1998 PUTS Records
1. Intro / 4 Everybody - 4
2. Death of a Salesman - 3
3. Hardcore (Featuring Smile-Oak) - 3.5
4. Wannabes - 4
5. Ten Tough Guys - 3
6. Mid-City Fiesta - 4
7. Slow Bullet (Interlude)
8. San Francisco Knights - 4.5
9. Turndown (Featuring Assault) - 4.5
10. Time to Rock Our Shit - 4
11. Tamburo 5 (Featuring Naimad/Assault/Shine 5) - 3
(There's a good portion of bad rapping on this track)
12. Los Angeles Daze - 3.5
13. Next Step II - 4.5
(This was the first PUTS song I ever heard, if I remember correctly, and I still like it just as much as when I first heard it)
14. D.A.R.E. - 2
(This song's extremely out of place, featuring clicks, beeps, and an awkward, stuttering drum break)
15. Asshole (Featuring Assault) - 3.5
16. Play It Again/Outro
Overall: 3.75 / 5
People Under The Stairs' debut album set their style in stone. They would go on to reproduce it, continually more polished than before. The approach is simple: jazzy, organic beats supported by down-to-earth lyrics. "The Next Step" achieves the mission nicely.
Thes-One handles the production and shares the mic with Double K. The production is the album's strong-point, as Thes has an obvious knack for beatmaking. He clearly dislikes drum sequencing and prefers a hard hitting drum break, which should be appreciated by anyone. The drum loops are backed by melodic jazz ensembles, echoing guitars, precise basslines, and the underrated, forgotten vinyl static. Many of the beats sound very complete and professional, but Thes has an occasional misstep. Some beats sounds empty and unvarying, like Thes hunted down a nice drum break and didn't put the same attention to the rest of the track. In this case, it's not particularly bad, as there's still a firm body, but some just aren't up to par with the rest of the album. Despite the complaints, the production is very well done, at times amazing.
The duty of MCing is shared by both Thes-One and Double K. If there's any detrimental fault on the album, it's the rapping. Neither are poor rappers, but they did lack some skills at the time. The subject matter isn't too varied and tends to focus on either: how hiphop PUTS are, how hiphop you aren't
, how hard they rock it, how hard you don't
rock it, or a painfully uninteresting narrative. I don't mind the subjects, as they're inevitable in hiphop, but 70 minutes of the same message is frustratingly tiresome. Aside from a stagnant, hiphop-based topics, both MCs run into some technical problems. Thes and Double K struggle with presence and energy. It's not particularly distracting, but listening to the same flows again and again becomes boring. They both are very tolerable, though.
The album serves its purpose nicely. Hiphop rhymes over hiphop beats. The music is more impressive than the words, but PUTS have a nice overall sound. Expect laid back, summery beats with some forgettable, although very suitable lyrics.