Combining hip-hop and heavy music can prove disastrous (Limp Bizkit, anyone?). Minneapolis rapper P.O.S. (aka Stefon Alexander), however, proves that when a punk discovers hip-hop, the results can be amazing. Combining four-on-the-floor-style house beats with the exuberance of his punk-rock past, P.O.S. exists in a world where it's okay to bump Fugazi out of your hooptie. On recent tours, P.O.S. has been toeing the line between the two, hopping on the punk-friendly Warped Tour and opening for screamo darlings Saosin. We recently spoke with P.O.S. about how these tours went, what Kid Dynamite meant to him and why hip-hop in Minnesota is thawing out.
Westword: What are the parallels between punk rock and hip-hop?
P.O.S.: Being a fan of rock music first, I think I keep a lot of that in my songwriting now. I feel that in good-quality hip-hop, a lot of it is about the same things that punk talks about. It's about the people you come up with, and it's not about love, like pop music is. The themes between the two have always been very similar to me.
Your last record, Never Better, featured a cameo from Jason Shevchuk [Kid Dynamite, None More Black, LaGrecia]. How did that collaboration come about?
I have a song on my first record called "Lifetime...Kid Dynamite." He had heard about me after someone played him that song. At Gainesville Fest, Paddy Costello from Dillinger Four introduced me to Jason, and we hit it off right away. I sent him the track over e-mail, and didn't give him any direction at all. Actually, none of the cameos I had on this record were given any direction at all, and they all killed it.
Was that scary?
No. That's why I picked the people I did — because I trusted they could do it. I want to see what people can come up with, and so far, that's worked.
How has the reaction been in front of predominantly punk-rock audiences like Gainesville Fest and Warped Tour? Are they as responsive as a hip-hop crowd?
No, not at all! [laughs] But the few who do get into it get into it really hard. That's why I want to do it, though: I feel like there are a lot of people who have never heard a hip-hop song they liked. When I go out and play them one with the same type of passion and aggression they're used to, I think sometimes I change their minds.
The rock history of Minneapolis is a pretty storied one due to bands like the Replacements, Hüsker Dü and Soul Asylum. How is the hip-hop scene there?
It's amazing! People who don't know aren't paying attention! I think the music here is so good mainly because of the cold winters. You're either gonna sit around and get really drunk and waste away, or you're going to get cracking on whatever it is that you do. No one here is trying to hand you anything; everyone here who wants to do it just hustles it.