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"I have to cancel the tour. Sorry. I need a new kidney," says Stefon "P.O.S." Alexander in a video posted just days before the release of his anticipated fourth solo album, We Don't Even Live Here. He's referring to a two-and-a-half-week trek that was fixing to be the first proper live introduction to a nuanced, danceable rap album that redefines the Doomtree MC's already eclectic pursuits as an artist.
On September 20, Alexander performed a half-hour set as part of the McNally Smith College of Music's Sound Bite series, and ended up in the emergency room the next day. Coming from a guy who did more than 200 shows behind his last record, Never Better, and always gives his sweaty, powerful all onstage, the risks of doing dialysis while on the road at this time proved too high for his doctors to approve. (Note: His First Avenue release show on Friday is still on.)
"Both of my kidneys are garbage," Stef explains. "They've been going bad since I was a teenager. Really inopportune timing, but now's the time." He reveals that he has been on dialysis for the past month. "Everyone keeps telling me, including all of my doctors, that I have to take care of my health first."
P.O.S. plays an album release show for We Don't Even Live Here at First Avenue; 612.332.1775
Not long before this announcement, Alexander sat down with City Pages to discuss the impending tour, and his excitement for his new material — a combination of glitchy electronic textures and surging denouncements of the complacent American lifestyle — is unquestionable. Calling We Don't Even Live Here his "anarchist dance party," P.O.S. posits this release as the culmination all of the work he's done on previous albums with the addition of some of the most challenging beats for his husky voice to get after. From the crowbar-bashing stomp of "Bumper" to the Justin Vernon-assisted "Where We Land" to the infectious drive of "Get Down," it's a stacked deck of bangers.
"I feel like all of my best songs, and my best minutes of my records, are big," he expressed. "I like the idea of going to concerts and watching from backstage, and watching the crowd singing along with the artist as almost more fun than watching the artist, and I feel like I write songs from that perspective."
His optimism about heading out on the road with Doomtree cohort Mike Mictlan swelled in his voice, but in hindsight Stef might have been already hinting at the challenges he could face with the state of his kidneys. "I gotta pace myself because I plan to tour this record pretty hard," he said later on.
In the short term, he's feeling defeated about the postponement of the dates, but there's also the excitement for getting a kidney that will work better than his own ever did. And so there's a call to find an organ that fits the bill, or some support to help defray Alexander's medical costs.
Our thoughts definitely go out to P.O.S. at this time, and hopefully the tight-knit music community here in the Twin Cities will be a good support system for him while he goes through this process. And who knows, perhaps someone out there might even have a kidney match that will help him get back on his feet and rocking clubs again very soon.
As is reassuringly stated at the end of the video, "Our dude is gonna get a kidney, and get better. We'll let you know how you can help soon." All we can do is believe that message, show love at his First Ave show next Friday, and continue to send him our warmest thoughts to get better soon. Rhymesayers Entertainment has helped spread the word about a Paypal account set up at bit.ly/stefneedsanewkidney.
Alexander insists that he will make up these canceled shows eventually, once he gets his health concerns sorted: "I try to get everywhere, I try to have the best time ever. That'll happen."