Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Lifesavas (made up of rapper Vursatyl and producer/rapper Jumbo The Garbageman) have made one of 2007's best hip-hop albums with their latest release Gutterfly. Drawing inspiration from blaxploitation films and other sources, Gutterfly features a surprising array of guest stars and top-notch lyrics and production. It's positive and socially conscious without being preachy or pretentious.
Similar to great hip-hop albums like De La Soul's De La Soul Is Dead, Gutterfly is a concept album. The intro, "Welcome To Razorblade City," introduces listeners to this album's world. Razorblade City takes the place of Portland on this album while the members of Lifesavas take on other personas. Vursatyl became Bumpy Johnson and Jumbo The Garbageman became Sleepy Floyd. Interludes between songs tell the story of the two characters and how they tried to survive and thrive in the hood.
There are no real skits on the album and unlike something like Prince Paul's A Prince Among Thieves, none of the songs have the Lifesavas or guests really rapping in character. However, the songs on Gutterfly adhere to the themes present in the album's "story."
"Double Up," the album's first real song, turns some simple vocal samples into a beat layered with flute and other sounds. The song deals with the risks and choices you make in life. This might make you think that the song is somewhat serious or downbeat. On the contrary, Lifesavas use some fun wordplay and lyrics to get the message across. The real highlight of this song is the final verse where Vursatyl and Jumbo go back and forth. It sounds sort of like a routine, the way the two of them play off each other here. What makes it better is that they realize this mid-verse and give us references to classic comedy routines (Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First?") and classic cons (the shell game).