If there’s such thing as intellectual rap, P.O.S. has found it. Based in Minneapolis, he’s created an album that emanates anger, with uneasy and noisy beats underlining raps that are loud, rough, and guttural. Nevertheless, despite its hostility, Never Better is a lyrically engaging album. The lyrics are impressively thoughtful, and they reflect a punk sense of politics that is easy to relate to.
Even at its heaviest moments, P.O.S. is restrained, with airy and well-produced drums that sometimes are the only thing on a track that’s audible. It’s much less melodic than most rap, which may be the reason that most of these tracks sound the same. P.O.S. is a one-trick pony, and his phrasing or tempo never changes much. Nonetheless, the things he’s good at are very good, and there’s enough variation in the beats to keep it interesting. There is the occasional reference to the injustice racism and the hardships of the urban working poor, but most of the album avoids stereotypes dexterously.
Hip-hop has a long way to go before it truly discovers its experimental and introspective side. That said, Never Better is a good first step, pushing envelopes while remaining catchy and engaging. The album’s highlight is “The Basics (Alright),” a fast-moving trip which masterfully echoes house music with a driving sampled drum ‘n bass rhythm. It’s a good taste of the album as a whole, which is basic and repetitive, but with more complexity that you may expect.
In A Word: Meditate