Old release schools hip hop fans of a new era

t’s hard to find an artist in this day and age that lives by the rules and traditions of the golden era of hip-hop. I’m talking about the fundamental arts of the 80’s and 90’s—the scratching, sampling and mixing of original tracks laced with contemporary, one-of-a-kind lyrics.

In the era of mp3, auto-tune and synth machines have replaced turntables and traditional mixing styles.

But long ago in hip-hop’s aforementioned golden era, music was defined by its diversity, by its powerful lyrics and energetic beats.

It was hip-hop you understood and felt, epitomized by the work of artists like DJ Jazzy Jeff, N.W.A. and Naughty by Nature and portrayed on the big screen in iconic movies like “Boyz n the Hood” and “Menace II Society.”

Nowadays you’d be hard-pressed to find any meaning or truth in the lyrics of a hip-hop album.

Lyrics are dominated by fabricated stories of drugs, violence and “struggle.” Take Willam Roberts, better known as rapper Rick Ross, who routinely raps about his involvement in international drug dealing and extortion for example.

Rick Ross, before his rap career, was a Florida State Department of Corrections Officer. Let me put that another way: The rapper of “Teflon Don” wasn’t slingin’ dope. Call him “Officer Ross.”

Artists are defined no longer by what it is they came from but what the public wants to see and hear. While society at large is basking in fake rappers like Rick Ross and YouTube stars like Justin Bieber, I’m keeping my ears tuned to artists who are dedicated to staying real.

While modern day artists continue to crush the rules and traditions of hip-hop’s golden age, artists like People Under the Stairs remain true. With an eclectic style of their own, underground hip-hop heroes Thes One and Double K pay homage to what the genre once stood for.

Since 1997 the Los Angeles duo has released seven LP’s, five EP’s and a score of singles, culminating with their latest release, “Fun DMC.”

This is exactly what Thes and Double K do on Fun DMC, their sixth release. Recorded on a Saturday at a P.U.T.S barbeque, the feel good lightheartedness of a sunny LA get together sends the listener on a ride through a day in the life of Thes and Double K.

Never pretending to be something they’re not, Thes and Double K rhyme about sifting through piles of records, growing up in LA, and the simple joys of being a father.

They’re independence has remained unscathed by modern hip-hop flair. True to their roots, Thes and Double K scour their urban landscape for forgotten vinyl.

Disregarded, yet familiar, samples are all over their records; the Jeopardy theme song appears in “Beer,” childhood icon Mr. Rogers kicks off one of my favorites, “Acid Raindrops” and “Gamin’ on Ya” salutes famous childhood NES games like Galaga and Mario Bros.

Another favorite, “San Francisco Knights” hangs heavy, making you feel like you’re standing outside of a rundown Smokey Bay Area speakeasy just before closing time, listening to the jazzy brass band playing just through the doors.

The cool electric guitar chords, drum patterns and antique chorus vocals gives the song a euphoric aura, which sends the listener to another time.

Their dedication to the old-fashioned trade of hip hop sincerity adds a human element to their tracks rare in many mainstream contemporary artists.

Though their smooth lyrics conjure images of passing city scenes, People Under the Stairs never lets the listeners forget where they were when they discovered songs like “Los Angeles Daze.”

For me it was the summer of 2003, and they’ve been one of my favorites ever since.

I recommend putting your headphones on and pay attention to what they have to say and what their style says. P.UT.S. will without a doubt be looked upon with favor when the future looks to judge how far hip-hop has come.