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People Under The Stairs: O.S.T.


People Under The Stairs

Album: O.S.T.
Label: Om

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People Under The Stairs is part of a thriving movement that derives inspiration from the beats, rhymes, and lifestyles of Native Tongues stalwarts De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and Jungle Brothers, as well as golden-era hip-hop titans KRS-One, Rakim, and Public Enemy. Acolytes of hip-hop's storied past can be found everywhere, but the movement seems strongest on the West Coast, where Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, Ugly Duckling, Quasimoto, Lootpack, and People Under The Stairs make music rooted in a near-religious reverence for the sampling prowess of legendary loop-diggers. Like punk rock, rap music embraces the DIY idea that making music is the ultimate expression of a fan's devotion. Accordingly, PUTS approaches rap from a fan's perspective, paying homage to its heroes without losing its own identity in the process. Though gorgeously produced, the group's 2000 album Question In The Form Of An Answer occasionally felt a little strident and humorless. It was as if Thes One and Double K were so busy keeping it real and right that they neglected to have much fun. Thankfully, the unassuming duo has evolved considerably on O.S.T. As Thes One states in the liner notes, the album is as rooted in the bare-bones fundamentals of hip-hop as its predecessors, but it's also looser, richer, more fun, and more wonderfully alive than anything the group has released. Of course, any group that names itself after an instantly dated Wes Craven movie can't be accused of chasing trends, and O.S.T. revels in the earnest, unapologetic geekiness of, as Thes One puts it, "two B-boys who won't let go, who won't accept or conform to this new 'hip-hop.'" Coming from a lesser group, such words might seem like the cranky delusions of a backwards-looking act trying to hold on to the music of its youth. Here, they come across as a bold statement of purpose from a group that's found musical bliss mining its small but fruitful patch of the hip-hop universe.