Q&A: P.O.S. Talks the Doomtree Collective and Not Playing Your Standard, Dumb-Downed Rap

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Stefon Alexander, better known by his stage name


, is a rapper, singer and founding member of the hip-hop collective known as


. And that nine member group of MCs, producers and DJs is currently out on tour together for the first time. Featuring the talents of P.O.S., Dessa, Cecil Otter and Lazerbeak, the Doomtree ensemble is an enigmatic and immensely gifted collection of folks who transcend the standard notions of hip-hop.

Tonight, the collective stops through Denton for a gig at Hailey's Club. In advance of this gig, we recently caught up with P.O.S. Speaking from his hometown of Minneapolis, he was kind enough to discuss the current tour and his place amongst his home city's legendary musical legacy.

What is it about Minneapolis that continues to make that city a place that produces such seminal musical acts?
I think it's just a vibe the area has. Maybe the long winters keep people inside and they have to make music. I don't know, but I sure like living here.

On this tour, you'll be appearing with the entire roster of the Doomtree collective. Do you ever get tired of these people?
No, no, it's not like that. I see these people every week and I've seen these people every week for 10 years now. We all know the common work-arounds and things like that. These people are my family. We feed off one another. We grow as musicians because of each other.

Does anyone still call you Stefon?
Yes, anyone who wants to. People call me P.O.S. and take liberties with it all of the time. I put my real name out there. I am not ashamed of it. Anyone can look it up. In high school, they called me Pissed Off Stef. I guess I was pissed off a lot.

What were you pissed off about?
Just about the common stuff -- going through adolescence and all that. Being pissed off is what got me into hardcore punk. Stuff like Black Flag and Bad Brains. The overall vibe of those bands was so solid. It spoke to me.

You are in several bands right now. How many side projects can you have?
A lot. It's a fear I have. If I only made rap music, I would probably go crazy.

Was the Doomtree Collective your idea?
No, it was me and some other people just trying to figure out the best thing to do, the best way to make our music and spread our music.

What was it about your second album, 2006's Audition, that raised your national profile so much?
I think it was the fact that it wasn't your standard, bragging, dumb-downed rap. I worked hard not to sound like everybody else. That is important to me. I want to use my influences to make different music.

Are you involved in the intricate packaging of your CDs as well?
Yes, those are all my ideas. I come up with the art work and I show it to some people and get their ideas about it. It's a pretty standard process.

In the past, you've talked about rappers being obsessed with money. Aren't all pop musicians obsessed with money?
Yes, it's all a lot of bullshit. I am not mad at people making money. That's a part of the musical culture, but it's not me.

Being successful is not important to you?
Being successful is great, but success means a lot of things to a lot of people. People lose a lot of their civility striving for monetary success. There are other things to work for. That's for certain.

What has success done for you?
It's given me another way to figure out what's great in life. Making music is worth doing because of the friends, because of the relationships. It's not all about the money. Success is meeting people at shows, talking with people who find something interesting in your music.

P.O.S., the rest of the Doomtree Collective and Astronautalis perform tonight at Hailey's CLub in Denton

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