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16 June, 2007@12:00 am

   When you hear West Coast music, what pops into your head first?  90% of fans probably said something either to do with Dr. Dre or perhaps the Hyphy movement.  The truth is, there’s more to West Coast Hip-Hop than what you’re used to, and for nearly two decades, Cali rappers have been trying to break out of those stereotypes.  Planet Asia and Rasco, the duo that make up Cali Agents, are just that group to do it.  With dope lyrics and incredible production, their album Fire & Ice is bound to turn some heads and alter some opinions.

    There’s a difference between two guys rapping on the same song and two guys doing a song together.  Without question these two artists have chemistry – Rasco’s raspy voice effortlessly compliments Planet Asia’s smooth delivery.  They trade off each others words and flow on “Something New” and provide each other’s ad-libs on the title track. Many of the hooks are spit simultaneously for a more harmonious sound.  Their rhymes are very punchline driven and are built for battles and ciphers anywhere in the country.  “You need 100 years to hop in these Nike Airs/ to fight fair is a nightmare/ straight up eliminate you in your square”, Planet Asia raps on “Something New”.

    The real eye openers however, are the beats.  Soul Professa, who is responsible for all but three tracks, brilliantly blends drums and heavy metal guitar rifts with traditional basslines and scratching. Soul Professa captures that “live show” feeling when he spontaneously adjusts the tempo, pattern and volume to fit Asia and Rasco’s rhymes.  Even the intro and interludes have an infectious rhythm that maintains the pace and intensity of the album.  His style definitely gives the album an energy level that turns your iPod headphones into a 60 minute concert.

     A few blemishes hold this album back.  Some songs simply fall short of the bar.  “Baby Girl” is an attempt to rap to the ladies but they approach it with the same tone as if they were battling her.  There are also some rhymes that should have been reconsidered… “We keep feet to the street like Fred and Barney.”  Rasco and Planet Asia are talented emcees, but they aren’t good enough to set them apart from the pack.  However, when you combine their skills with Soul Professa’s beats, you’ve got yourself a solid album that provides you with a “G-Funk” alternative when you want to take a trip to the West.

  Mixtape D.L.
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