Pangea Pham The Pangea Project

As hard as it is to deliver original themes on hip-hop these days, once you add generic thug raps to the mix, well, a wing and a prayer are about all you have left. On The Pangea Project, Boston’s five-member Pangea Pham attempt to break through with an inclusive approach that reaches out to both stereotypically "street” and "underground” enclaves, with the individual personality of each integrant finding room to shine on their specific tracks. The record starts out on solid ground with scowling synth clapper "Why We Out Here,” followed by crewmember Tystormz’s waste-laying attack on misguided thugs on the grimy "Slide.” Focused storylines save the brief mid-record club excursions, while the sheer breadth of rhythmic attacks — bouncy and double time on the Ludacris-style "Ridin,” using soul hooks and head-nodding beats on "Look What You’ve” — keeps this album interesting when the mediocre lyrics wear thin. If nothing else, it shows that sometimes both are better than this or that in the often-divisive hip-hop game. (Acuta)