When hip-hop is in a state of emergency, call Visionaries. Keeping independent hip-hop alive for 13 years strong, Visionaries prove that flossy rims, gaudy jewelry, a mouthful of expletives, and a gangstafied image only go so far in rap and that talent truly divides the Jay-Zs, Tupacs, and Big Ls from the Soulja Boys in the game. Back in action with We Are the Ones (We’ve Been Waiting For) Visionaries return with their trademark, feel-good rhymes on topics from racial profiling to ghetto-life memories.A self-proclaimed celebration, We Are is an instant underground classic from the cheery opener “All We Need” to the eye-opening reality check “All Right.” Backed by like-minded underground rappers and DJs, Visionaries’ fourth album trots out an all-star cast with guest cameos from the likes of Ikey Owens, Kev Brown, J Dilla, Madlib, James Alsander, Polyhedron, and more. While the production on some of the tracks is a bit basic, repetitive, and overtly low budget-such as the drowned-out, J Dilla-produced “All Right,” which could have packed a potent punch with crisper mastering-the group members’ individual approaches to each verse add an unmatched originality that stems from the Los Angeles-based sextet’ ethnical diversity.
The gem of the album undoubtedly is the J Rocc-produced “Do Gooders,” where the Beat Junkies DJ meshes soothing acoustic guitar licks, classic hip-hop drum loops, and DJ Premier-like scratching. A little more radio-friendly, “Crop Circles” sees Visionaries taking listeners on a musical history lesson, reviving old school breakbeats with a club-banging rhythm section. Keeping a thorough slow pace that creates a serene listen perfect for Sunday BBQs, We Are the Ones (We’ve Been Waiting For) is the release Visionaries fans have been begging for.