crew and her hometown of
Chicago. To further the latter she brought out fellow Chicago native LongShot to rap with her,
although her charisma and energy was such that she needed no help whatsoever. She clued us in to her
real name right away by performing a song with the hook "meet Christalle, she's a star" and the
audience had no argument with it when she was done. Her set consisted largely of material from her
unreleased "The Death of Frequent Flyer" CD due out July 18th, but despite not knowing the set the
Sokol crowd was rocked solely of the strength of her charisma. She's as bad-ass as Da Brat but twice
as lyrically gifted; in fact she showed her disdain for fellow female MC's with a song entitled
"Rapper Girls (Cut That Shit Out)" signaling with her hands that she'd take out the comp as easily
as scissors cut paper. Her Rhymesayers bio swears that "she never stands still" and she in fact did
a song to that effect, in which she bragged she rocks "a very heavy flow with a small Tampax" that
had the whole crowd going "OOOOOOOH." Psalm is one bad bitch. She did several songs with
LongShot, then closed her set with the songs "Be Cooooool" and "Beat the Drum." If Psalm One had
sweated any harder during her performance it would have been a wet t-shirt contest, nevertheless she
was positively glowing off the great response she got and might well have rocked longer if it wasn't
past midnight and there was growing People Under the Stairs anticipation.
Needless to say the crowd was not kept waiting long; while I was at her merch table buying a CD
and getting it autographed Thes One and Double K hit the stage and were immediately ready to tear
the house down. I have to give the large and in charge Double K double props for pulling double
duty, as he was not only rhyming but running the soundsystem and the turntables during their
entire set - at times he seemed to be doing all three at once. It should also be noted that he's
just as good on the wheels of steel as he is on the mic so Double K could have a career as a DJ
if he wanted, but his heart is clearly in the group. They were eager to perform new material
from "StepFather" and
quickly got into "Pass the 40," encouraging the crowd to recite the hook "pass the forty cause
my momma ain't looking" which the many inebriated people (off music, liquor, weed or all of the
above) were more than happy to do. I was not at all mad when they decided to freestyle off the
old Showbiz & A.G. "Soul Clap" beat, as those unexpected live moments are what make a show great.
They also got the crowd to do a live "N-E-B-R-A-S-K-A" chant, which could only sound dope when
led by MC's as energetic as Double K and Thes One. Of course that was followed by a song about
where they're from - "The L.A. Song" - a tribute to what influenced their hip-hop growing up.
The crowd had been asking for "Acid Raindrops" all night long and did not dissapoint, although
at some point before or after this Thes One put on an afro and said "I'm Rick James bitch!" to
a roaring howl of approval. They closed the set out with "San Francisco Knights," invited
Time Machine on stage to remix one of their songs, and then wrapped it up by inviting all the
women to dance on stage while they performed "Hang Loose." It was well after one in the morning
when all was said and done and it's safe to say everybody in attendance went home SPENT.
Thes One had a few minutes to give me some comments afterwards. I asked him if People Under
the Stairs were expecting that much energy tonight. "Omaha was a big surprise! We thought it
would just be a stopover between Minneapolis and Chicago, but there was a real connection to
the crowd and it shows you've got a solid hip-hop scene." In fact Thes pointed out that the
West coast is hella jaded, saying they rocked "San Francisco Knights" in San Fran and the crowd
just stood there and acted like it was no big deal. "They're only into who is hot and who is
not, and they're not happy unless they're frontin."
What about the difficulty of getting
larger tours together that promote acts like theirs? Thes squarely placed the blame on the
gangster behavior of large tours in the 1990's that burned the bridges for so many other groups.
He was also very pointed in his critique of the available promotional outlets. "The system is
all run off labels and payola. That's why international tours are our stronghold. Over there
you can hear our music on BBC-1 right next to the mainstream stuff. Cats feel hip-hop in London.
You can see amazing tours like Juice Crew, Pete Rock, Public Enemy, things that would never
happen over here."
Of course one might wonder why they'd even do US tours after reading that, but according
to Thes it's all about doing business hand to hand at small shows like these.
"That's the only way we sell. Honestly we live off the merchandise on our shows.
That's why when we travel, it's just me and Double K. There's no entourage of 20 people like
a 50 Cent show. We don't get the distribution in Best Buy. We get a little distribution
thanks to Sony Red and Basement, but not like other groups." He also had some pointed comments
about the lack of new groups in hip-hop today. "Everybody is all about freestyling, making
their name off dissing other cats, and not about building a scene. Consequently there's no
radio support. Pharcyde sold a million units of "Bizarre Ride," imagine if they came out
today, it would never happen. It's just wasting talent. Take all these freestylers and put
them in a group with a DJ. Form the links in the chain, we make a chain and link it from
the last generation to the next, there's too many MC's who are out of context."
When asked if he had any beef with OM over lack of promotion he said "Nah, we're happy with OM and
We're not looking for beef. Honestly I've given up a little bit on promotion, because we're
real hip-hop and not an angle. We tried to go to Epitaph, Boots told us to come through
when we were free, but they wanted to know what our angle was. Uhh, what? We're hip-hop.
That's not an angle. We just make good music." Perhaps the most shocking revelation Thes
gave me was that URB magazine wanted them to do an interview where they'd diss OM just to get
more publicity, and they flat out refused to do it.
Big up to Thes One for keeping it positive, he drove nine hours just to do this show and
had to pack up and be ready to roll out again when our interview was over. That's love for
hip-hop, something far too few artists have these days. Please support People Under the Stairs
and check out their "