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SF Station Talks with the Rapper/Punk Rocker

Crunching guitars, aggressive screaming and punk-rock cameos are not commonly found on hip-hop albums. But P.O.S. (a.k.a. Stefon Alexander) is not your common rapper. His early musical roots were in the Midwest punk rock scene, and he still fronts a hardcore band when he's not following his hip-hop pursuits. After extensive touring with Rhymesayers Entertainment-label mate Atmosphere, the Minneapolis-based rapper finds himself on the road headlining his first tour -- the P.O.S. Is Ruining My Life Tour, which stops at Bottom of the Hill on March 4th.

P.O.S. spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from the road. His first album with extensive distribution, Audition, was released in January.

SF Station (SFS): Your name P.O.S. has different meanings at different times. What does it mean right now?

P.O.S.: I don't know. I'm just Step right now. I'm just sitting and taking it easy. It's been kind of stressful, but it's been a lot of fun. This is my first headliner (tour).

SFS: What has been stressing you out?

P.O.S.: Just trying to make sure there's people at the shows, and not trying to worry about it that much.

SFS: When is the last time you had to audition for something?

P.O.S.: I guess when the record came out Jan. 31. It's called Audition for a reason. I dug and put out a record with every piece of style I could muster. Before that, I don't think I auditioned for anything. I was in a high school play.

SFS: What was your role?

P.O.S.: I was a dancing black guy (laughs). I played a little Russian dancing guy. It didn't make any sense, but it was fun.

SFS: On your album cover, there's a string wrapped around your neck that is attached to a trailer hitch, what are you trying to say with that concept?

P.O.S.: It's the whole, P.O.S.-is-ruining-my-life concept. It's a double-edged sword. Right now I get to travel and tour the country, I get to play shows and do this as my job. I get to make friends and hopefully I get to sell a record or two. But, the cord gets tighter around the neck when I realize I don't get to see my son for the next two months, except for when he comes out to visit while I'm on tour. I don't get to build and keep a good relationship with a girl at home. No girl wants to date a dude that's on tour six months out of the year. It doesn't seem like the most appealing thing.

SFS: Before you started pursuing your rap career, you were into the punk-rock scene. Did you lose any friends after you started rapping?

P.O.S.: No, because I didn't ever quit doing anything. I still play guitar and sing in a hardcore band. I never traded one for the other. It's always just been parallel.

SFS: Have you ever thought of merging the two together with a live band while you rap?

P.O.S.: Yeah, but it wouldn't be a hardcore band. I think that's kind of a bad idea. People already get the wrong idea about what I'm doing when they read my press release. They think I'm a rock rapper. They read the press release and don't get it. I kind of don't want that word tagged to me. The last thing I need to do is bring a band around to make it seem like rap rock.

SFS: How would you describe the Minneapolis hip hop scene?

P.O.S.: It's open. All this music, a lot of people want to call it emo (hip hop). It's not really emo, it's just honest. We don't make shit up, and if we do make shit up it's a story and it's clear that it's a story. Minneapolis is a place that's cold, dark and horrible five months out of the year and you get some cold, dark, horrible shit out of it.

Minneapolis is a great city for music and it always has been. Husker Du and the Replacements, to Dillinger Four and Atmosphere -- it's a great place for all types of music. All that music tends to sound different from everything else that is coming out. It might just be from where we are on the map; equal influences from everywhere make it sound like its own thing.

P.O.S performs at Bottom of the Hill on March 4th. Admission is $7. DJ Turbo Nemesis, Sims of Doomtree, Silent Army and Mac Lethal are also on the bill.