REVIEW| PLANET ASIA (@planetasia) + KLASHNEKOFF (@Klashnekoff) + JAM BAXTER + MANIK MC LIVE @THEJAZZCAFE

papEmer­ging in the 90s, dur­ing a con­ges­ted and highly com­pet­it­ive era of unre­lent­ing qual­ity, Plan­et Asia has achieved the longev­ity that so many of his peers have struggled with.  The Fres­no, Cali­for­nia nat­ive has argu­ably refined his skills and seems to be improv­ing with age, with his rap­idly expand­ing cata­logue a test­a­ment to his work eth­ic and ded­ic­a­tion to his craft.

Of course one of the stand-out traits of 90s emcees, par­tic­u­larly those rooted in the fiercely, almost-mil­it­ant depths of the West Coast under­ground scene, was their abil­ity to rock live shows. With crews like Hiero­glyph­ics and Liv­ing Legends rolling deep and clas­sic open mic ven­ues like the Good Life Café pulling in the finest loc­al tal­ent the scene was one of innov­a­tion and out­stand­ing tech­nic­al abil­ity.  Artists had to dis­play their cre­den­tials on stage and on wax and Plan­et Asia is clearly the pro­duct of an emcee who has had to struggle and grind for everything he’s achieved.  It even landed him a deal with Inter­scope in the early 2000s but his career has been best served when he’s had the cre­at­ive freedom of inde­pend­ent labels.

His appear­ance in Lon­don was an oppor­tun­ity not to be missed and with Jam Bax­ter, Manik MC and heavy­weight UK legend Klashenekoff also on the line-up this prom­ised to be a mem­or­able show.  Manik MC did a good job of warm­ing up the early-birds and Jam Bax­ter kept the momentum going, invit­ing Dabbla on stage for a small cameo and enga­ging the crowd with an ener­get­ic dis­play.

Then there was a wait.  A long wait.  And if there was a low point of the night it was that Klash­nekoff nev­er per­formed, which will no doubt have dis­ap­poin­ted the crowd, many of whom will have been look­ing for­ward to his per­form­ance argu­ably more so than Plan­et Asia.  His legendary releases in the early 2000s set him apart from the rest of the UK rap­pers at the time and a chance to relive those undeni­able clas­sics in live form was eagerly anti­cip­ated and there­fore dis­ap­point­ing when he nev­er graced the intim­ate stage.

How­ever, in such situ­ations what you need is an artist with the exper­i­ence, pas­sion and energy to com­pletely dom­in­ate a show and Plan­et Asia did this right from the moment he stepped on stage.  Smash­ing his way through songs through­out his great cata­logue he had an out­stand­ing stage pres­ence, bril­liant crowd inter­ac­tion and a slick, pre­cise deliv­ery.  His music is so densely lyr­ic­al and layered but such is his level of tech­nic­al bril­liance that all his efforts went into enga­ging the crowd.

The stage wasn’t even enough for him and he found him­self huddled among the crowd on sev­er­al occa­sions, spread­ing his energy across the room.  Tak­ing con­trol of the decks and switch­ing the cross-fader between an old school sample and drop­ping rhymes accapel­la was impress­ive but his off-the-cuff free­style to close out the show was the sign of an artist able to bril­liantly com­bine tech­nic­al skill with just hav­ing a great time.  Nobody in that room had a bet­ter night than he did and this gen­er­a­tion of Sound­cloud rap­pers would do well to study an artist like PA who con­tin­ues to excel on every level.

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Alex Gordon

Alex Gordon

Between 9–5 I’m a pas­sion­ate teach­er for teen­agers with spe­cial needs and dis­en­gaged young people. From 5–9 I’m a left-wing hip-hop head who fell in love with the music in the mid-90’s. Also have an equal love for jazz, soul and funk, am an avid record col­lect­or, lov­er of live shows and occa­sion­al DJ.

About Alex Gordon

Alex Gordon
Between 9-5 I'm a passionate teacher for teenagers with special needs and disengaged young people. From 5-9 I'm a left-wing hip-hop head who fell in love with the music in the mid-90’s. Also have an equal love for jazz, soul and funk, am an avid record collector, lover of live shows and occasional DJ.