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13 August, 2003@12:00 am

 While the Lifesavas are not actually from the Quannum housing projects (the Bay Area), this Portland based crew fits right in next Blackalicious and Latyrx, holding down the Solesides tradition for a new generation.

    Their debut, Spirit In Stone does a good job of carrying the torch from the moment it jumps off on “Soldierfied” with its RJD2-esque hard hitting drums and electric effects, as the crew trades mics, dissecting how the industry has tainted the music. The channel changes quickly after it’s energetic intro with the misplaced “It’s Over” (which fits perfectly as track two, despite it’s assumed attempt to be the hidden track), as Vursatyl spits his technically impressive flow with smile inducing lyrics. These two attention getters carry us into the real meat of the album, as the Lifesavas bring a few cool conceptual joints such as “What If It’s True”, which ponders the reality of life’s many unanswered questions, while providing head-bops with its catchy hook. “Hellohihey” does the same, as Vursatyl holds conversations with two opposite extremes, the hungry underground rapper; and the fulfilled major label flavor of the month – only to find out it’s his own past and future he’s speaking to (word to Scrooge). And of course the guest appearances from J-Live on “Selector” and Gift of Gab on “Livin’ Time / Life: Movement 1″ can’t help but add some extra flavor to two already dope cuts.

    While the “Head Exercise” lasts throughout the first half of the album, all the way up to the track of the same name, the thoughtful “Fa Show” will inspire you to do even more (yes, dance), as the Lifesavas describe the quintessential rapper’s girlfriend: not in it for the fame, the glamour, or the glitz. However, while the crew’s album of honest jams and hard hitting beats will keep your attention for the most part, it’s not without its sleepier, more repetitive joints that drive the album into monotony. The reggae tinged “Fever” seems to go in circles, much like the preachy “5th Horsemen” and strangely sampled “Skeletons”, each of which drag on thanks to often repetitive hooks and themes. However, all faces are saved with the wonderful “Emerge”, which unites the entire crew for a Quannum tour-de-force.

    This is Lifesavas official debut album, so it’s only natural they will have misstepped in a few different places, but it’s evident the talent is here; ready to be polished for album number two. After all, many of hip-hop’s best albums came sophomore year, such as Tribe Called Quest’s Low End Theory, Mobb Deep’s The Infamous and Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions). So while it’s only their debut, give these fresh-men a chance, they could save hip-hop’s life one day.

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