What first caught my attention from Planet Asia’s new album Still In Training was the irony of its title. After all, Asia has already sewn his oats on the underground scene and parlayed that into a major label deal with Interscope where he recorded a still vaulted debut that included collaborations with Pete Rock and Ghostface Killah. But as hip-hop has been known to do, Asia was forced to eat some humble-pie, as Interscope put him on the backburner until he eventually severed ties with the imprint.
With that in mind, Asia is back to making the underground rounds once again with Still In Training and things start off right with “Rock Tha Mic”, which is a very laid back, but bouncy track with Asia doing just as the title suggest. In what quickly becomes a recurrence, Asia’s lyrics rarely go beyond the realm of detailing how dope he is; exemplified by “Breakin’ Shit Down”, “I Spit Flows”, “M-16 Ammunition”, and “Doin’ What We Do Remix.” There’s nothing wrong with bragging and boasting, but how many ways can you really say you’re dope?
But that’s not to say that there aren’t any conceptual tracks on Still in Training. On the Illmatic influenced “Fresno State Of Mind”, Asia raps about his stomping ground, taking you through an average day in the neighborhood. Asia expands further with “Keep Movin’”, which is an analytical look at the black experience in America today. It is worth mentioned that these are the two standout tracks on the album, and should go to show that Asia has the potential to create a truly classic album if he were to stray away from creating an album that is almost 90% battle-oriented tracks and incorporated more conceptual themes. Other notable tracks include “Charcoal” which features a dope piano loop and impressive cuts by DJ Revolution. “Mi Nuh Left It” is the track to best rattle your jeep speakers with a thumping beat accompanied by Madd Dogg, who brings the Rasta feel that suits the track perfectly.
Unfortunately, there are also certain tracks that should have been left on the cutting room floor with the guts left over from Asia’s blunts. “Keep Ya Ass Shakin’” is just as corny as the title implies and while “Doing What We Do” is lyrically dope, the beat and hook leaves much to be desired.
There’s no denying Planet Asia has skill, and there’s no denying he makes that clear on this full-length. Still in Training has that distinct Cali sound that will not disappoint the heads that appreciate the West Coast vibe, but were still left waiting for Asia to truly hone his craft and deliver us the LP that once and for all lives up to his vast potential.
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