Planet Asia projects can be like birthday presents. One never knows if what they’re unwrapping will be a prized-possession or discarded, never to be seen again. It’s never been a question of the Fresno emcee’s abilities, more so a question of the artistic choices he makes. Planet Asia and Gold Chain Military’s Chain Of Command lives up to that reputation. Asia’s bi-coastal clique features DXnext alum Sav Killz, and production from the likes of Large Professor. At an early glance, this could be a crew’s creative breakthrough.

From the jump Chain of Command attacks the listener’s eardrums. Every artist, including Planet Asia, is hungry for mic time and with seven artists sharing one microphone, rightfully so. Each emcee is comfortable spitting multi-syllable rhyme schemes, filled with attacking/battle like content. Lyrically, the project is pretty consistent. The rhyme schemes vary from solid to outstanding, though the album lacks show-stopping punchlines or traits that pull individuals away from the pack. Instead, the project sees each emcee devoting a lot of time to showing his crew love.

The production sees the likes of Large Professor, Alchemist, Evidence and DJ Babu manning the boards. On a whole, the production is solid, but never on the cusp of being great. On tracks like “Mad as Hell,” a dope vocal sample, alongside aggressive lyrics, is ruined by soft hitting drums. These types of conflicting textures occur throughout the album. The production and the emcees seldom seem to be on the same page. When the two parties are on the same page, dope tracks like “Pleasure and Pain” can result. When they’re not – and that’s more frequently the case, the aforementioned “Mad as Hell” or “Chocolate Honeys” baffle the listener in cacophony. Moreover, those two blunders play in that order on Chain of Command, making the RBC Records project lose its momentum.

The album’s downfall is the GCM’s choice of choruses. “Pleasure and Pain” is the only chorus that stands out. The rest are either forgettable or unforgettably awkward. Take “Organic Food” for example, featuring quality production from the same ears that brought you Nas‘ “It Ain’t Hard To Tell.”  The track title itself is unappealing to many listeners, but coupled with the chorus, and the song’s weakness drown out its strengths. One can’t help but ponder the direction that GCM chose over arguably the best production of the album. It’s one of many decisions that don’t seem to add up and muddy the group’s debut. 

The intentions of Gold Chain Military are commendable. Each emcee is blessed with the gift of rhyme and genuinely enjoys what they do. Thee passion that each emcee has seeps out of the project. However, the listener can’t help but conclude that the flaws of the project overwhelm the intentions. Poor choruses, over-top conflicting production leaves the listener of Chain of Command unsettled. It’s obvious that Planet Asia and GCM can rhyme with the best, but their album-making fails to translate from the talent that made the group notable.