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STEFON ALEXANDER can't tell you the difference between a hipster and a douche bag. "Everybody just wants to make some money for themselves and look cooler than everybody else," he sighs, failing to exclude himself. A stylistically transient rapper from Minneapolis, he stops at the conclusion of each sentence, breathes, and talks onward with the timely abruptness of a MUM bus. When conversing, he arrives at distinct, sequential points that may initially be surprising to those unfamiliar with his abrasive, genuine records.

Never Better is a heavy album, the latest by Stef, who makes music as POS. Whether his moniker is a self-loathing acronym for the obvious or inverted Italian food is determined by the aural and lyrical context. At any point on his new record he may be hammering a bass guitar, producing laser noises from a synthesizer, or chanting Fugazi lyrics amidst rampant scratching. "It depends on the song," he says. "It depends on the mood. Everything from Product of Society or Promise of Stress. Parrot Over Shoulder, Pasta on Sauce. It's one of those things that was a really stupid rap name but it stuck and that's what it is."

Whatever it is, it seems grounded but promising. Never Better deals with issues of tolerance, hope, prescription drugs, the Glover family, and a number of other things most people deal with on personal and cultural levels. "I'm talking to anybody who cares and listens and is a part of what I'm doing," he says.

He covers a lot of ground, too, often violently antagonizing and sometimes seeming more observant than critical, as if he's willing to just move forward. "A lot of my personal growth since [the last record] Audition has to do with me just being older. I'm 27; my son is nine. I was t7 when he was born, and it's like there's a lot of growth that comes with that." He smiles, seeming confident and excited about whatever is next.

At his current touring pace he's sure to encounter the future sooner than later. Most of the lyrics on Never Better were written in a moving vehicle--namely, Stef's Econoline. "I get a lot done in my van. It's maybe not 'green' or anything, but doing things in a clean, socially responsible way costs more."

Reasoning further, he says, "I guess it isn't the first thing on my mind because, currently, it's the first thing on everyone else's mind. I'm more thinking about how to make people stop calling me an 'Obama-loving welfare monkey' on MySpace. That isn't green to me."

Whether in reference to sleeping in a van or suffering the slings and arrows of Internet retards, a lot of the music on Never Better acknowledges personal sacrifice, its use as a vehicle for greater cultural change, and the fact that getting there is often the best part anyway. "I've got this Econoline that we tour in. That's what it's about, dude. It's about living. It's all about the journey and not the destination." Maybe the "P" stands for "progress."

The new POS album, Never Better, is out now on Rhymesayers Entertainment.
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Title Annotation:ZOUNDS
Author:Blaha, Clayton
Date:Jun 1, 2009
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