People Under The Stairs – Question In The Form Of An Answer

Album Review by Mark Bayross

You can’t get much more Old Skool that the music produced by People Under The Stairs. The LA-based duo of Thes One and Double K have defiantly refused to play the mass market game of commercialism that has engulfed hip-hop and made it such a world wide chart phenomenon. They refuse to play keyboards, instead constructing the beats and sounds of their music from the vinyl they find in LA’s countless record shops. It’s like Puff Daddy never existed.

The resulting sonic collage is more of an urban documentary, especially as the lyrical preoccupations of the duo centre around everyday vignettes of city life, viewed very much at street-level. Adding to their cred is their hardcore DIY approach: the whole shebang was recorded on an eight track in Thes’ bedroom and the two of them produced every thing from the scratching to the artwork themselves.

QUESTION IN THE FORM OF AN ANSWER is the second album from People Under The Stairs – the first, 1998’s THE NEXT STEP, caught the attention of San Francisco-based Om Records, who helped bring this one to the world.

While the DIY ethic is admirable, there’s a distinct lack of variety in the beats and the vocal delivery, except for the odd track (the melodic STAY HOME) – and for 22 songs that just gets too tiresome. The vibe is jazzy and the rhymes occasionally inspired, but they can still resort to modern rap clichés when they want (guns, gangstas, etc) and my swear-o-meter went into the red on a number of occasions.

I really wanted to give this a better score, but I’m afraid there’s just not enough here to hold my interest.

3 stars

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