Reviewed by Robert Gabriel, Fri., Aug. 22, 2003
LifesavasSpirit in Stone (Quannum) With the fundamental tenets of hip-hop encapsulated as an act of refreshing rhythms, rhymes, and reason, Spirit in Stone epitomizes the invigorating potential of a freshmen debut. Transmitting from the hip-hop no-man's land of Portland, Ore., Lifesavas "emancipate a million souls" by crafting a sound seeped in infectious charisma. "You gotta stand for something, even if you're sitting down," proclaim crew members Vursatyl and Jumbo the Garbageman, instigating all to "Resist" the current "State of the World/ Apocalypse/War." Holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions by way of "Soldierfied," Jumbo informs "village idiots, I'm the period in your prison sentence." When the conversational approach of "Hellohihey" gives way to self-evaluation, Vursatyl holds himself to the same lofty standards he applies to others. As spiritually uplifting as they are confrontational, the Lifesavas conjure intensely positive vibes by way of sing-song melodies like "What If It's True?," the roots-reggae implications of "Fever," and the fiery disco of "Me." Guest appearances by J-Live on "Selector," Gift of Gab on "Livin' Time/Life: Movement 1," and the entire Quannum crew, including Blackalicious, Latyrx, and DJ Shadow, on "Emerge" further propel Spirit in Stone into the realms of a dynamism and maturity. All things considered, fresh is the word.