- "Yo, I'm on top of the stairs now"
Using mixers, mics, drum machines and a little B-boy magic, People Under the Stairs’ Thes One and Double K summon the sounds of hip-hop’s golden age: Rakim, the Fat Boys, Poor Righteous Teachers, A Tribe Called Quest. “Basically, we try to make history every night onstage,” says Thes One. “For all the people who didn’t get to witness one of the classic groups, maybe we’re doing something along the lines of that, so people can see what we saw when we were growing up. It’s me and Double K on the stage with drum machines and turntables, and it’s a wild party.” PUTS are still promoting 2009’s Carried Away, their best album since, well, 2008’s Fun DMC. It’s their seventh LP since 1991, and the guys are still rapping about smoking pot, relaxing at afternoon barbeques, perfecting their pass-the-mic rhymes, making hilarious skits and segues, giving props to Dee Snider, El DeBarge and Snake Plissken along the way. It’s all backed by jazzy, breakbeat soul production (a mix of Pete Rock, Eric B. and the Bomb Squad), created in Thes One’s home studio on reel-to-reel, sampling obscure out-of-print records, using equipment they half-buy, half-create. The chemistry is insanely polished, especially compared to Fun DMC’s lo-fi South Central street-recording vibe. According to Thes One, Carried Away is pretty much their coming-out party. “We were coming off some really big festivals last year and some really different types of tours,” he says. “We went to China. We did Coachella and Bonnaroo. We had this feeling we wanted to capture. But if we did this really big production record, we didn’t want it to take a year or two to make. So we went into the studio and gave ourselves a deadline: We have a month and half to capture this feeling. And whatever comes out, comes out.” What came out were these underground West Coast cravens, carrying the torch for classic hip-hop’s new native tongues generation. They play the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs) at 9 p.m., with Big Pooh and Smokescreen opening. Tickets: $12 advance, $14 day of show. —Keith Gribbins