After debuting in 1999 with the all-star Quannum Spectrum record, the Quannum label wasn't releasing enough albums to qualify as anything other than a boutique label; Lifesavas' wide-release LP was actually the first from a non-Quannum-connected artist. Spearheaded by Blackalicious' Chief Xcel, Spirit in Stone reveals a heavily spiritual hip-hop crew with plenty of talent. Producer Jumbo the Garbageman creates some warm, hard-hitting tracks heavy on the soul samples, and main rapper Vursatyl expands his De La Soul influence to don several guises, from a politically and spiritually conscious intelligent rapper to a smooth-flow master to a Rasta spitter. Gift of Gab, always a great addition to an optimistic message track, drops a batch of twisting rhymes for "Livin' Time/Life: Movement 1," and the full Quannum crew unites for the scratch symphony "Emerge." Lifesavas need more work to hit the same high peak as Blackalicious, but they already possess one of the rarest traits to find in hip-hop -- the ability to write on intriguing subjects, no matter the mic skills or sample digging. For evidence, listen to the hilarious "Hellohihey," on which Vursatyl runs through a collection of rap-group character lessons, from a metaphysical, cartoonish Voltron of a hip-hop crew to an arrogant, greater-than-thou rapper.
AllMusic Review by John Bush
feat: Gift of Gab