P.O.S. | Audition (Rhymesayers)

P.O.S. touches on different lyrical subjects, uses a number of flows, creates/chooses different sounding beats, and even invites guests from various genres to contribute to the album.

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If one word could be used to describe rapper P.O.S.’s sophomore album Audition, it would be “variety.” P.O.S. touches on different lyrical subjects, uses a number of flows, creates/chooses different sounding beats, and even invites guests from various genres to contribute to the album. If it weren’t for his voice, it might even be possible to think that the man behind the autobiography/statement of philosophy song “De La Souls” and its melodic beat is a completely different artist than the one who made “Half-Cocked Concepts.” In that song, the former Stefon Alexander delivers a fiery rant against ignorance and the war in Iraq over a loud, abrasive rock backing that he co-produced. It would likely play better in a mosh pit than a break-dancing circle and shows how the former P.O.S.’s punk-rock background has clearly influenced his style. Such musical diversity is refreshing in a genre as repetitive as hip-hop and lends credibility to “De La Souls”’s hook that “No one will ever be like me”.

As P.O.S. is consistently good on the mic, what separates the good tracks from the great tracks on Audition are the beats. These are handled by Emily Bloodmobile, Lazerbeak, Marshall Larada, and P.O.S., who are all members of the Doomtree collective. A few missteps arrive in the form of “P.O.S. is Ruining My Life” and “Living Slightly Larger,” which lack memorable melodies. Also, the noisy interlude “Suicide Uma” is too annoying for even its 30-second length. Excluding those songs, P.O.S.’s production on Audition is clever and inventive. He uses many drum rhythms and varying sounds to create enjoyable beats, with the laid-back groove of “Bush-League Psyche-Out Stuff” being a particular highlight. It doesn’t hurt that Slug rips his guest spot, either. When paired with Emily Bloodmobile (who co-produces three of the tracks), P.O.S. brings the noise with an aggressive, distorted hardcore-punk sound that serves his barked lyrics well on “Half-Cocked Concepts” and the excellent “Yeah Right (Science Science).” But the producer who steals the show is Lazerbeak, who samples epic sounding backings ripe with horns, layers of percussion, and other textures to create a fantastic cinematic sound that compliments P.O.S. well, especially on “Stand Up (Let’s Get Murdered).”

It is worth noting that Audition for the most part avoids the main pitfalls of albums that attempt many styles, the first being an inability to execute all the styles attempted. While he is better at his energetic, angry style than he his with his introspective approach, he pulls both moods off with the skill necessary to make the tracks work. Because of the sheer amount of styles, P.O.S. is less successful at keeping Audition cohesive; however, he is still able to give the album the identity and feel it needs to make for a good listen.

Unfortunately, the disc doesn’t quite reach its full potential. For one thing, P.O.S. could afford to lighten up when rhyming. While it’s evident from pre and post-song ad-libs that he has a sense of humor (“You drink Fresca? You’re fired!”), he comes across as too angry and/or angst-ridden too often. P.O.S. also sings and yells when not rapping, neither of which sat well with this reviewer.

Despite these flaws, Audition succeeds in being a solid album for those looking for something different from hip-hop. There is room for improvement, but P.O.S. has proven that he deserves a spot on the venerable Rhymesayers roster.

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