Nov 26, 2008 - 1:20 AM
Recently, rap mogul P.Diddy announced that he’s releasing an electro-pop-soul album. Haters and fans probably wondered how much he was inspired by Kanye’s 808s and Heartbreaks. And while underground hip-hip heads may not exactly be checking for Diddy’s latest venture, the move has got to make you wonder: does anyone just do straight up hip-hop anymore? And does such a thing even exist?
The answer is mixed. On Fun DMC, the sixth studio album from underground heavyweights People Under the Stairs, emcees/producers Double K and Thes One take their dub-influenced production and tight vocals to the level of unfuckwidable by sticking to exactly what they know best. And they do it by talking about the trials and tribulations of two ordinary hip-hop heads from LA.
The album is packed with their classic California house party sound, but also segways into moments of deep introspection, where the rappers explore fleeting memories and death. Along the way, they offer up their ‘fuck you’ to whack gangsta rappers. “Fuck drug dealers, I got addicts in my family” says Thes on “Critical Condition.”
The LA-based b-boys dug deep to showcase their fun-loving feel. On their website, they say they wanted to “get the ambiance of the dudes playing dominoes, the meat sizzling on the grill, the planes flying by…” Accordingly, most of the album was recorded live at summer picnics and BBQs, with short interludes of old-timers talking about high school sweethearts and ping-pong.
It’s cheesy as hell to say that they’ve ‘come full circle,’ but they’ve definitely proved once again why they’re a force to be reckoned with. The album’s content is basically a list of certified bangers, spanning everything from the party life (“The Fun”) to Sly & Robbie inspired community anthems (“People’s Riddim”). And of course, there’s the obligatory Cali anthem, “California,” which seamlessly riffs off Dre and Pac’s “California Love.”
In a musical age of vocoders and everyone searching for the next best trend, it’s refreshing to hear a group stick to a formula that works.
Jamilah King likes to call herself a writer as long as it pays the bills. She's currently an editor for WireTap Magazine, and her writing has also appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, TheNation.com and on her bootleg blog, Grits & Eggs.