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P.O.S. - Audition

Released on Rhymesayers Entertainment, 1/31/06

Before Limp Bizkit and the clone army that followed turned the term "rap rock" into a vulgarity for most music fans, a select crew of MCs, DJs and rock musicians joined ranks to collaborate on a new brand of music. The Beastie Boys, with their Zeppelin samples; Run-DMC with Aerosmith; and Public Enemy's collaboration with Anthrax are obvious points of reference. But, later groups such as the ruckus Onxy/Biohazard pairing and the seminal Judgment Night soundtrack, continued to break down barriers that separated the realms of rap and rock.

Now, in the afterglow of so-called Nu-metal's dismissal, P.O.S. emerges -- a rapper who seamlessly fuses elements of rock with crushing drumbeats, and lyrics of urgency and desperation. His second LP Audition makes an undeniable statement: It's okay to create rap music that rocks.

But, putting genre-bending statements aside and P.O.S. presents a far different picture. There's desperation for change, for action, for anything but the status quo, which is all the mainstream rap industry seems to be offering these days.

After a 19-second stretch ("Audition iPecac"), P.O.S, gets to business, "First of all fuck Bush/that's all/that's it." Drums crash, guitars are amplified, and an electric bass emits an urgent, one-note line. Then comes the screaming: "Get up/Get up/Get up/Get Somethin' Done." Welcome to the first minute of "Audition." He's P.O.S: "From the Midwest/the heartland muthafucka/Sipping whole milk muthafucka."

The Minnesota rapper doesn't hide his politics or his emotions. He shines on up-tempo tracks like the first single "Stand Up (Let's Get Murdered)," a call to action in a nation of complacency, while an introspective look at life is offered on slower songs.

"De La Souls", perhaps the least rocking track on Audition features punk rock front man Greg Attonito of the Bouncing Souls, who slights an otherwise entertaining song with a made-for-Toys 'R' Us hook. The track isn't bad, but P.O.S. returns with a far superior punk-rock colabo later in the album on "Safety in Speed (Heavy Metal)" with Craig Finn of. It's a thought provoking slow-burner that withers into nothing.

P.O.S.'s punk rock roots are apparent -- he played bass in a punk rock band and he would fit in better with Bad Brains then Bun B -- but his vocal prowess is undiminished. He can hold his ground rapping solo or on collaborations with other rappers (hear "Bush League Psyche Out Stuff" and "Bleeding Hearts Club," featuring Rhymesayers Entertainment label-mate Slug).

It's no surprise; P.O.S. doesn't reveal the collaborations on "Audition" (there's additional vocalists on six out of 16 songs) on the album's track listing. He's got some help, but he can carry his own weight.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars