People Under the Stairs

Don't fall for the myth that rap is made by scowling artists for scowling people who love to sit back, listen to a CD and, well, scowl. Oh yes, rap can make you giddy. An impeccably rambunctious rap track should bring sheer joy and exhilaration, a rush of excitement that pierces deep in your bones.

But too often today's rap incites only cheap thrills. It's forgettable, empty junk barely fit to smoke weed to. Luckily, there are exceptions. While commercial rap is giving audiences the fleeting buzz you'd get from a popcorn movie (or porn), people who are tuned into independent, underground hip-hop have lately been unearthing oodles of pleasure. In fact, 2002 has been the giddiest year in recent memory, with many a fantastic release (J-Live's All of the Above, Jean Grae's Attack of the Attacking Things, DJ Jazzy Jeff's The Magnificent and Mr. Lif's I, Phantom -- just to name a few) restoring the electric charge that many thought was long gone.

And O.S.T., the third album from the L.A.-based duo People Under the Stairs, has provided the giddiest energy of the year. Created by "b-boys" Tres One and Double K, O.S.T. is a hip-hop album for those who seriously need to hear hip-hop right about now. No Neptunes beats, no R&B hook from Ashanti, no slew of anonymous muthafuckas ganging up on the mike on a single song. It's just two men trading rhymes, riffs and barbs amid the most infectious, jazziest, funkiest beats this side of a Prince Paul album.

It's a beauty to behold. Leave it to two cats from the Golden State to make a great hip-hop album that could turn even the hardest brotha into a giggling schoolgirl.

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Craig D. Lindsey
Contact: Craig D. Lindsey