Rhythm & Views 


From the mean streets of Portland, Ore., comes this amazing trio--composed of MCs Vursatyl and Jumbo and DJ Rev Shines--with its second CD. Working a late-'80s/early-'90s conscious-rap vibe, this monster album shows the group manipulating the sounds and imagery of "blaxploitation" culture of the 1970s.

Echoes of De La Soul, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, The Roots and George Clinton abound, which is not inappropriate since the roster of collaborators includes Clinton, Digable Planets, Dead Prez, Camp Lo and Fishbone.

They seamlessly meld cheesy '70s keyboards, lite-jazz samples and crucial beats to create a hip-hop concoction at home in the lounge and on the streets.

On the beguiling "Shine Language," MCs Jumbo and Vursatyl ride a furious keyboard sample (that seems equally inspired by Dr. Dre's '90s G-funk and John Carpenter's score for Halloween), unfurling a socially conscious tale of street life.

The irrepressible groove continues with the lush and hypnotic funk of "Take Me Away" (not unlike the rich sound of Blackalicious), the pointed "A Serpent's Love," with its muted Latin horn samples, and the brawny "The Warning," which seems to recall an eccentric combination of Timbaland's off-kilter productions for Missy Elliott and the gruff stoner rap of Cypress Hill.

Granted, Lifesavas bring together some divergent strains of hip-hop, but if you can get your head around their style, you'll find it rewarding.

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