Artist: People Under The StairsTitle: StepfatherRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Conan Milne

Although other seminal West Coast Hip-Hop acts such as Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5 have gone on to achieve some sort of mainstream acknowledgement, this sort of commercial success has evaded the People Under The Stairs (PUTS) thus far in their career. Nonetheless, the duo of Thes One and Double K have released consistently strong LP’s at an impressive clip and their latest, Stepfather (Basement Records), is no exception.

Followers of the pair will know that PUTS have a unique ability of crafting modern music that shows a great influence from old-school jams. This is evident as early as the first track proper “Step In”, where the listener joins a Hip-Hop sermon in session. Over blaring, surprisingly fast paced organ jabs and crackling drums, rhyme slinger Double K quickly preaches wise words to weaker members of the parish when he confesses that, “Your rhymes worth a penny man, somebody said they was a quarter,” before going on to dismiss said people’s skills as “chump change”. K’s energetic raps, coupled with the sudden instrumental and the brash chorus of “You know who we are and you know we be,” makes for a perfect introduction to the album. The self explanatory (and sadly brief) “Letter to the Old School”, meanwhile, sounds like it was frozen in time many years ago, due to the vintage rhyme patterns and sparse drums.

Really though, PUTS are all about bringing back feel good Hip-Hop, and this is a clear strength of theirs. Although deeper issues are addressed on the likes of the emotional “Reflections”, refreshingly, Thes and K are happier to chill by the barbeque then wax lyrical about any potential drama that may affect them. On “Jamboree Pt. 1”, funky rhymes are exchanged over a wistful instrumental made for the summertime, while “Pass the 40” and “Eat Street”, unsurprisingly see the twosome enjoying fine drink and cuisine. The former is particularly notable for the fact that its vocals sound intentionally indistinct, again channeling an older era.

While Stepfather is unlikely to take these two talented music makers from under the stairs to overground stardom, fans and newcomers alike will appreciate this quality slice of Western Hip-Hop music, that combines their past jazzy sound with a fresher collection of instrumentation that includes live guitars and thumping bass. The old and new schools of rap meet, and together they sound pretty good.