A couple of months ago, People Under the Stairs leaked music on the Internet. But instead of getting an advance copy of Stepfather, downloaders were subjected to an Andy Kaufman-style recital of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 18th-century poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Humor has always been the cornerstone of the back-and-forth delivery of Thes One and Double K, so, on the actual album, it's no surprise to hear the goofball "Eat Street," a tribute to the duo's favorite Los Angeles fast-food joints. But all joking aside, the bulk of Stepfather plays out like a soundtrack to a late-'70s block party as disco, funk and vintage drum machines set the score for the fourth album in the PUTS odyssey. (Appropriately, genre-agnostic George Clinton even makes a cameo.) "Flex Off" and "You" ooze with roller-disco fever, and "Tuxedo Rap" uses Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" as a springboard for old-school lines a la Sugar Hill. One and K's sound might be changing, but their reverence for hip-hop's past remains the same.
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