We caught up with Urban Bean regular and local rap star P.O.S. aka Stef Alexander (notice our menu board) about how he started rapping, his latest projects and life outside music. This past week he released a new album with friend Astronautalis called “Four Fists” that can be ordered online through Doomtree. Read on to learn more about local punk, rap fusion artist, P.O.S.
When was the first time you sat down and wrote a rhyme? Would you give us a bar?
5th grade. Well, I probably wrote before 5th grade. The first thing I remember recording was on my tape recorder that I got in 2nd or 3rd grade. I remember banging on my football helmet while rapping into my tape recorder and I said, “ I’ll hit you in the head with a piece of cornbread, dude.” That was like the first bar I remember.
Then, I wrote rhymes for me and two other friends and we made a cassette tape for our group called “The 5th Grade Crew” which was me, this kid Mikey and the other kid I forgot, but I just wrote everybody’s raps.
Then I stopped caring about rap music until I was twenty.
What was your first band? Was it Building Better Bombs?
Nah, it was the Degenerates.
Was it a punk band?
They were almost all punk bands.
Did any of the people involved in Doomtree take part in any of your early work?
Some of those guys were in loud bands and quiet bands, were you ever in a quiet band?
No, I’ll probably do that when I’m nice and old. When I’m like fifty-five or sixty. I’ll probably get into my bluesman era.
How did Doomtree start? Did you set goals as a group in the beginning?
Nah, I think it was how are we going to make music and put out records. The idea of coming from punk rock, underground and DIY area, was not to make demos and send them to labels, it was to just make albums and figure out how to put them out. With every release we figured out a clearer idea of what we were trying to do.
So one year we would put out like five records, the next year we would put out one record. During that year of one record, we would be handling the business of fixing all the mistakes of the year before. Then the third year we would put out six records, then the year after that we would put out one or two records again and figure out the mistakes from the previous year, until we got a nice ball rolling.
How did you guys figure out the best combinations and groups to make and perform your music?
At first, it was just Cecil Otter and I as the rappers. Doomtree was originally going to be just a production team. We met a bunch of people and things developed from there, but our original intent was to just make beats. Like, an in-house production team.
What made you call Sims and say stop being a carpenter and come rap? How did you connect with Mictlan?
Mictlan was from Los Angeles, but he went to the same high school as us for a year. He got kicked out of house to go live with his uncle in Minneapolis, all "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" style. We met at a party called Sethtoberfest, I ended up rapping and from there we just got along really well. Him and Lazerbeak kept in contact. Beak would send him beats in the mail, he would write to him. Then after we got the ball rolling a bit, we told him that he had to come move here so we can do stuff.
Sims was one of those things where when he was in his first rap group, I think I was giving him beats or something like that. After a minute, I realized that he was really good and I liked working with him. So, he quit school to start rapping.
So, how did Dessa join Doomtree?
Dessa and Sims were a couple of the last people to join Doomtree. Me and Dessa we dating at the time and I didn’t know how to ask her to be in the crew because we were dating, but everybody else asked her to be in the crew without telling me.
You have a thirteen-year-old son that you had with a woman when you were pretty young. You live with this woman, but you’re not together, right?
Yeah, we tried to move everyone we cared about into one place and see how it worked. It doesn’t necessarily work all the time, but as far as me and kids’ moms we all live together in a house trying to make it work. We all get along.
Who’s to say that your arrangement is better that a traditional set-up.
It’s better than traditional. It’s better than what we can do traditionally.
So that arrangement makes more sense than them living somewhere else and you visiting or having trade-offs?
Yeah, right now it makes a lot more sense to me just because when me and Christin had Jake, I was seventeen and she was nineteen, I was afraid of all the resentment that would come from having a baby-mama. All of that drama usually comes from what they’re doing, who they’re with now and stuff like that, like jealousy. A lot of things that are irrelevant to us. We’re adults, we’ve kind of gotten past a lot of that stuff. There were definitely years when we didn’t get along, but since getting past it we’re really close friends and it makes sense that now we can both be in Jake’s life and there for each other.
Could you tell us about the Marijuana Deathsquads project you’re currently apart of?
Marijuana Deathsquads are doing a residency at Ice House in Minneapolis, Friday, Wednesday, Friday, Wednesday, this may be the fourth or fifth residency we’ve done. Marijuana Deathsqauds are from the ashes of our hardcore band Building Better Bombs. We got sick of playing guitars and started doing dancy, digital kind of stuff. I rap primarily; it’s my job so I’m on tour all the time, when I go on tour with POS, Building Better Bombs won’t be able to play shows. The plan was to make this band a revolving door of our friends where anybody can sit down and as long as you’re familiar with what we’re trying to do you’ll be able to pitch in. So it’s kind of everybody’s band.
Can you give us the core group rundown of who’s in it?
Isaac from Building Better Bombs, one of the better video directors in the city, Ryan Olson, Drew and Ben from Policia, Jason from Slapping Purses, Mark from To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie, Jeremy from Spyder Baybie Raw Dog, that’s the core. Then we have floating drummers and other members. Channy from Policia plays with us sometimes.
I have yet to make music with someone I haven’t liked.
On that note, have you ever been approached by someone to make music and it hasn’t clicked?
There are a lot of upcoming rappers who hit me up to get guest verses and stuff like that. If I feel what they’re doing and I have the time, but if it’s going to be a lot of extra work and I don’t have that extra time I won’t do it.
I am big on collaborating, but I’m mostly into collaborating with friends. I make lots of music, but I make it really slowly. I take forever on my rap records. I take forever on pretty much everything I do. I want to be really good and I want to represent what I’m all about.
Does that come from making some mistakes in the past?
I’ve only gone on two tours that I didn’t really love. I love touring and I love playing shows. I want to be able to represent well and I want people take my lyrics as a real thing. I don’t want it to just be dumb (Stef chuckles).
Are most of your lyrics inspired by life?
I talk about my ideal life as much as I talk about my real life. But, I don’t glamorize garbage, and I think a lot of things are garbage. I brag about shit that I think is cool, as opposed to money and hoes. That’s not cool.
What’s your drink?
My very favorite coffee drink is probably a spicy mocha. Some kind of mocha that has hot peppers, some of spice to it. Like, Sebastian Joe’s has that chocolate with cayenne ice cream? (Everyone in the room gasps in excitement and says in unison, “so good!”) If I can get that as a coffee drink I’m set. I like a little sized coffee, I’ll sip on it then I’ll ask for another one. I’ll blast it then I’ll see where my jitters are at.
credits: photos by Eliesa Johnson