Artist: People Under The Stairs
Label: Om Records
Rating: 9 / 10
As part of the Westcoast underground alongside groups such as Dilated Peoples and Ugly Duckling, People Under the Stairs have always been somewhat overlooked in favour of these other artists despite two very solid releases already under their belts. Solid however is the operative word here, since both previous albums have lacked that something extra; the standout tracks required to gain attention outside of the core hip-hop community such as Dilated €™s “The Platform” or Jurassic 5 €™s ‘Concrete Schoolyard’, both of which are adored as much by trendy indie kids as the hip-hop community. But with this third full length album, things are gonna change because “O.S.T” is not just P.U.T.S €™ best album yet, but is also one of this year very best releases, providing a considerably more enjoyable 76 minutes than Eminem could even imagine.
I remember reading an irate letter in Hip-Hop Connection several months ago from a reader who was astonished that a certain reviewer in the magazine had said that funk no longer has a place within hip-hop; the reviewer clearly has not heard “O.S.T” because if it was to be summed up in one word it would be “funky”, from start to finish. As such, the track ‘The Dig’ may well be P.U.T.S €™ manifesto, a beautiful ode to crate digging expressing the group €™s love for music, pure and simple (“The only way my life makes sense / Even if I €™m two weeks late paying my rent.”) Its this love that shines through across the whole album, epitomised in the autobiographical ‘Keepin €™ It Live’, among the album €™s many highlights, including the eternal mantra which I think we can all relate to: “B-Boy for life, so fuck a suit and a tie.”
Other particular stand-outs include the lead single ‘Jappy Jap’, the sublime title track, the laid-back ‘Acid Raindrops’ and ‘LA Song’, which captures the image of summer in Los Angeles as vividly as Dr. Dre did with “The Chronic” album 10 years ago. However what lifts “O.S.T” and the “musical dope” which it brings above the vast amount of other underground albums released every week is the fact that first and foremost, it is a coherent album, capturing a “feel” across the whole running time, something which I felt was missing from “Expansion Team”, for example. Given the somewhat sketchy history of hip-hop movie soundtracks over the years, this is certainly one “O.S.T” which any fan cannot afford to overlook, as P.U.T.S say themselves, it truly is a musical trip.