People Under The Stairs
I feel the need to disclose the fact that I am an unabashed People Under The Stairs Fanatic. This is their seventh album and I can proudly say I own every single one. I got to the shows and if I'm in town when they are doing a show, I go. Some of my fondest memories of Hip-Hop shows come thanks to the 'P'. So I'm going to do my best not to gush too much about this album, but you know what? It's good (you knew I was going to say that, didn't you?). Maybe the P hasn't changed up their subject matter too much - it's still repping being unrecognized, hard work, hip-hop culture, smoking weed, drinking beer, going to barbecues, having fun and life in city of angels. But they're also dropping classic beats with samples from who knows where and putting an original and highly entertaining stamp on a set of topics that maybe some people have heard enough of? Well not me! And let me tell you why.
I'll tell you why in a manner that would make an English teacher cry: because it's dope! Thes One is one of the most underrated Hip-Hop producers currently making Hip-Hop records. Seriously, if y'all haven't heard of PUTS, Double K, or Thes One, this seventh entry in their discography is a great place to start. As a long time fan, I have to say that I really feel like they keep getting better.
The songs here are presented in a manner that makes you feel like you are at a Hip-Hop show where the sound system is two turntables and a mic. You can hear the record crackling away in a lot of the tracks and I really dug that. For Hip-Hop fans tired of hearing over-produced records, PUTS will cleanse your senses with a sound rooted in classic Hip-Hop (both 80's and 90's). It's just raw samples (seriously, Thes is a serious crate-digger...peep the ridiculous beats on "Listen", "Trippin' At The Disco", "Come On Let's Get High" for a few of the highlights) and cleverly presented lyrics about the life they live.
Lyrically Thes One and Double K are at their prime. Like I've said before (and I'll keep saying it) it's not their subject matter is so much compelling as it is their delivery and their constant flow of punchlines (Double K: I'm George Clinton on the frosted flakes, I feel great.). There's a sense here that they are working hard and having fun that's infectious (I mean, the CD insert is a little board game meant to be played along with a CD spin along with some dice and a bottle of Tequila). I also love the way that PUTS throws in so many references to classic Hip-Hop (peep the hilarious skit "Letter From The Old" school where there's a great Melly-Mel impression). Especially on "Check The Vibe" which is a song inspired by Tribe's "Check The Rhyme" where you get a completely brand new jazz-influenced beat that is "Check The Rhyme" filtered through PUTS. Plenty of notes and shades to the inspiration - but it's a totally original take on it. Put it this way it is more than a worthy homage.
Drinking and getting high are reoccurring themes for the P and I think that they've created a couple nominees here for partying songs of the year with "Beer" and "C'mon Let's Get High" where Thes introduces Double K as a weed smoking super hero then Double K calls out Snoop and B-Real for not smoking enough? Classic. Can we see a "I smoke more weed" rap battle?
It's not all fun and games though and they do express a certain amount of frustration at their lack of recognition for their hard work. Especially Thes's verse on the outstanding "Listen":
I've got genetic bad temper
My lifestyle, my point of view
I grew up listening to rap
Imagine a young me listening to Chuck D
You must be feeling lucky if you think you can fuck with we
And we not gonna take it
Twitter if you're a bitter biter little writer blog
I'm looking up your ISP on whoisme dog
Google coordinates and all of that
Everyone's a critic then you see the blue P hat
Rolling down the street bumpin beats smelling like beer
Catch em in the driveway headlights on the deer
I don't condone violence I just promote silence
You don't like it then erase it dude you probably didn't buy this
At the merch table talking about umm track 3
Go buy me a drink if you didn't buy the CD
And so I walk around with a stupid look on my face
I'm wondering why I got so many friends on my space
...well, at least we're not bitter and we bought the CD =P
There's a lot to love here for P fans new and old (Andy G.: There's a Kelly Kapowski reference here, just for you). If you are a fan of classic Hip-Hop aesthetics presented with an original sample-heavy mellow groove...man, seriously if you love Hip-Hop for real and you don't needs lots of guns blasting or women being mistreated tin your music and prefer rhymes about good times, having fun, and representing your city then the P are for you (and me).
(Go see a PUTS show if you get the opportunity. That's your homework.)
3.867 out of 5
|1. Step Off (03:14)||4|
|2. Much Too Much (03:40)||3|
|3. Hit the Top (03:50)||4|
|4. Listen (03:40)||5|
|5. Trippin' at the Disco (04:11)||5|
|6. 80 Blocks from Silverlake (04:02)||3|
|7. Beer (03:36)||5|
|8. Come on, Let's Get High (04:55)||5|
|9. Check the Vibe (03:30)||5|
|10. Letter from the Old School (02:16)|
|11. DQMOT (03:31)||3|
|12. Down in LA (04:02)||4|
|13. My Boy D (04:01)||2|
|14. Teeth (01:21)||2|
|15. Creepshow (04:02)||3|
|16. Chicken Kebap (01:43)|
|17. Carried Away (04:18)||5|