Medicine: a drug or remedy used for treating illness.
Nas proclaimed that Hip-Hop is dead and Jay-Z declared his return would save the game. Many artists are not pleased with the current state of Hip-Hop, but refrain from being vocal about their disdain, in fear of being called a hater. Others make their own personal statement by making their own brand of music as opposed to conforming to the norm. Enter Planet Asia. Your favorite Cali Agent returns with an attempt to rectify the situation with another dose of Gold Chain Music.
PA comes out of the gate running with “Da Prescription”, where he displays much lyrical dexterity and reminds us L.A. isn’t the only place in Southern Cali where MC’s dwell. The Fresno representative teams up with his City of Angels brethren, Evidence, who handles the production of the enitre album. These two are at their best on tracks like “All The Names” and “The Medicine”, where the reveal the true meaning of Gold Chain Music. The production combined with the lyricism is reminiscent of any DJ/MC duo from the era of the four-finger ring and gold chain.
Asia enlists an arsenal of guests which leaves us with some hit or miss tracks. On “Over Your Head”, the super lyrical Black Thought delivers a not so stellar performance. Not only does his verse sound last minute, it’s only 8-bars. This is definitely a shock coming from the man who held his own beside the likes of Big Pun, Common, and Mos Def. PA makes up for the misstep and even borrows Mr. Trotter’s style for a portion of the track. “Stick & Move” features Dilated Peoples East Coast connection Prodigy, who spits a verse that leans more towards “Flavor For The Non-Believers” (Juvenile Hell) than “Burn” (Infamy), which is definitely a good look, and leaves the two sticking and moving all over this joint. “Dilated Agents” brings in the other Cali Agent, Rasco, and of course Dilated Peoples. Nothing overly exciting, but nothing unbearable either.
The album falls short due to too much filler. Songs like “Get Active”, and “That’s On Me” would not have been missed if they were removed from the final playlist, while “Ghetto’s Thirsty” only dilutes the medicine instead of making it more potent. This is disappointing because on this song Asia recites some of the album’s most meaningful content. If you can get past the completely boring track and absolutely terrible chorus, you will realize the message expressed is one that needs to be heard. Completing an entire album with one producer can be a gift and a curse. On some tracks Evidence seems to be reaching for a more West Coast, G-Funk type of sound, which is alright, but it doesn’t complement PA’s flow. At other times, he manages to give us what we’re used to and leaves the track reeking of their patented GCM. This album may not be a complete cure for the illness that plagues Hip-Hop, however it is a large enough dose to remedy your need to escape what is commonplace.
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