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EP Review: People Under The Stairs — Stepfather

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Stepfather is due to be officially released on April 18 but I got a demo version of the EP last week and am still listening to it. I think that this collection of songs is the one that will propel Mike Turner (Double K) and Chris Portugal (Thes One) to better recognition on the world stage. From Los Angeles, the two got together in the late 90′s, formed People Under The Stairs and have been developing their unique sound and entertaining crowds all over the world since then. They have released several records together previously as well as each having solo projects.

Stepfather is the kind of fresh, innovative music that these guys are known for. Somehow they manage to draw together many varied elements of style and approach and end up with a finished product that never stops entertaining from start to finish. They utilize bits of audio taken from old TV shows to accentuate some of the songs and I think that is really cool and it just “fits” with the music on the EP. Their styles range from danceable Hip-Hop to twitching the turntable on some Old School rap flavored tunes (which is still a favorite of mine) and even includes some Reggae flavored bits. They manage to seem natural no matter in what style they present themselves and, in my opinion, they are one of the best representatives of the West Coast Hip-Hop/Rap sound today.

According to Thes One;

People are really going to be surprised by this album, We’re flipping the script on this one, coming with an extremely progressive approach. We study a lot of music theory and classic material, and this album reflects that. Even when we did the old school tracks on the album, we still tried to push the envelope with vocal settings and drum patterns.

The themes behind a couple of the songs are worth mentioning. “Eat Street” is sort of an ode to fast food around town and has that old school, “on the fly” rap sound that I always will like the best. To me, too much rap today sounds way too rehearsed, polished, and commercialized and that isn’t what rap started out to be. That isn’t to say I dislike “new” rap but this style of music emerged when I was young so I guess that is where and why I learned to appreciate it. It was music about simple things, real life, real people. Apparently these guys agree with me and as evidence I suggest you listen to their song “Letter To The Old School”. Another food song on the EP is “Jamboree pt.1″ which shows some real appreciation for the barbecue.

[ADBLOCKHERE]Other songs of interest are “Reflections”, which has sort of an morality message to it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with using your position as a performing artist to get that kind of thing going. They pull it off really well and it is entertaining as well as simple, real advice especially for kids who might get a little too wrapped up in the illusion that music often paints for them. Other personal favorites of mine are “Pass The 40″ which has a real sort of funkiness to it and features a Chi-Ali sample. “The Doctor and The Kidd” (which features George Clinton) is also a cool tune. Then again, “Pumpin’” is hot too, as is “Tuxedo Rap” (which is playing here) and…. OK I admit it, I like the entire album.

About Mike Johnston

  • Eric

    Did that EP have any linear notes that might help me identify the song playing in the backround at the beginning of Letter to the Old School?

  • http://www.myspace.com/enki09 enki

    Unfortunately my copy was a promotional disk in a plain jewel case and I didn’t have the normal liner or anything. I would suggest you ask People Under The Stairs via their myspace site:

  • The Truth

    An all around great album. Good review