On P.O.S’ 2017 song “Pieces/Ruins,” the rapper laments the pitfalls of conformity. The pictures of destroyed neighborhoods detailed on the song make the rapper’s peers seem irresponsible. Little does the audience know, these peers have been caught in a hopeless trap. Society has already painted a picture of how they see impoverished, minority citizens in this country, so many people sadly are destined to fall prey to the system. The lack of resources and funding in these communities coupled with the ever-present threat of racism and police brutality creates a cycle of desperation. It is hard to rise up in this environment.
While difficult, P.O.S brilliantly displays the importance in doing so with the line “Guns look dumb on chumps like me.” This line, as simplistic as it may appear, accomplishes something truly magnificent. The line both totally mocks the negative stereotypes that uninformed society associates with black Americans and critiques the machismo attitude found regularly in hip-hop. While this line at the surface level makes P.O.S sound tame, his delivery and confidence shine through as the song progresses. His words are proof that you do not have to be subjected to the image society paints of you. You can be whoever you want to be and still be considered an absolute threat.
On P.O.S’ latest project, he is teaming up with eclectic producer-rapper Astronautalis for the second time in five years. The match is certainly a great idea in theory as both parties thrive on their eccentricities. While variety is certainly a nice start to something great, content still reigns supreme in the hip-hop genre. So that begs the question, did this latest project live up to the bar that these two artists have set for themselves?
From the get-go, it is clear that the answer to that question will be yes. “Nobody’s Biz” is a political jack-hammer that imposes its will onto the listeners. The calls for white riots in this opener show that both emcees have had enough. They want to see all citizens of this world participating in the fight for equality. This message is driven home with impassioned deliveries and creative imagery. Perhaps the best example of this imagery is Astronautalis’ line “Speaking in NPR voices with stern glances / Pullin’ out stats faster than cops pull they weapons round blacks.” While the line is certainly angry and coated with emotion, it is poignant because it is not all that absurdist at all. Hypocritical or close-minded behavior has created a gruesome conflict in our society.
Sadly, the energy after this track dissipates a little bit. Tracks two through four are easy to lump together as they have a very similar sonic base. “Annihilation,” luckily, regains the momentum of the project at track five. The abrasive, distorted screams in the chorus are possible the most charged moments on this entire record. The bouncy trap drums over this fuzzy bass wonderland also can’t help but enthrall the listener. The sonic contradictions taking place here are jarring but successful. This track serves as a microcosm for the rest of the record. The sonic contradictions mentioned above on “Annihilation” are indicative of the two parts of this album.
After track five, a more melodic and catchy sound begins to set in. “Joe Strummer” and “Fjortis” are earworms to the highest degree. The musicality of the beat coupled with the more intimate lyricism really makes a great contrast to the former half of the record. While these two songs are great, the best contrast to “Nobody’s Biz” is the album closer “Unjinxed.” The unrelenting aggression of the opener is paired with a danceable and anthemic closer. The instrumental break about halfway through this track is irresistible. Funky guitar interplay, glorious vocals and a loose drum groove join together to make something that is utterly infectious. It is perhaps the high point for the record. At the end of the day, isn’t that exactly what the closer should be?
While occasionally 6666 loses momentum, it still packs an incredible punch both sonically and lyrically. Its duality in sonic focus shows the listener that while things often seem indescribably daunting or downright depressing, there is always positivity and light to be found. There is still a group of people working to make the world a better and more equal place. There’s still a group of Joe Strummers out there somewhere.