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Lifesavas have some big, Blackalicious shoes to fill—and so far, they’ve managed to out-funk the Quannum family name. The Portland, Ore.–based hip-hop duo’s only released full-length album, Spirit in Stone, is a cohesive statement of purpose about better living, but it isn’t just feel-good hip-hop. It’s full of wrath-of-God spiritualism and thoughtful political affirmations that don’t always reflect the liberal party line. The MCs address cloning, salvation, reparations, and abortion but always manage to avoid superficiality and pedantry. Like their labelmate Blackalicious, Lifesavas have vocalists, Vursatyl and Jumbo the Garbageman, who are smart enough to bridge the gap between socially conscious street preaching and repping how dope they are. There’s no shortage of rewind-worthy punchlines (“I wrecks it like Manute Bol’s hook shot”), and they skewer groupie and thug culture (“I’m a real thug, that’s a thug fact/Wake up in the morning, take a thug bath”). This is intelligent rap for people who like wondering, Did they really just name-drop Depeche Mode and rhyme something with pachyderm? Yes, they did. Lifesavas are on the last leg of a tour before hunkering down in the studio to finish their forthcoming album, Gutterfly, the soundtrack to an as-yet-unreleased blaxploitation film from the ’70s. Check out all their flavors when they perform with Blackalicious & Fatlip with Omni and Pigeon John at 7 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $20. (202) 265-0930. (Doug Tye)
Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Doug Tye.