G-Funk Forever: A Look Back at Overlooked West Coast Gem, Vontel’s “Vision Of A Dream”

The '98 album features production from Roger Troutman and Battlecat.
By    August 19, 2015

Vontel - Vision of a Dream (Cover)F

Torii MacAdams ain’t scared of police

In 1998, g-funk producer Battlecat placed five instrumentals on WC’s The Shadiest One, including hit “Just Clownin’.” Simultaneously, Roger Troutman’s career was in the midst of a resurrection. A wave of rappers, likely influenced by the success of 2Pac’s “California Love,” had tapped the former Zapp frontman for guest appearances. But instead of collaborating with any number of still-active West Coast legends, the pair lent to their talents to Phoenix rapper Vontel, for his album Vision Of A Dream.

Vontel, like WC, received five instrumentals from Battlecat, and Troutman’s signature mechanized talkbox croon features twice on Vision Of A Dream. I can’t pretend to have an explanation for these historical unlikelihoods–information on Vontel is essentially nonexistent. My guess is that Vontel’s attempt at rap stardom, like innumerable others, was funded by one of the industry’s oldest investors: Drug Money.

Investments of dubious origins shouldn’t detract from Vision Of A Dream, nor should the patently ridiculous cover, on which Vontel dons a purple suit possibly stolen from the closet of Luther Vandross. Vontel’s a surprisingly adept rapper, whose smooth, nimble delivery commingles comfortably with Battlecat’s thumping production. The album’s highlight, “Say Playa,” combines Troutman’s arpeggiating warble, a heavily layered Battlecat instrumental, and Vontel’s tales of becoming a playa (A G-funk album’s quality is directly proportional to the number of times someone uses the word “playa.”).

The overall quality of Vision Of A Dream, and its release on the short-lived Fo Life Records, has fostered a healthy market for the few extant copies of the album. Prices for the CD average around $40, with the truncated vinyl EP hovering around $20. A French-language website claims that, before rampant Internet piracy, someone in Japan purchased the CD version for $500. There are rumors of an EP which preceded Vision Of A Dream, but it appears Vontel’s career was limited to a single, “Loungin,” and its attendant music video, followed by his full length album. Download the album to save yourself a few dollars, and gain a warm, fuzzy sense of edification.

Download: Vontel’s Vision Of A Dream

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