Songiversary: “San Francisco Knights” Turns 19

This People Under The Stairs track is still one of the best songs out there about S.F.

People Under The Stairs (Credit: Hank Chacon)

People Under The Stairs might not be a Bay Area band (they’re from Los Angeles), but on March 24, 1998 the hip-hop crew released its debut album, The Next Step, on which the song “San Francisco Knights” appears.

 

Underlain with the hook to the Animal’s 1967 hit “San Franciscan Nights,” “San Francisco Knights” is a jazzy, melodic rap track, with an old-school vibe and shoutouts to S.F. icons like the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, and Rice-A-Roni. A word-heavy song, it features alternating verses from members Thes One and Double K.

The Next Step was recorded on a simple 8-track recorder in Thes One’s home in Los Angeles and was produced and engineered entirely by the crew. After releasing the album independently in 1998, it caught the attention of Chris Smith, owner of S.F. label Om Records, who offered the duo a four-album deal, which they accepted in 1999.

But because of “San Francisco Knights,” and possibly the fact that they’d signed with a Bay Area label, people mistakenly believed (and no doubt continue to believe) that People Under The Stairs were from S.F.

The real story? They wrote the song to commemorate a fun night they had in the city in 1998, because, come on, S.F. is a pretty fun place, is it not?

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