4 out of 5
Produced by: Lazerbeak, P.O.S. (executive produced by)
P.O.S. has been making waves since his debut, Ipecac Neat, thanks to his punk-fueled, dynamic persona, which smoothed over his occasionally stumbling backpack rhymes. More polish informed his (proper) Rhymesayers debut, Audition, though his focus was still maturing, unable to let the teen rebel slip away. Never Better’s single, drum roll, was a landmark achievement in moving style forward on all fronts, bringing together his passion for various styles of music with advanced wordplay and more consciously / world-aware subject matter. I might say that We Don’t Even Live Here swung the pendulum too far in the latter direction to some extent, some tracks wrapped in social rhetoric that felt eye-rollingly at odds with some of the club tracks on there, but the eye rolls couldn’t distract from the perfection of the disc’s beats and composition, and even when slinging politics P.O.S.’ delivery was slick as hell.
Upward trajectory was the common denominator along the way, but We Don’t Even felt like a thesis for taking over the world; it suddenly seemed like P.O.S.’ crew – Doomtree – was everywhere, their brand and its offshoots growing bigger by the minute.
Were there expectations for his next release? Of course, but P.O.S.’s catalogue is enjoyable front to back, his skills apparent from the get-go. You just need to pick your mood, match it with the album, and hit play. So my only expectation was that I would get another shift, and another madly listenable option. The only disappointment would be if P.O.S. repeated himself.
Chill, Dummy, post (apparently) a kidney transplant, finds the artist looking inward once again, reembracing the rawness of Ipecac, Neat but bubbled up through subsequent years of musical confidence-building, achieving an interestingly patchwork album that brings to mind, at times, the new-idea-a-minute madness of Soul-Junk’s selected moments in hip-hop. Tracks tend to stumble into one another (and several have similar names, whether or not that was purposeful), with track times ranging from a general 4/5 minutes down to a couple under two-minute tracks, and the conclusive Sleepdrone/Superposition, hitting eight minutes. The album is eminently listenable, bouncing between grimier styles (Bully) and more playful ones (Roddy Piper), but this sprawling approach also prevents there from being a clear single. When I say the tracks stumble into one another, I mean exactly that: Lanes just sort of cuts out; lead-in Born a Snake becomes followup Wearing a Bear in the blink of an eye; and that epic-length ender could be three or four bits stitched together. None of this is disruptive. It is, in a way, a palette cleanser from the previous releases, which all had clear standout moments, whereas Chill, Dummy must be taken as a whole. It’s fitting, then, that this is the first Doomtree-only release since Ipecac, with the albums inbetween co-releases with Rhymesayers (Ipecac was re-released by the RS crew, but initially it was a Doomtree release), seemingly representative of P.O.S.’ growth and willingness to step out on his own once more.
Lyrically, despite our current Trump administration and the election leading up to it offering ample targets, Chill’s concepts seem to be more philosophical. Not always on-point, necessarily – P.O.S. reaches for metaphors and always has, and makes the hipster gaffe of concept-dropping quantum physics into the mix – but there’s a rambling flow (synced up with the album’s aforementioned pacing) that makes it all work as a catalogue of interesting ideas.
Chill, Dummy might be lacking in a single attention-grabbing moment, and P.O.S.’ thought-stream occasionally stretches too far to make a point. But by embracing a sense of looseness, yet relying on his now-seasoned skills, the rapper has dropped yet another unique, rewarding experience upon us; another fun choice to add to Which P.O.S. album do I want to listen to today?