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Beats Per Millennium - People Under the Stairs: FUN DMC

People Under the Stairs: FUN DMC

I was introduced to PUTS back in high school with the album O.S.T., which had “Acid Raindrops” on it and was a total breakthrough for me in terms of hip hop. I would say that before Acid Raindrops I was schooled in the ways of “B 96” as they say here in Chicago (that is, top40 rap/pop/R&B, but back when Aaliyah was still alive). After Acid Raindrops I discovered that I knew very little about hip hop, and being in Chicago, I knew even less about the west coast.

Needless to say, in the right circles, PUTS is a legend. The beats are fresh, the melodies are fresher, and the LYRICS! OH, THE LYRICS! They put everyone to shame.

This new album, FUN DMC (which I am embarrassingly late in reviewing, since it came out on September 30), is basically no exception. It is a hot album.

I’ve heard reviewers and other people say over the years that PUTS sounds like The Pharcyde and other retro-style groups. Sometimes I don’t hear that, because to me it always sounds totally fresh and new. Still, the strong role of instrumentals and old school vocal samples do a lot to give PUTS’s albums an older, refined sound.

The first track on FUN DMC is this long, totally groovy, brass-section track with PUTS’s tell-tale Thes One and Double K vocals. Most of the tracks were produced by Thes One, though Double K produced a couple of them. They both appear on all the tracks from what I can hear. I guess Thes One is good, then, because the production on this album was nearly impeccable; the sample, the scratching, the melodies and instrumentals were seamless, and the vocals went hand-in-hand with everything.

The third track “Up Yo Spine” is a little play on Busta Rhymes’ “WhooHa” that is produced flawlessly. The chorus goes “Up yo spine/around yo neck/Whoo pa!/We got the house in check!” It’s catchy, it’s complex, it’s deferent to some great east coast hip hop.

It’s always good reviewing practice to show representative lyrics from the albums; this album is 20 tracks long and the content is diverse. From love, sex, underground sell-out pride, money, hustling, REAL HIP HOP, and chillin’. I’ve had an inordinately difficult time picking which lyrics will best show the mastery that Thes One and Double K have over this art. I’m going to pick track 18, though, which is called “Same Beat” to show Thes One’s usual style:

“Memoirs/the city of cars/and big stars/drinking pinot noir/the repertoir spans far…
It’s the People/For the people/All people/the same beat/Got ‘em checkin for the sequel!”

And Double K, inaugurating in “Enjoy”:

“I drink/I smoke/I act a damn fool/spike the punch/bring my own music/throw the homie in the pool…What you drinkin on playa?/Man, rum and coke/I told the chick what I was drinking/then I poured it down her throat/I’m on some Rick James shit tonniiiight!

The single that came of this album is track 13, “The Wiz,” which already has a video out too. I’d say that it’s very representative of this album and of PUTS’s style in general. It’s not very aggressive, it has a flow, it has complex lyrics, and it focuses on chillin, being from L.A., and in this case, going to Australia. If there was anything I could say that was negative about PUTS, it’s that sometimes the lack of heavy beats and the emphasis on instrumental melody and flow on the tracks can get a little muddled. I’m not entirely sure why they chose to make the Wiz into their single for that reason, and I hope “Same Beat” gets put out as a single, too.

Each track on the album, including The Wiz, sounds a little bit like something or someone else. This is because album covers Jamaican, east coast, west coast, old school, new school, and tons of other important musical movements and sounds in hip hop in the past twenty years. And that’s why people await People’s albums, and that’s why I think this album was successful.

Posted by Lally Gartel at Nov 20, 2008 11:37 PM