former West Coast indie heavyweights have faded into obscurity since the late
90’s. Though many released albums after the underground scene experienced a
slight decline, few have remained relevant in the music industry. Fresno native Planet Asia is hoping to distinguish
himself from those also-rans and let everyone know that he’s still pumping a
strong brand of “Cali-Hop” with his latest offering The Medicine.

treating fans to a steady supply of mixtapes the past few years, Planet Asia attempts to give listeners
a full dosage of the cutting wit and trigger happy flow that he’s known for.
But the Cali Agent must have filled
out the wrong prescription because The
is a step back from his earlier work. Bogged down by lackluster production,
almost exclusively done by Evidence,
the album is musically a skeleton that’s still waiting for muscles and skin to
be added to it. While Evidence’s
understated style works wonderfully on “Get Active,” he provides some audio
Nyquil for “That’s On Me.” The Dilated
producer offends ears even more with “On Your Way 93706,” an acid-induced dud
that couldn’t move a classroom full of kids inflicted with ADD.

Evidence tries to atone for his mistakes by
lacing “Dilated Agents” with a bouncy keyboard loop that sets the perfect
backdrop for Dilated Peoples and Cali Agents to join forces. He also
finds form on the Defari-assisted Old
Timer Thoughts, where Planet Asia sounds
as sharp as ever, rapping, “Feelin’
trapped here taking off from where Adam bit the apple/A parable that I don’t
believe in/My tongue is a blade to strike a heathen, I’m leaving demons in the
cipher bleeding.

P.A. stays strong over the triumphant
horns and eerie strings of “Stick & Move.” He bullies the beat with great
presence and warns “There ain’t a squad
that I can’t run through/I’m a motorcycle, nigga you a Mongoose
.” Prodigy of Mobb Deep gets in on the action with his own tough talk. The H.N.I.C. boasts in his signature
intimidating tone, “Since they put them
fullies back on the streets, we give the U.N. Army a run for they money/ Your G
is old like Calico, kiko/My game like PS3 and satellite radio.

the bright spots of The Medicine
aren’t enough to conquer the dim. Planet
is clearly a talented emcee, but his gift is often lost on poor
musical backing. And on more than one occasion that he does receive a decent
beat, he wastes it with predictable content. From the standard ladies track “In
Love” to the “save the hood” message of “Ghetto’s Thirsty,” he tackles
issues that have already been covered before with much better results. The
album’s dreary production makes the margin of error for emceeing razor thin,
and the pride of Fresno
got cut. He may have promised to deliver medicine, but Planet Asia has offered only a collection of short-term remedies
and placebos.