P.O.S.'s Ipecac Neat is 10 years old
It's been a decade since a young P.O.S., a.k.a. Stefon Alexander, released his debut, Ipecac Neat. It was the first official Doomtree full-length that sparked their ascension from hip-hop outsiders to local legends and nationally recognized artists. The raw and uncompromising album draws equal inspiration from Stef's punk-rock proclivities and the emotive DIY underground rap scene in Minneapolis, creating abrasive and original hip-hop that's intensely personal and political.
Gimme Noise spoke with P.O.S. and album contributor Lazerbeak about the album's origins and impact.
Gimme Noise: Can you give a brief background on some of the stuff that came before this album, such as the False Hopes series or Cenospecies, the Indefinition album? What was recording like in the early days?
P.O.S.: Cenospecies was the first real rap thing I did. That pretty much happened because I only knew one rapper [laughs]. I knew a few rappers, but they were all in groups. I made a record with [Syst], the guy from Cenospecies. He had been a dude I rapped with in high school, and I called him up to see if he was still rapping, and he just happened to be about to go make a record, and we just made that record together, and then we stopped working together almost immediately after that record. We did not get along very well. It's fine.
And then me and Cecil worked on the first False Hopes; I don't even remember how that happened. I knew that he rapped, he rapped for fun, and then I kind of like forced him to rap for serious [laughs]. I think that was it. We just recorded songs at the house. I think everything was very much, "Well, now we got these songs, what should we do? Ok, put 'em out!" There wasn't any kind of plan.
What led up to Ipecac Neat?
P.O.S.: When Cenospecies broke up, we still had probably six or seven shows on the books, so I wrote more songs so I would have something to play at the shows, cuz I booked the shows. I invited other friends that I had that rapped to come play those shows with me so it wasn;t just me playing the few songs I had. At the end of all those shows that were booked, I had a handful of songs; like, shit, I've got these songs, I should put out an album. So I recorded them, and Ipecac Neat is pretty much every solo song that I had written up to that point. Just all of them, I think we only cut one song off the record, and it somehow still made it onto the clean version. I wasn't planning to make a record, I just realized I had a bunch of songs, like, oh shit, I could make a record.
Where was Ipecac Neat recorded?
P.O.S.: The record was recorded half at my house, which was right over on Garfield over by Pizza Luce. Half the record was recorded there, and half the record was recorded in a living room in the house directly across the street from Pizza Luce [laughs]. There were no studios involved, just the living rooms of our neighbor's house and the basement of our house. I remember spending a long time trying to decide with original Doomtree member Bobby Gorgeous (my buddy Rob), whether or not we should buy a four-track or Pro Tools. I remember being like, we can't get Pro Tools, cuz that means you have to get a computer, you have to get all this stuff. So we tried pretty much every device that you could use and they all broke and we ended up getting a computer anyway. Haven't looked back since.
Lazerbeak: The Doomtree house had a practice space basement that had soundproofing and all that shit. The initial recording of [the Plastic Constellations' record] Mazatlan, Stef did around the same time as he was making Ipecac Neat. I think that's kind of why I ended up singing on a couple of those records.
P.O.S.: [Big] Zach from Kanser always asked me before shows, "Hey Stef, are you gonna scream at these kids again?" I remember being at Bon Appetit and all the rap heads would be around, and I would just get out and rap as hard and loud as I can. I came from the punk scene where there was a lot of jumping around and being loud, and it was always kind of a part of my style to be a little shouty, super-aggressive.
Especially at that time, a lot of the established hip-hop acts in the city didn't really want anything to do with Doomtree at all, so we just played shows with rock bands and metal bands and hardcore bands. We kind of built what we thought was our own little scene. The shows were rowdy, really fun. My style was especially unrefined. I look at some videos from that time period and I am baffled that anyone wanted to see that [laughs].