Thank You, Thes One
Last week, Thes One of People Under The Stairs announced on Instagram that he retires from professional music. Their show at The Jazz Cafe in London (UK) last Saturday was his last: “A sold-out show in the city that started our career, I can’t think of a better way to step off stage, never to return.”
It might seem a bit dramatic to dedicate a post to it. But it only feels right to give thanks after steady-listening to People Under The Stairs for over twelve years now. Let alone the fact that they have been at it for over 20 years since 1998’s The Next Step. All those years independently and with a relentless spirit.
Thinking of this, it brought back a memory.
When I was barely 16 years old, I went to see People Under The Stairs live at Doornroosje: a small concert venue in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. I went all by myself. Coming from a small rural town without any music stores (or any stores, for that matter), I didn’t know anyone yet who was into hip-hop music. It was the first non-Dutch hip-hop show I went to–not counting a huge stadium show by Eminem three years earlier.
Somewhere in between, I discovered “Acid Raindrops” and “San Francisco Knights.” All while I went deeper into my love for this thing called “hip-hop.” Limewire and music blogs opened up a whole world behind the usual rap suspects I listened to through music channels MTV, TMF, and The Box. But yeah, you know how it goes.
At the venue, there was a little merchandise stand with a guy who I didn’t know. Looking at all records and CDs, I recognized his face from Giant Panda’s Fly School Reunion cover. “Are you a DJ or a collector?”, he asked after I was silently staring at the records for minutes, as the slightly socially awkward guy I was. “No, I just like records,” I said–my vast vinyl collection at the time was a total of three records.
The live show by Giant Panda and People Under The Stairs, promoting their then-new Stepfather album, impressed me. It felt completely new, fresh, and positive as opposed to the rap music I was used to. And seeing Double K and Thes One interact with the crowd blew me away: there are artists who actually talk to the audience??
After what must’ve been 10+ minutes of awkward waiting, all of a sudden Thes points at me.
After the show, I bought a Fly School Reunion CD and a 12″ of Pass The 40 (sidenote: it took me quite a while before I realized what “a 40” was) to have it signed by all of them. Which I did, including a misspelled “Denny.” While all older heads were talking to Double K and Thes One about music I didn’t even know yet, I just stood there without saying a thing; enjoying the conversations and praise they got from fans.
Then I realized I had to catch the last train to my deserted hometown. I tried to build up the courage to say something. In hindsight: as if anyone would care I had to go home… After what must’ve been 10+ minutes of awkward waiting, all of a sudden Thes points at me. “I think this guy wants to say something. What’s up?” Finally, I could give my praise to them by way of saying “I have to catch my train. Thank you for a great show.” After a few awkward handshakes, I headed out with a 12″-keepsake under my arm.
Twelve years later, I guess that’s also exactly what needs to be said: Thanks for a great show, Thes. The P forever.
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Dear friends, family, fans – The past 20 years have been a dream but it’s time for me to move on. Tomorrow, as I step off stage in London, I will be retiring from professional music. This has been a long time coming and hasn’t been an easy decision to make, but I had always dreamed of going out on top. With an amazing final album and a sold out show in the city that started our career, I can’t think of a better way to step off stage, never to return. Sincerely, The P will be released Nov. 23rd and I believe it’s a fitting bookend to our catalog, the 12th and final step. I would like to thank each and every one of you for helping make my childhood dream come true and for much longer than I ever expected. I’ll never forget the handshakes and hugs all around the world – 6 continents, thousands of shows and 20 years of DIY touring has been an achievement few groups can claim and I’m forever grateful for your boundless support. I believe history will be kind to our legacy and what we’ve created, even if we remain overlooked by the masses. There are too many people to acknowledge or thank individually, but know that I am grateful for all of you, even if I haven’t always shown it. 20 years is a long time for any job but in this industry it’s about 5 lifetimes, and for good reason – the physical and emotional toll of being not only the producer and mc, but also the driver, merch seller, manager, financier, web developer, mail boy, clothing designer etc has been exhausting. It’s the DIY way and I wouldn’t have changed it for anything, but for me it’s time to rest and spend what little time I have left with my family. Double K will continue on in my absence, and I’m sure you’ll see him on the turntables in your town at some point. The P lives on forever through our music and the memories we’ve made together. What we’ve achieved, we’ve done on our own, on our own terms, and I’m proud of it. And Thank you, all of you, for everything. Dublin tonight, London tomorrow night for my final show. Forever The P.