1 January, 2002@12:00 am
Dedicated crate diggers People Under The Stairs are the exact opposite of the conventional sampling method, going to extreme lengths to unearth rare records to make the tightest beats possible. In contrast, mainstream artists with enough cash to get the rights to the music they to want sample just for the recognition, not for love of the music itself. For instance, Nelly used a sample of the Jefferson’s theme in “Batter Up” because it was already in the public consciousness, and playing something people know is much easier than making a hit out of something new. No one has done more to clear the tarnished name of sample-based music than the People Under The Stairs. Their new album, OST, is more of this satisfying style, containing some simply wonderful tracks from the freshest old school album since Jurassic 5′s Quality Control.
While many question sampling, especially loop-based sampling, as a legitimate art form, PUTS manages to sample with true artistry. They use records like painters use colors, strategically blending and dabbing sounds in certain places instead of just playing part of a record over and over. They’ve taken the original Hip-Hop style of using drum breaks and elevated it to a new level, the result of which is a warmly melodic soundscape. Although they’re dubbed “old school,” PUTS, isn’t some sort of retro novelty; they fit in today’s Hip-Hop environment as a refreshing antithesis to everything wrong with Hip-Hop and an embodiment of everything right that was and could be. Nowhere is the advantages of their old-school charm more evident than on “Hang Loose”, complete with references to Dr. J and “party people.”
The title OST (Original Sound Track) conveys perfectly what PUTS’ music is. There’s no movie to see, it’s just a soundtrack to the lives of Thes One and Double K. These two MCs/Producers/B-Boys are true fans of Hip-Hop before they’re artists, and the music they make is what they would like to hear. There’s no subliminal, emotional, or commercial message, they just rap about their everyday life of blunts, drinking and records, not exaggerating or dumbing it down at all. The two-part “The Suite For Beaver Part 1″ talks first about an unlucky day and the therapy music can provide, which satisfies that same purpose for the listener. As much of a dramatic effect that telling vivid stories of violence has, you truly have to respect an artist who says “when I die don’t cry / just put my records in a coffin / and bury next to a very big tree with my MPC” (“The Dig”).
Overall, the album is quite simply the best chill-out record that’s come out recently. The bass is hypnotic throughout, the drums are deliciously smooth, and there isn’t any one track of less quality than the others. The more up-tempo songs like “Outrage, The” and “O.S.T. (Original Soundtrack)” blend very well with the serenity of “Empty Bottles Of Water” and “Acid Raindrops”. It’s something you could just put on and relax to all the way through. The rhymes aren’t all that incredible, but they are far from weak, just less effective than the other elements that are going on. As much ground as they’re breaking with their beats, they just don’t have lyricism on the same plane. However, the thing that makes PUTS unique is that they control their own music at every level, understanding that too many guest artists or influences might ruin the continuity of a very solid, high quality LP.
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