With so many rappers idling towards upbeat, party-oriented tracks today, the more classic, sample-based Hip Hop albums have begun to fall by the wayside. Aware of this, rapper Planet Asia and producer Gensu Dean have put their heads together and concocted Abrasions. The 17-track collaborative effort can be seen as counter-effort to the more predominant and contemporary Hip Hop in 2013.
For Planet Asia, Abrasions is the veteran’s fifth collaborative LP with one producer or production team. A true journeyman, he has made a name for himself over a span of more than a decade, having worked with dozens of artists from DJ Muggs to Talib Kweli. As for Gensu Dean, Abrasions carries a bit more significance: it is his first collaborative album under Mello Music Group, as well as his second release as a roster mate. Though his professional career is still relatively young, Gensu Dean has done well for himself over a roughly 10-year stint producing, having worked with artists like Brand Nubian, Large Professor and David Banner. In early 2012, he released his first album via Mello Music Group, Lo-Fi Fingahz.
Abrasions resonates with a strong, authentic grit. The album begins with a combination of bumping bass and minimal, yet potent sampling from Gensu Dean. Planet Asia matches the tone of each track and meshes in nicely with his scattered rhyme schemes. On “Thoroughest” and “Cochise,” the combination creates a sound some might find similar to MF DOOM. But the sound switches as the album moves along. With Tristate alongside for a guest verse on “Dignity,” both artists hone in as Gensu Dean returns to a more digestible breakbeat sound, while Planet Asia boldly address his peers, declaring, “Shit that I be kickin’ is kind of different / Ya niggas is bleach brainwash undercover molly-sniffers / Fuck the politickin’ / My only mission is to bomb the system…” His distaste for the most vastly consumed brand of Hip Hop is a common theme throughout Abrasions, but the blunt lyricism here especially hits home for fans of the underground.
While both artists consistently provide solid efforts on each track, the cohesiveness of their bond is, at times, slightly less steady. On “Aura,” Gensu Dean steals the show with a captivating beat that dominates the verses. Likewise on “Do What I Want,” Planet Asia’s quotable lyrics and a soulful hook provided by the Larina & Washey Choir lack the impact they deserve, over a less exciting beat. Instances like these, however, are few and far between. The duo makes up for any stumbles along the way, with tracks like “Faces On The Dollar” and “Tough” that provide the street lyrics and bumping production both artists are known for. And a real treat comes at the end on “Thyself” which features David Banner and Tragedy Khadafi over what could be one of the album’s best beats.
As a whole, the pair succeeds in establishing a commendable creative chemistry. Planet Asia’s gritty lyrics and Gensu Dean’s raw production help establish Abrasions as a refreshing listen and a solid all-around effort for both artists that is true to form.