Listen Current Presents - P.O.S. & Brother Ali
May 25, 2016 Andrea Swensson's Current Presents on October 14, 2012
Fall is often a busy time for album releases, especially here in the Twin Cities. But it's hard to remember another time when two Minnesota artists of this level of prominence released their albums in such a short period of time. In the span of just a month, Minnesota's largest record label, Rhymesayers Entertainment, is releasing studio albums by both P.O.S., whose We Don't Even Live Here drops October 22, and Brother Ali's Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color, which is out now.
On a surface level, these two artists couldn't be more different. P.O.S. identifies as an atheist, while Ali is a practicing Muslim and a prominent figure at his mosque. P.O.S. makes unapologetically aggressive music that blends punk, rap, noise, and dance, while Ali draws from classic soul and gospel influences. And P.O.S. encourages destruction and hostility, while Ali preaches the importance of community and togetherness.
And yet while listening to We Don't Even Live Here alongside Mourning in America, I couldn't help but pick out a few surprising commonalities in their themes, imagery, and tone. These are two emotionally charged and divisive albums that speak to the current political climate, and while listening, I couldn't help but wonder what each artist thought about having their record released in close proximity with the other's newest work.
P.O.S. (known off stage as Stef Alexander) and Brother Ali proved to be gracious interview subjects, and they patiently addressed many of the questions I had about their lyrics, themes, and ideologies. Through talking to them about their own art, I also learned a lot about their feelings about each other -- they both expressed great admiration for the other and consider themselves friends -- as well as their feelings about each other's outlooks and art.