Double K Of Hip-Hop Group People Under The Stairs Has Died

Hip-Hop Heads woke up to tragic news on Sunday morning (January 31). Double K, born Michael Turner, of the Los Angeles, California Hip-Hop duo People Under The Stairs, has died. While no cause of death has been made public, it is believed that Turner was 43 years old. P.U.T.S has well-over 20 years of impact on the culture and music of Hip-Hop, especially within the Los Angeles, California community. Like EPMD before them, Double K and Thes One (aka Christopher Portugal) were two double-threats who formed a high school-era bond—one that led to cohesive in-house production and seamless interplay on the mic. Meeting at Pico Boulevard’s now-defunct Martin’s Records in the 1990s was an appropriate genesis for a duo that kept a dusty sound in their formula.

Throughout its 21-plus-year run, P.U.T.S. combined far-reaching samples, especially favoring ’60s and ’70s Jazz sounds and Psyche, with rhymes about everyday life and Hip-Hop bravado. Two of their most beloved songs are some of their earliest: “San Francisco Knights” and “Acid Raindrops”—cuts about relaxation and getting high, with stream of conscious rhymes over standout grooves. Underneath the simplicity were revelations from both men about the complexities of life and windows to their inner-most thoughts. After early self-pressed material, including debut album The Next Step, P.U.T.S landed on OM Records, a San Francisco home to Electronic artists including Groove Armada, Bassnectar, Dirty Vegas, and others. At OM, they would go on to release four albums, including 2000’s acclaimed Question In The Form Of An Answer.

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While people in the L.A. underground were courted by major labels, Thes and K remained low-key and true to their formula and their name.  “We knew from the first time we went to Europe that we’d eventually catch on here,” Double K told Jeff Weiss in a 2009 LA Weekly feature. “Urb put us in their Next 100 once, but that was it. It didn’t help our stature that we were selective in who we associated with. We didn’t just jump on every show bill; we wanted to keep our brand a mystery.” By the early 2000s, People Under The Stairs had opened tours for De La Soul and Dilated Peoples, in addition to spots on OM’s Deep Concentration international set.

Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, P.U.T.S. stayed busy and prolific. The duo amassed nine albums, four EPs, two compilations, and plenty of fan-inspired special releases. After OM, the pair teamed with Gold Dust and Tres for releases, before returning to their self-made roots as the Piecelock 70 imprint. A top-hat wearing Thes One notably challenged peer-turned-superstar in a beat-battle, documented in DJ Dusk’s Root Down Soundclash DVD. Mac Miller selected “San Francisco Knights” as an instrumental for his breakthrough mixtape work, before bringing P.U.T.S. on tour in the years that followed. In early 2019, People Under The Stairs released their final album, Sincerely, The P.

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Although well-connected and respected around the underground Hip-Hop scene, P.U.T.S largely worked in-house. Living Legends members Murs and Scarub were guests on American Men, Vol. 1, while P-Funk O.G. George Clinton made an appearance on 2006’s Stepfather album. A year after Sincerely, The P, Murs—who had been in the Los Cabin group with Double K in his teens, dedicated a song, “Flowers For People Under The Stairs,” in the name of support and admiration.

In recent years, Double K offered a comprehensive interview to friend/journalist/concert promoter Peter Agoston and his House List podcast:

Apart from the group, Double K appeared on albums by local peers Breakestra and Ugly Duckling, while producing early Murs song “Red Dots.”

Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to Thes One, Murs, Scarub, and the family, friends, and many fans of Double K and People Under The Stairs.

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Heads can catch recent AFH What’s The Headline interviews with Prince Paul & Don Newkirk, Statik Selektah, Lyric Jones, The LOX, MC Eiht, Mobb Deep’s Havoc, Duckwrth, and Lord Finesse. All episodes of the show are available wherever you stream your pods.

Here Is What Else Is Happening Of Note:

Pioneering Hip-Hop photographer, documentarian, and 9/11 hero Joe Conzo is facing eviction in the Bronx (New York Daily News)

Madlib and Fourtet have released the Sound Ancestors album.

Your Old Droog and Tha God Fahim have partnered for Tha Wolf On Wall Street album, featuring appearances by Mach-Hommy.

A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Adrian Younge and Jazz legend Gary Bartz link up for “Day By Day.”

How Four Tet Helped Madlib Make Something Totally New: A Solo Album  by Eric Ducker (New York Times)

#BonusBeat: Ambrosia For Heads’ official playlist, featuring new music from Pharoahe Monch, Statik Selektah, AZ, Tobe Nwigwe, Royce 5’9, Black Thought, Busta Rhymes, Ill Bill, Nana, Cordae, Lyric Jones, Nas, Oddisee, Boldy James, Benny The Butcher, 2 Chainz, REASON, Jack Harlow, MC Eiht, The LOX, and others.