If you run out of toilet tissue, rapper P.O.S. suggests you "find the Sunday paper; wipe your ass with the president." The refrain in "Music for Shoplifting," from his March 2005 debut, Ipecac Neat, makes Kanye West's Katrina-incited outburst seem quaint. But if you think that's political, P.O.S.' bad brain has increased its concentration for his forthcoming (January 2006) release, Audition.
"My plan was to make it as abrasive as possible," he says by cell phone from a noisy Bloomington, Ind., club, just minutes before opening for Atmosphere on the 56-city "Pour Me Another" tour. "I want to kind of weed people out," he rasps, hoarse from nonstop shows and cigarettes.
"This will be my first album with major promotion, but instead of softening up, I got a little rougher," says the 24-year-old. "It's a bit softer in that I sing on it some ... but I also scream on it quite a bit, too. Audition is more personal, more political, definitely angrier and overall, more punk."
By "punk," P.O.S. is referring less to a sound than to punk's tendency to disconcert. But the sound is not something he's unfamiliar with; as guitarist, drummer, songwriter and singer in five different Minneapolis bands over the last 12 years, punk is his native language. It shows in Ipecac Neat's use of live drums and guitar, along with drum machine boom-baps.
The thing is, P.O.S. knows how to catch you off-guard. You never know if he'll be swinging his ass off Twista-fast, or speaking asymmetrically in asides, jarring you with things said under his breath, teasing you with long silences. This eccentricity is further intensified by the fact that each of his songs is an intricately drawn-out metaphor built on hard-to-fathom notions like, "I'm not waving, I'm drowning" ("That One").
Quite the revisionist, as the crowd in the club gets noisier, P.O.S. abruptly says, "You know, I think that we should scrap this and start over entirely." Which, when you think about it, isn't an entirely inappropriate summation of his approach to modern music.
-- Makkada B. Sela
P.O.S. with Atmosphere
Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson St., Denver
Thursday, Nov. 10, 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $25; visit fillmoreauditorium.com.