to live. If you’re spending all your money on rent, bills, food, and you’re spending all your time thinking about getting money for your rent, bills, food, you’re not thinking of ways to progress. You’re not finding the time to do it, because you’ve gotta get fucking money. Zoom out on that, and progress is halted. You have to be one of the few people who is born wealthy or super intelligent to have the time or money to do anything truly progressive. And the way that our system is, you can’t truly innovate anything because you have to figure out how to monetize it. Everything we have is only built to last a little bit longer so they can sell you the same thing again, the update.
As a system, it clearly hasn’t failed yet, but it doesn’t help push things forward. If we had iPhones that never broke and you just got the operating system sent to you whenever there’s a new update… whatever. You wouldn’t have to be using the resources every single time just so you can sell the same thing. You can make something that will work and stay working. You don’t make a Chevy with a Mazda transmission that goes for four years.
It’s an overall mindset that people need to shift away from, the bigger better faster more NOW shit. It’s hardwired into our value system.
I think people need to realize that they’re in that mindstate before they can shift away from it. I think that it’s just so bred in that people aren’t thinking that there’s another way.
There’s a greater sense of futility than ever these days, that people can’t make a difference. People can’t be heard, there’s too much noise, and nobody can afford shit – least of all to be heard by our representatives in a legitimate way. You don’t have enough lobbyists to matter.
I’m talkin’ about you don’t have enough money to say anything. Your voice is completely useless unless you’re rich as fuck. I feel like a lot of people feel like that’s the case. Like you said, if you don’t have lobbyists that’s one thing, you don’t have money, and it’s really difficult to feel like you’re getting heard.
The entire record is a middle finger to the societal standard of proud shallowness and diffusion of cultural responsibility. It’s not enough to get people to stand up for what they believe in – they need to be reminded that it’s actually okay to invest themselves in changing things. But anarchy is a scary word to most people, when you look at the real scope of it.
It is. But I don’t think it’s any more scary than realizing that there’s a lot of things wrong, and doing nothing. I think that’s way, way more terrifying than any kind of movement.
That “hate the game not the player” concept is the chief enabler of a shitty society. The individual needs to feel responsible. Diffusion of responsibility is a cancer, but it’s a cultural phenomenon right now.
Absolutely. It’s huge. It’s huge. Everybody wants to put it off for the next person and say fuck it, that’s how it is, what can you do, you know? NDAA gets signed into law behind everybody’s back.
On New Year’s Eve while everyone’s out partying, no less. Then when it comes back around it’s even expanded on.
You’re a part of Rhymesayers, which is known for having a very familial structure. How do you fit into that world?
I don’t know. (laughs) I really don’t. We’d already started Doomtree when I signed to Rhymesayers. But we weren’t actually ready to put out a record, we didn’t know what we were doing. We had just started. We were the kind of people who grew up not just listening to Wu-Tang, but thinking they’re a crew. They all live together, they’re best friends, they probably all split everything evenly between all of them. They’re always together because they’re a crew. We grew up thinking that’s what Rhymesayers was.
I think when I signed to Rhymesayers, I was first of all being allowed into what I thought was, what? Really? They’re going to let me do that with them? That’s fucking tight! And they’ve been completely supportive of pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted to do, as an artist and as a dude. That’s kinda that (laughs)
I always wondered how you straddled the world, especially cause Doomtree’s been so active in the past year.
Yeah, there’s never ben a conflict. I think early on we asked them a lot of advice because they were down the street and they had advice to give, you know? But I think after a little bit we wanteed to figure out how to do our own shit. There’s always been a mutual respect kind of thing. But the people in Doomtree are the people I grew up with and I’ve always known, so it’s automatically going to have a different feel. The same way that everybody in Rhymesayers, those are all people who for the most part went to high school together or growing up together.
They took a chance signing me, having not been a core dude within their community. But it’s been pretty awesome, I feel like, for everybody.
What’s the plan for Doomtree in 2013?
Dessa’s in the studio right now, Mike is working on his full length, Sims just started working on something, I’m always working on something… you know.
Keep up with P.O.S. at the official Doomtree site.