"The Next Step" (1998) was the start for one of the most consistant groups in hiphop, period. People under the stairs to this day have still not come out with an album that has disappointed or paled in comparison to other releases, everything they do is pure HipHop, straight "for the love", no bullish. And this is the foundation, the one that started it all, the one that they had to run around san fran just giving out free copies to promote themselves with...this is the underground. And just for that fact alone, I recomend this album. Now if you've never heard of PUTS, they are made up of Producer/MC Thes One & DJ/Producer/MC Double K both of whom compliment each other perfectly with their funky LA personalities and mutual relationship that just makes everything sound right. Now, it is often said that PUTS' work is never ever groundbreaking, or revolutionary, or "nothing different" so "why the hype?". Understand, the difference with PUTS is they pretty much symbolise the saying "dont F' with it, if it don't need fixin'", and when we talk about "it" we mean HipHop. PUTS have an old school approach to their music, with the help of some SP1200's and MPC's, both thes one and double K are the ultimate beat makers, finding some of the most un-used samples and flipping 'em to make every beat they do as tight as it can get! Admittedly, PUTS are not the most orginial lyricists ever, but it's their relatable honesty & chilled - out LA mentality that make them utterly captivating when they decide to start talking. Besides, not all "good lyricism" means strict multiple rhyming, creative metaphors & similies etc, as "lyrics" means the substance, and if the substance is far from brainwashing, generic crap then whats to say it isn't brilliant lyricism? It depends on the listeners ability to understand where the artist is coming from, and their aim.
The Next Step is made up of 15 tracks and 1 skits. Now, there is not one weak track on the album, with "San Francisco Knights" being one of the best tracks ever to come from the West, period. The beat is just ridiculous! which just sums up the brilliance of PUTS. "Los Angeles Daze" is equally as brilliant, with a sample that will send shivers down your spine, and just make you reach for that rewind button! Tracks like "Mid City Fiesta" bring that funky, positive vibe that is definitely feel-good music but is far from a cheesy attempt. "Time to rock our sh*t" brings that typical backpacking fire! with Thes one & double k displaying their lyricial ability, over once again, a flawless beat that makes you think "why have I not heard of these cats before?". Featurings on the album, are limited, just like the old school. With natives Smile-oak, Assualt, Naimad & Shine dropping by for the ride, contributing their bit. People under the stairs just sum up everything still good about Hiphop, bringing that natural love that all fans of boom bap, old school, early-mid 90's and all of that other "true" hiphop will undoubtedly appreciate. PUTS are still broke as ever, and as slept on as ever, & it is your duty as a self-proclaimed hiphop fan to now pick up this album and everthing else by PUTS and support the best group still going, recognise. PEACE!!!
Also Check out: "Question in the form of an answer" (2000), OST (2002), "Or stay tuned EP" (2003) and their best "Stepfather" (2006)!
Lyrics - 9/10
Beats - 10/10
Originality - 10/10
Replay Value - 10/10