Artist: People Under The Stairs
Label: Basement Records
I can’t remember who, but someone told me that you only have 1 chance to make a good impression. Well, I can’t describe my first impression like I can my final. Which is ‘Stepfather’ from People Under The Stairs, is a keeper. Which means, my first impression was opposite of that. I was nodding on the first four tracks It wasn’t until “Flex Off” is when Thes One and Double K got my undivided attention. A pair of Los Angeles lyricists who unanimously have the skills and knowledge and if they have those two things, then they have love for this music.
One of my gripes with this album is that it wasn’t consistent. There were songs that should’ve been left in the studio. Less is more, because19 tracks sounds more like a mixtape than an album, especially when there are too many styles. I felt like they tried to force feed me what they’ve created. But not all 19 tracks fit into this puzzle. The songs were great, but the styles here were different and just don’t belong in the same box.
Thes One wasn’t joking when he said that they study music theories and classic material. The evidence is on every track. They don’t sound like anyone in particular, yet they kind of remind you of someone. But you just can’t put your finger on it. That’s probably because they either sampled or used clips of oldies throughout their music. Either way, you can’t deny that these brothers know what the hell they’re doing.
I was sold with ‘Flex Off’, because this track shows off their creativity the best. “Flex Off” flows like liquid with 3 different rhythms in one song. Between the keyboards and the scratches during the hook, I couldn’t help but think this has a DJ Premier feel to it. Then as you get hypnotized by the lyrics, the beat shifts gear to a more of a freestyle aura and these MC’s didn’t miss the count. Their flows adapt to the tempo change and ‘wows’ you as the endless verses come at you like a 5 point palm exploding technique. Then to round it off, they throw on an old sample of soulphrodisiac, that leaves you with a good feeling.
I just can’t get enough of ‘Tuxedo Rap’, that track alone made me decide to go out and buy a more sophisticated pair of headphones, just so I am able to get a better feel of the beat. This was the same track that was featured on their MySpace page when I decided to do a searched for them and the same track that I am listening to now as I am writing this review. The tiny thing I wasn’t really feeling was the Michael Jackson infringement on the keyboards during the hook. It was too cheesy, but perhaps another attempt to pay tribute to the old skool… or could it be a weak attempt to flaunt their knowledge of the classics? Either way, they both could’ve excluded. “Days Like This” should be played on Hip-Hop Thanksgiving. A good vibe of just being grateful for life. They put their stories into perspective that we all could relate to at some degree on this song. Thes One pays a tribute to his pops for his hard work and giving his best at trying to provide. Double K preaches about having to go to school with his mother, so she can get her own education. Flashbacks of our most popular television shows left me with a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
My favorite track personally is ‘More Than You Know’, only because there is a fine line in the art of story telling. These brothers got it mastered on this song. I am a strong advocate from writing from the heart and this song displays that the best. I can just put this song on repeat and sit back and just rock with it. But as soon as you hit the next track, the vibe throws you for a loop. ‘Reflections’, which is the next immediate track after ‘More Than You Know’, has a West Indian feel to it. Reflections is powerful in itself, but it’s like trying to fit a square peg into the round hole. The flow just doesn’t blend well and that’s what disrupted my ride with this album.
This is an excellent album, minus the lack of slickness between tracks. They didn’t have to pack the suitcase so tight, to the point where you have to sit on it to close it shut. Just pack what’s necessary for the trip without stuffing it all in. That would’ve been my advice for this album, which has been released on May 9th.