Consumer Guide Album
Lifesavas: Spirit in Stone [Quannum Projects, 2003]
Words come first in even the best underground hip hop. This Oregon trio leads with a sound, less catholic than that of their teachers De La Soul but still plenty absorptive--jazzlike, with a fluid Jamaican under-current. Although the record would stop dead if beats didn't switch from song to song, the same bounce brands them all. Then come the rhymes, which are witty, humane, political, all that good underground stuff (also Christian, a virtue, and speaking of virtues, anti-obscurantist). In my favorite, Vursatyl fends off annoying visits from a braggart MC ("we're 30 deep and each member's a mutant combination of six animals"), only to realize the egomaniac is himself, and a good thing too--without his secret belief that he's the greatest rapper in the universe, he couldn't be a good one.