Making Something Out Of Anything: An Interview With Thes One Of People Under The Stairs

People Under the Stairs

Since its formation in 1997, the hip hop duo of Thes One and Double K, collectively known as People Under The Stairs (or PUTS for short) has put out eight critically acclaimed albums and toured an estimated 400 venues worldwide. Even more noteworthy, however, is the fact that they have achieved this success largely by themselves, taking on both the creative and business ends of their profession to ensure complete freedom in an industry not known for its cooperative attitude.

The last year has been particularly busy for the group: they released their eighth studio album, Highlighter, which critics and fans have deemed their most mature album to date, and opened for crowd-drawing acts such as Mac Miller and Girl Talk.   Other creative projects include the maturation of Piecelock 70, an artist collective formed by Thes One in 2004.

After a sleepless night in Seattle following a late performance and 4 a.m. flight back to his hometown of Los Angeles, I talked to a surprisingly congenial Thes One early Monday morning. One his way to pick up records with Double K and seemingly unfazed by the busy schedule ahead of them, it seemed like just another day in the life of one of hip hop’s most acclaimed and truly independent acts.

Check out the interview after the jump and pick up tickets to see People Under The Stairs live in Madison tonight (Tuesday, November 27) here.

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State of the Stage: Madison Hip Hop Poised To Break The Cycle Of Fan Violence


Emerging artist XV will perform at Madison's High Noon Saloon this Thursday, January 26. Recent violence at local hip hop shows has put the future of live shows in question.

In the last two months in Madison, we’ve had two incidents of gun play at music venues.  First, at a Majestic Christmas Eve hip-hop party hosted by the ever-positive local hip-hop artist, Rob Dz, a fight broke out and guns were pulled on staff and security personnel.  And, more recently, at High Noon Saloon, someone was pistol-whipped, and a shot was fired in the men’s bathroom.  On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, of all days.

Holy crap.

In the aftermath, those of us who love hip-hop and see it as a valid art form are faced with the challenge of where we go from here.

This Thursday, we have Warner Brothers recording artist XV appearing at High Noon Saloon.  In order to reassure the venue’s understandably rattled staff, we’ve made changes in the line-up and instituted radical security measures.  Everyone who comes in the door will be wanded with a metal detector and bags will be checked for weapons.  If you go out the door to smoke or socialize outside on High Noon’s patio, you will be checked again when you come back in.  Period.

I’ve written about this topic before. I’m no expert. I’m just one guy with an opinion. But it’s an informed opinion. True Endeavors has brought more hip-hop shows to Madison over the last two decades than any other promoter. A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Common, The Roots, Method Man, Ghostface, Eyedea & Abilities, Atmosphere, Brother Ali, P.O.S., Doomtree, Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Mac Miller, Wale, Immortal Technique, Heiroglyphics, Del The Funky Homosapien, Grieves, G-Side, Danny Brown, Das Racist, Macklemore, Blue Scholars, Living Legends, Afrika Bambaataa, Dead Prez, Sage Francis, Souls of Mischief, YelaWolf, Devin The Dude, Cunninlynguists, and so many more are among the acts we’ve been fortunate to promote.

On the other hand, I’m also white, which means I need to be circumspect before shooting off my mouth.

I agree with Cornell West when he says “race matters.” Newt Gingrich got a big applause line at a recent GOP debate when we attacked Obama as being a “food stamp president.” This is despicable race-baiting, plain and simple. Rick Santorum said something similar before the Iowa primary, playing on the old stereotypes and coded language that have long sullied our national politics.


I bring this up because we can’t discuss our current situation with hip-hop without acknowledging race.  We need to face the facts, but do so in a way that does not excuse criminal behavior.

Just Announced Madison Concerts: Atmosphere

Wednesday, September 8



Orpheum Theatre

Tickets on sale through our Music Calendar Saturday, July 24 at 12 noon.

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Just Announced Madison Concerts: Eyedea & Abilities (7.24.10)


Eyedea and Abilities

Saturday, July 24, 10pm

High Noon Saloon

$12 adv $14 dos, 18+

Tickets available on our Music Calendar soon!

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Set Times For Tonight’s Zion I Show (2.2.10)

Zion I

There’s a big hip hop show going on at The Majestic tonight.  (Ticket’s are still available here.) Here’s a rough schedule of events so that you can be sure to catch your favorite artists:

Doors open at 8:00pm

9:30 – 10pm A.N.T.

10:10 – 10:50pm  F.STOKES

11:00pm ZION I

Hope you can make it down to the show!