When Los Angeles-based rappers Double K (born Michael Turner) and Thes One (born Christopher Portugal) first crossed paths while shopping at Martin’s Records on Pico Blvd in 1996, they had no idea the fated meeting would result in a partnership now closing in on two decades. Landing on the moniker, People Under the Stairs—a name they felt best represented their humble outlook—the duo began creating music driven by art and not by money or fame. While Thes One was a student at the University of Southern California, he tapped into his student loan money in order to fund the group’s first 12″ single, “The Next Step II.” Soon thereafter, The P (as they later became known) recorded their debut album, The Next Step, releasing the self-funded project through Om Records in 1998. Despite having difficulty getting their record played on the radio, the project laid a foundation for 2000’s Question in the Form of an Answer, a release that led the group to tour with De La Soul. After releasing 2002’s O.S.T., the group took a four-year hiatus to focus on separate side projects.
Their 2006 return was met with great enthusiasm, with the release of Stepfather marking a turning point in their careers, as the group consciously changed up their sound. In an experimental effort and precautionary measure to protect the album from being leaked early, the group released a “fake” version of the album online. The real Stepfather included a lone feature from Double K’s idol, George Clinton, and was met with positive reviews, debuting at No. 32 on the Billboard Heatseeker Chart. After touring with then-unknown rock-rap group Gym Class Heroes as their opening act, People Under the Stairs returned to the studio. Thes One released his debut solo album Lifestyle Marketing in 2007 and the group readied their first compilation record, 2008’s The Om Years. PUTS has since gone on to tour the world, as well as release four more studio albums, with each project helping to expand their audience to younger ears and further secure their legacy.