Double K, one half of the LA rap duo People Under the Stairs, passed away yesterday at his home.
The 43-year-old emcee was known for his slick-tongued bars and old school resolve. People Under the Stairs fought to maintain a cult underground following and purposefully avoided fame or mainstream recognition. “We used to fit into the Hip-Hop category as the left of center,” said PUTS producer, Thes One, in the group’s exit interview back in 2019. “But now we’re so far left we’re like an Americana group at this point. Which is fine with me.”
For those unaware of PUTS’s immaculate talent with the mic, or for those mourning the loss of Double K, here are the duo’s 6 best records.
Arguably the most innocuous project from PUTS, Carried Away is an ode to the joy that comes from having a good time. The duo’s seventh record caters mostly to the sounds of Hip-Hop’s golden era, but Carried Away also lets in funkadelic influences from the ’80s. The project’s first single, “Trippin at the Disco !!!” is steeped in hypnotic disco rhythms all the way down to its kaleidoscopic music video, as Double K and Thes One sputter quippy bars focused on the joy of letting loose on the dance floor.
Elsewhere on the record, offerings like “Beer” find the boys engaged in drunken turpitude on a “Friday night” when, simply enough, “everybody was drinkin.'” Over a decade later, the album has strictly good vibes and still reverberates for those in need of a buoyant pick me up.
Thes One plainly wrote in O.S.T.‘s album notes that the project was “just good old Hip-Hop.” It’s hard to argue with that sentiment, as the album fights to preserve the underground Hip-Hop traditions of yore at every waking turn.
The album does feature the duo’s biggest track, “Acid Raindrops,” but while good vibes remain, smooth tracks like “Jappy Jap” loosely camouflage the duo’s heightened concern with the state of Hip-Hop. Many tracks on O.S.T. outright antagonize bandwagon rappers, with songs like “The Outrage” merely existing so PUTS can eviscerate those trying to commandeer the genre.
“Delicate my debates with celibate beat tapes, they don’t touch, I crush the crutch of personas, same players in the game claiming that their owners.” PUTS has always been vocal about the importance of preserving the old school ways, and O.S.T. transforms that belief into a full-blown proclamation.
Stepfather could exist in today’s rap landscape, but it also could have existed back in the ’90s. It’s one of the group’s strictest old school records. Lyrically, it’s not quite as compelling as some of the group’s other works; but regardless, the vibes are strong. “Flex Off” is perfect for a summertime cruise down Sunset Blvd, and “Tuxedo Rap” focuses solely on sophisticated flexes (“Graceful poise while toys, no soul, gold-fishing like kois”). Stepfather is a compelling, nostalgic ode to ’90s Hip-Hop, with enough twists to keep it from getting creatively stale or stringent.
Or Stay Tuned… – 2003
The final album under OM Records and follow up to O.S.T., Or Stay Tuned… embraces the lo-fi cruise control of “Acid Raindrops” and rarely elevates above it. “Drumbox” is a funky outlier that bounces with lighthearted ease, but the rest of the album swaggers along at around the same pace. It’s got playful lethargy, perfect for hanging out with friends.
Highlighter – 2012
People Under The Stairs “Highlighter”
The eighth record by PUTS, Highlighter was the first album to ever be created in a 24-bit-HD-AAC format. “In layman’s terms, that means it sounds fractionally better than most albums while munching up a whole lot of hard drive space,” wrote Consequence of Sound. Regardless, the album sounds excellent and is just as sample-heavy and sonically toasty as its predecessors.
Sincerely, P – 2019
On one hand, Sincerely, The P is a heartwarming farewell record. As the group’s final album, it finds the LA duo riding off into the sunset in an epic fashion, honing in on their strengths and saying a graceful “adieu.”
Closer “The Sound of a Memory” is a particular tear-jerker, with the duo reflecting fondly back on a two-decade-long run that remained authentic and entirely funded by the underground. “They say the cousin of death is sleep, that’s why me and the homie keep the beats in the street,” Double K pronounces. “Dreams not memes, y’all, keep followin.”
But on the other hand, Sincerely, The P once again expressed the duo’s continuous contempt for Hip-Hop representation in mainstream culture. They talk about grinding out records while “Drake manscapes” and “the opposite sound dominate the soundscape,” but they never loiter too long in their resentment.
Double K often turns the other cheek in favor of blissful nostalgia. “Trust me, this is what I want,” K reassures us as he reflects on the joys and hardships of touring on “We Get Around.” All in all, the duo was happy enough just being able to make music for a living.