People Under the Stairs - Question in the Form of an Answer (2000), 7/10

Beginning with a play on “Scarborough Fair”, Thes and Double K give you a proper introduction to Question in the Form of an Answer and its clearly mature direction. There are still plenty of fun loving and even silly moments, something the two excel at creating, but there are just as many individual moments with great integrity, resulting in a very rounded out hip-hop album early in the duo’s career. “Youth Explosion”, for example, has PUTS decorating a very off-kilter uncommon sample with their battling flow, something that they would fully realize and master on O.S.T.. While the sampling and beats are not quite at their peak, they are formidable and create a very singular aesthetic that you can recognize as People Under the Stairs on any given track. “Suite for Creeper” is an example of the best and simultaneously the worst that the album has to offer. There are some extremely interesting and effective sounds in the mix, but Double K’s delivery is belittled by questionable choices in production. Generally, the production is lacking in comparison to their later albums, something in common with their debut that results in a bottleneck for their talent, inhibiting many of these songs and their success as single tracks, though they flow quite well regardless. Then there are songs like “Blowin Wax” that sound like these two reaching an early peak, transcending the training wheels to bring a heavy-hitting song that packs a serious punch, all while providing a matured sound unheard on The Next Step. Towards the latter half, “July 3rd", I feel, is a mostly overlooked song that deserves more attention, there are several songs like this mixed into the track list. The hit that deserves its success being “Earth Travelers”, a wonderfully produced and performed song. As an album, Question in the Form of an Answer maintains a consistent quality, somewhere in the realm of great but not amazing. In hindsight it is clearly more of a steppingstone toward fully realized sound rather than a fantastic hip-hop album in itself. It has its moments but never quite achieves even the sound of the duo’s next effort, even in its best arranged and executed songs.