17 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

MC Vursatyl, MC/producer Jumbo, and DJ Shines star in their very own, very theoretical blaxploitation flick (loosely based on an aborted ‘80s film concept by Baraka Feldman) about three ghetto strivers escaping the morass of their Portland, um, Razorblade City environment. While the narrative thread winds up being far beside the point, Gutterfly uses the funk and soul sounds of the blaxploitation era to great effect — and, with its often sharp sociopolitical commentary, shows how little the urban landscape has changed in the past 30 years. “Double Up,” densely and woozily produced by Oh No, boasts flute and horn loops that nod to the ‘70s, but the jagged beats and cuts by Shines and Jumbo are pure 21st century West Coast hip-hop. The title track, with rapper Camp Lo, bounces rhymes off straight-ahead, trumpet-fueled funk rhythms, while the mellow, jazzy soul of “No Surprise” (produced by Vitamin D) and the menacing, slightly exotic guitar and bass of “A Serpent’s Love” (featuring Digable Planet’s Ish) explore wider sonic territory. Fishbone provides appropriately dark instrumental support on “Dead Ones,” and “Night Out” features soulful background singers against the vocal musings of George Clinton. Most powerful is the inspirational, anthemic “Freedom Walk,” where they’re joined by rappers Dead Prez and guitarist Vernon Reid.

EDITORS’ NOTES

MC Vursatyl, MC/producer Jumbo, and DJ Shines star in their very own, very theoretical blaxploitation flick (loosely based on an aborted ‘80s film concept by Baraka Feldman) about three ghetto strivers escaping the morass of their Portland, um, Razorblade City environment. While the narrative thread winds up being far beside the point, Gutterfly uses the funk and soul sounds of the blaxploitation era to great effect — and, with its often sharp sociopolitical commentary, shows how little the urban landscape has changed in the past 30 years. “Double Up,” densely and woozily produced by Oh No, boasts flute and horn loops that nod to the ‘70s, but the jagged beats and cuts by Shines and Jumbo are pure 21st century West Coast hip-hop. The title track, with rapper Camp Lo, bounces rhymes off straight-ahead, trumpet-fueled funk rhythms, while the mellow, jazzy soul of “No Surprise” (produced by Vitamin D) and the menacing, slightly exotic guitar and bass of “A Serpent’s Love” (featuring Digable Planet’s Ish) explore wider sonic territory. Fishbone provides appropriately dark instrumental support on “Dead Ones,” and “Night Out” features soulful background singers against the vocal musings of George Clinton. Most powerful is the inspirational, anthemic “Freedom Walk,” where they’re joined by rappers Dead Prez and guitarist Vernon Reid.

TITLE TIME
0:48
3:46
4:24
4:01
3:59
3:20
5:33
4:04
2:54
3:44
5:01
3:38
3:56
5:37
3:42
0:38
2:47

About Lifesavas

Lifesavas, the Portland, OR-based duo of MC Vursatyl and producer/MC Jumbo the Garbageman, became one of the few non-affiliated artists to release a record through Quannum, the successor to underground rap phenom Solesides. The duo met while playing basketball and soon got hipped to each other's rapping talents; after a short-lived project, they formed Lifesavas and recorded a single, "Grand Larceny." After it was heard by Quannum-connected Chief Xcel, the pair began getting spins and did a show with Latyrx. Second single "Headexercise" was released on Quannum, and after steady touring with Blackalicious, Lifesavas released a debut full-length, Spirit in Stone, in 2003. For their next project the group decided, in order to give themselves more artistic freedom, to create a story about a never-completed blaxpoitation film whose director had shared his ideas with the rappers after moving to Portland, which then in turn inspired Lifesavas to make a record using that as their guideline. In fact, this was all invented, but Gutterfly, a kind of concept album about life in the ghetto, and influenced by blaxpoitation and other cult films, came out in 2007 and featured guest appearances from Fishbone, Dead Prez, and Smif-N-Wesson, among others. ~ John Bush & Marisa Brown

  • ORIGIN
    Portland, OR

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