Stefon Alexander has had a bittersweet 2012 thus far. He recently released We Don't Even Live Here, his impressive fourth studio album as P.O.S. but only after having to cancel his national tour in support of the album due to serious health issues.
"I had some kind of unidentified trauma when I was 13 or 14, something that triggered scarring in my kidneys," says Alexander. This had led up to P.O.S. now needing a kidney transplant upon being on dialysis, all of which have obviously had negative effects on his career and recent album release.
The Rhymesayers emcee recently took some time to speak with us about his inspirations for We Don't Even Live Here, some artists he'd like to work with and his optimism despite his current condition, so read through and get caught up with Stef Alexander!
Let's start off with a hot topic. 4 more years of Obama. Thrilled or terrified?
Oh, I don't care [laughs]. I don't know that we're gonna see anything that's too different than what we've been seeing. Hopefully something good happens. I'm not holding my breath.
P.O.S. Has taken on many different meanings over the years. What's it stand for these days?
I don't know, man. I guess I haven't really thought about that in a long time. It stands for one of the worst rap names of all time [laughs].
There's been a lot of your punk roots evident throughout your catalog. Do you purposefully fuse that part of you into your hip hop?
No, I don't think I do. I just think that at this point it's just a natural part of me and how I make music so I think that it just kind of bleeds in, you know? This record more than any, I tried actually not to do that and then it just came out extra hard in the lyrics.
What influences had come into your life since Never Better that you think played a crucial role in creating We Don't Even Live Here?
I think getting into German electro music and my band Marijuana Deathsquads and getting into that kind of shit pulled me into that realm. I think the We Don't Even Live Here vibe is about having kind of a dance party vibe more than Never Better which was me trying to make the most abrasive hip hop I could personally make. I think I just wanted to get rid of guitars. That was the biggest specific thing was that I wanted to like make a record that was more synth based but still stayed super heavy, and I think I got that.
Is We Don't Even Live Here your best album to date?
I think it is. I think with no question it is. I don't think rappers should get worse [laughs].
Who are some artists you've been wanting to work with?
Oh, there's a million artists I'd like to work with. I don't know, man. It's difficult to say just because of the amount of people that – I'm big into collaborations – but if I was gonna narrow it down to one or two, I'd say Mos Def and Slayer [laughs].
What can we expect on this upcoming Doomtree documentary?
Just what it looks like when you got seven of us in a van touring our record for, you know, six months. A little insight into how we run our business and a little insight into us goofin'. It's definitely for fans. It's definitely for people that are into what we're doing and I think that if you've never heard of Doomtree and you watch the documentary you might be curious about us but you might not care. It's hard to have perspective on that as someone who's in Doomtree.
You have a shitload of other projects as well. Anything new going on with Gayngs or Wharf Rats, etc.?
I just talked to dudes from Wharf Rats and everybody's kind of thinking about making some new shit but we haven't come up with exactly what it is yet. So hopefully we get to that soon. I think the plan is to make another 7-inch, make 7-inches until we have enough 7-inches to put out a record some day. We'll see. Something soon.
Desert island scenario; one album for the rest of your life. What would it be?
One?! That is an incredibly difficult question.
Just one. You only had enough time to grab one [laughs].
One album. Just one album for the rest of my life. I would say probably The Shape Of Punk To Come but it really depends on the day because sometimes you want to sing along, sometimes you want to rap along, sometimes you wanna shout along so this is probably the hardest question anyone has ever asked me [laughs].
Now on to a more depressing subject unfortunately. I'm relatively familiar with dialysis but what kind of effect is this having on your career? What effect has these issues had on the recent album release?
It's had a lot of things happen with the release that bummed me out just because I can't go on tour and like tour the record but besides from not being able to tour the record, that's pretty much all. You know, I knew this was coming for a long time so I guess I'm not tripping on having to do dialysis. I've researched it pretty thoroughly before but I'm really bummed that I can't be on the road supporting the record. That's like the biggest deal to me right now, but I know that I'll get a kidney and it'll all be fine. It's just that kind of thing.
You've been getting tremendous fan support in the way of donations. What have you realized from this experience and what would you like to express to those that have been generous enough to help?
I've realized that there's something to be said for not saying yes to anything and building real actual fans that give a shit. It's so much better than saying yes to everything and bouncing off into, you know, stardom. I'd much rather have a dedicated, real fan base.
Any updates on your transplant? How long before you can get back into the full swing of things?
It should take about three to four months before I get back into the swing of things. Three to four months from when I have the transplant. I won't know when I get the transplant for probably another couple weeks. So expect me out there in maybe March/April.
So you are all set to get a kidney though?
I am. I have a handful of donors just from friends and family. Yeah, it shouldn't be too long.
Is your knuckle tat piece especially meaningful for you right now?
Not just right now, all the time [laughs].
Have your current goals as an artist changed at all in light of all of this?
No, not really. Maybe it will after I get the transplant but right now I'm not feeling too far off from where I was, which is whatever comes up I gotta deal with. You know, you just go through it. I mean, it's set me back. I'd love to be out on the road. I'd love to be getting on TV shows and supporting this record to my fullest extent but I can't leave my state, so I'm pretty much just spending time in my studio at home which is a different kind of blessing you know?
Definitely. Lastly, if you were to quit music tomorrow, what would you regret that you never accomplished?
Oh, man. That's a great question. I haven't had a chance to completely uproot hip hop culture yet. I haven't had a chance to like truly destroy the monetary system [laughs].
Is that your ultimate goal as an artist?
My ultimate goal as an artist is to upend capitalist society, fix the face of black culture, make punk rock real again. I don't know, man [laughs]. All the impossible, huge mega goals. It's very difficult to put those into words [laughs].