The coolest, the smoothest, the rapper with the most effortless vibe left us a few days ago. Double K from People Under The Stairs (PUTS).
Probably my most rapped-along-with MC of all time. I legit wanted to be this man in so many ways. He could rap like an old school vet and step back to crush the turntables, all while having the most fun. He’s a hero. He took me back to wanting to be MJ as a kid playing basketball — but did it as an adult.
Taught me to speak in techniques and never critique
A DJ with no rhythm just pull the plug and be out
Get some records from that fool that’s what I’m talking about
He taught us endlessly about having fun, rapping and DJing with love, and not worrying about labels, identities, or beef. He and Thes One showed us what a brotherhood in a rap group looks like — pretty uncommon as time goes in hip-hop. They were the soundtrack for an unforgettable era of our crew. When fun completely ruled.
Now Double K is teaching us about living, from how he stayed in the moment to his leaving us to rep for him to the future.
Party people live long because it’s just begun
Gather in the space place just to have some fun
I first heard these lines on a forklift in SE MPLS. I worked in a warehouse full of pool chemicals we shipped to Walmarts around the country. My boss rigged a small portable radio to turn on automatically when you drove the forklift and I had the dial on 770am Radio K.
I remember so clearly near the end of a shift on a Friday afternoon, jamming Hang Loose while loading up the last trucks of the day. The song made the whole situation feel ok (pretty big props when you’re talking about breathing in chemicals for Walmart!)
Hang Loose became one of my favs for the next many years and still is. It spoke to, and speaks to, the person inside me that just wants to have a blast. It’s not a typical rap beat and both Double K and Thes One go in unapologetically like old school rap heroes. Plays well to somebody who grew up staying up late to watch YO!
In an era where a lot of underground rap sounded dark, PUTS came with the brightness of FUN. Thinking of other well-known underground rap in the late 90’s-early 2000s like Atmosphere in MPLS, Project Blowed in LA, and Def Jux, and more Premiere-esc stuff on the East Coast. The difference is stark. Not to take anything away from all these artists— more a shout-out to the P for owning their style fully.
PUTS also speak on racism, poverty, addiction, drug dealing, street life— but with a poignant discretion. When they do, you hear it. And one of my favorite things about hip-hop is it’s ALL political. You don’t need to be overt to express these vibes. Hip-Hop IS resistance at its core. From Biz Markie to Immortal Technique. Whether you’re rapping about hanging with crew or impeaching the prez. It’s valid and necessary.
I’m never hamster using
I’m crossfader cruising
Slip mats and hard liquors be the tools that I’m using
As a DJ, Double K taught me to just go without ego or identity. I still love the Invisibl Skratch Piklz and the whole turntablist movement — such amazing weirdos! What Double K did was make it OK to walk up to the tables and just start cutting.
He helped me get away from perfection and needing to master a certain scratch, and I remember a couple of times weirding out other DJs with this motivation to rock. Without it, I would have been afraid to cut given my crab wasn’t perfect on the 4 yet and I never learned to rock hamster. I always imagined Double K would shrug that off, put a record on, and cut.
All good things must come to an end.
My wife Abigail said something like when a hero like Double K leaves us, it makes them human.
He was always so larger than life to me, even when seeing him at a show or in-store. He still is and forever will be. But he’s also human. He’s a symbol of what humans are capable of. He taught us that life is short and to enjoy the f out of it.
Double K left us at 43. What are we doing y’all??
Are we living and loving every minute or at least putting the intention there and enjoying what we get? I’m making this another reason to rep for myself and the crew like it’s the only choice I’ve got.
Peace to the real crews defacing walls on backstreets
In the city of set, porch, halls, and swap meets
So much love to Thes One, all of Double K’s fam, and all the super fans like me. Let’s go right the f ahead and rep his vibe moving forward. Always and still. For the fun and for the real. Rest in hype Double K <3 LA
PS: Highly recommend reading Thes One’s recent Instagram posts for some deep insights into Double K including some mind blowers for me like how much he loved nature, water, and sunsets. <3