Emerging 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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