I’m really surprised that it took them this long to use Pangaea as an album title; in fact, it would have been a great name for the group. For those unaware, Pangaea was the name of the super continent (billions of years ago), before it split into the seven continents that we know today. The Visionaries being the ethnically diverse group that they are, have come together to form one super-group. See the connection? Here is the group rundown for those that are unfamiliar with the crew: Beat Junkie DJ Rhettmatic, Dannu ( both from the Philippines), LMNO (of European heritage), 2Mex (Mexican), Zen (African-American) and KeyKool (Japanese).
The Visionaries came up with Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples as the LA underground scene blossomed in the late 90’s. After some notorious 12″s and a slight delay, they released their debut “Galleries” in 1998 and quickly followed up its success with the equally dope “Sophomore Jinx.” With a number of solo projects released in the meantime, the Visionaries have assembled like Voltron again (sorry Wu), for their third offering. With their regular producers still in tow (Rhettmatic, KeyKool, Evidence, Babu, and J-Rocc), they keep their trademark sound in tow while building upon their formula.
The album starts off in tremendous fashion with the title track, Life Rexall of the Shapeshifters hooks up a nice beat (although a well-known sample), and each member brings their truth to the table. A bit of a disturbing trend continues as Babu and Rhett flip yet another familiar sample for “Strike.” Don’t get me wrong, the track is fire, but I just feel like I’ve heard it before. “V-Peat” is another really dope track, but Mars Ill has used the same Spanish guitar. Maybe I just listen to too much music cause something tells me a lot of you won’t recognize these samples anyway. KeyKool keeps things rolling with his refreshing instrumentals. Both “DoMakeSayThink” and “Believe It” just ooze that vintage Visionaries sound. J-Rocc also takes a current trend (the sped up vocal sample) and intertwines it expertly with the airy beat for the excellent “If You Can’t Say Love.”
The used sample trend creeps up again (“6 Ring Circus” and “Starchaser”), but “6 Ring Circus” is just too dope for me care (so just ignore my nitpicking). “Nine Eleven” is a bit under-produced, but where it lacks in boom bap, it makes up for in poignant lyricism. We’re also treated to a couple posse cuts here. The first being a DJ only clinic on the 1’s and 2’s featuring Rhettmatic, Melo-D and Vinroc. The other is a massive “Meeting of the Minds” featuring fellow underground favorites the Living Legends. 6 Visionaries and 6 Legends (Lucky.I.AM, Eligh, Sunspot, Murs, Grouch and Scarub), trade verses with Rhett and KeyKool switching up the beat for each emcee. Another segment of the Los Angeles underground represents with Stones Throw‘s Oh No and Kan Kick lending a couple bangers (“Good Things,” and mixtape favorite “Sight For Sore Eyes”), to close out the album.
It comes as no surprise to me that the Visionaries have another dope record to add to their already impressive resume. Their fresh, purified sound continues to please and offer a sound unique to anything else available in hip-hop today. Do yourself a favor and become part of their vision.