People Under The Stairs Stepfather

[Basement; 2006]

Styles: old school, underground hip-hop
Others: Murs, Jurassic 5, Blackalicious, De La Soul, The Herbaliser, Jel

If you listen exclusively to über violent MTV pop-hop goons, you would think Los Angeles is one giant drive-by evisceration. Thank Jebus for People Under The Stairs. Mike Turner and Chris Portugal, more often referred to as Double K and Thes One, are part of a relatively small but prolific group of California minds set to the task of creating socially and culturally positive hip-hop. Of that group, PUTS gets my vote as movement leaders.

Stepfather is their fourth album since their 1998 debut, but chronology doesn't apply to them that much. Their sound has been and remains thoroughly enamored by the old school. Samples are harvested from dusty bins and sidewalk sales to compliment a Hammond mini, electric bass, and classic SP1200 beats. The effect is as timeless as hip-hop gets, turning anachronistic for the Beans-like electro space dub "Pass The 40." That's a one off, though, as the rest of Stepfather is based in the usual slow funk jam the likes of which George Clinton would buy a beer for, or at least contribute a spoken word scene assessment (which he does on "The Doctor And The Kid"). You've got to have something powerful going on to bring the master of funk into your apartment, and PUTS has had it for years. In fact, on a personal note, I almost cried the first time I listened to "Days Like These," an ode to the sacrifices K and Thes' parents made so they wouldn't have to grow up to be another waste-of-life, gangsta-izzle casualty. Forget that it's hip-hop for a sec, and you'll know this is the type of music that saves lives and makes good days great. Please don't let this be your last album, guys. We need you.

1. Intro
2. Step In
3. Pass The 40
4. Pumpin'
5. Flex Off
6. Tuxedo Rap
7. Days Like This
8. Jamboree Part 1
9. Jamboree Part 2
10. The Doctor And The Kidd feat. George Clinton
11. Eat Street
12. Crown Ones
13. LA9X
14. The Brownout
15. Letter To The Old School
16. More Than You Know
17. Reflections feat. Odell Johnson
18. 4 Dollar Afro
19. You
20. On & On feat. Kat Ouano