People Under the Stairs Hold Their Ground | Bleader

People Under the Stairs Hold Their Ground


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People Under the Stairs
  • People Under the Stairs
You have to admire LA hip-hop group People Under the Stairs for their perseverance. Active since 1997, the duo of Thes One and Double K came up at a time when underground hip-hop—which, once upon a time, was basically another way to "old-school"—had legs, and they've soldiered on even as their preferred sound has drifted to the extreme margins of the genre. As Double K Thes One raps on "Step Off," the lead track from their seventh and latest album, Carried Away (Om), "It's been ten years, our peers overrated / All faded, and they hated us most times / This is my last laugh, in the form of a dope rhyme."

The new record demonstrates that People Under the Stairs have no inclination to adapt to the times, but they don't always sound quite as confident of their direction as they do on "Step Off." Take these lyrics from "Listen," for instance: "I'm wondering why I got so many friends on MySpace / And still we underground, underpaid, and stayed down." Yet most of the time they keep the vibe light and silly, preferring humor rather than hubris. The music is stripped down, just funky breaks and terse samples—the classic setup of two turntables and, um, two microphones. People Under the Stairs headline Subterranean tonight.

Today's playlist:

Shelly Manne & His Men, The Gambit (Contemporary)
Clarence "Frogman" Henry, The Best of Clarence "Frogman" Henry: Ain't Got No Home (Chess)
Sex Mob, Sex Mob Meets Medeski: Live in Willisau 2006 (Thirsty Ear)
Paul Motian Band, Psalm (ECM)
Lucky Thompson, Lucky Thompson Meets Oscar Pettiford (Fresh Sound)