It’s been a gotdamn long time coming. While Planet Asia hasn’t yet released a true full-length album he has been spotted everywhere. He teased his fans with EP’s. He’s guest spotted on everyone’s work from Dilated peoples to Baby Blaq. He’s occupied his part time position as one half of the Cali Agents with fellow Californian Rasco. So with all of that everyone has asked “When the hell is the kid gonna drop a full length LP for all to appreciate?” Well… wait no more kiddies because the time has come for Planet Asia has finally attempted to set his best foot forward with his formal introduction to the rap game the properly titled “The Grand Opening.”
“The Grand Opening” is a debut CD that brings out the best and the worst in Planet Asia. One thing is for sure…. This kid spits fire! When Asia hones his skills appropriately the outcome is more than satisfactory. The triumphant horns of underground fav “Pure Coke” are an example of his potential to deliver solid material. When coupled with another fire spitting emcee, Asia and Ghostface create a monster of a joint. The Supa Dave West produced burner “Real Niggaz” will have any hip-hop head ready to leap out of his window after gathering a taste of this duo’s lyrical lashing. Asia definitely hasn’t abandoned his style, but he tends to go with a more soulful sound which also works. “Upside Down” presents Asia with a more concept driven joint assisted by songstress Goapele. Even the smoothed out sounds of his girlie joint “Hypnotize” become a guilty pleasure. But the crown jewel of this album has got to be the rock solid “Right or Wrong” where Asia is at his finest, shredding line after line with his vocal venom.
Where Asia falters is his apparent attempt to please too many. His album goes many different directions that many of his fans (including this critic) were not prepared for. His production tends to be spotty at best with his club happy anthems that just don’t work. Check the bogus cuts “It’s All Big” and “Paper Up” which are so blatant in approach that even the biggest Planet Asia fan has to shrug his shoulder and hang his head in shame.
“Grand Opening” is an album the runs parallel with another underground favorite whose debut showcased too many styles and failed to stay loyal to his following, Royce Da 5’9″. It’s a pretty difficult task to please new fans when you haven’t satisfied the ones you have. He’s still a dope emcee, no doubt, but has yet to focus on his strengths and reach his full potential. So with that said, what we all hope is that the next time Asia drops an LP he looks back just as Royce did and fulfill his own prophecy by releasing an album that’s true to him and his fans.