Artist: LifesavasTitle: Gutterfly: The Original SoundtrackRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Felipe Delerme
Typically, when a music album title contains the words, “The Original Soundtrack,” there is an accompanying movie, of which the music was either used for, or in the least inspired by. In the case of Gutterfly: The Original Soundtrack (Quannum), the sophomore album of Portland’s own Lifesavas, there is no such aid. Aid being the key word, as the album could use some assistance.
As the story goes, Gutterfly was initially a script for a blaxploitation film written by Brooklyn’s Baraka Feldman. Feldman passed before the movie’s fruition, but not before meeting the Lifesavas, who drew so much from the script and blaxploitation culture in general, the concept of Gutterfly the album was born. The biggest difference between the movie genre and the album, however, is that the album lacks the self-effacing humor of blaxploitation, leaving the focus narrowly on self-aggrandizement. In an attempt to paint themselves as modern day blaxploitation heroes, Lifesavas come off as pretentious and preachy, tossing about clichés the likes of, “Freedom don’t come for free/ freedom comes with a fight,” and, “I choose to be a prophet over profit.” Stylistically, focus emcees Vursatyl and Jumbo the Garbage Man, borrow heavily from Dilated Peoples, but live in such like-minded flows that they become interchangeable for most of the album.
The album’s saving grace is very much the production. Mostly funkdafied and horn-rich, it makes for an enthralling backdrop, but at times serves to undermine the emcees, as on “Shine Language” with it’s suspense chase-scene flutter, a near identical version of which Prodigy of Mobb Deep destroyed on the Mobb’s Free Agents mixtape.
Turning sight into sound makes for a daunting task for anyone, even self-proclaimed Lifesavas, but with Gutterfly, our heroes may have bitten off a bit more than they can chew.