Cali Agents

How the West Was One

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Rasco and Planet Asia, two West Coast MCs who had enjoyed mildly successful and well-respected solo careers, joined forces in 2000 to produce a group much stronger than the sum of its parts. Their individual releases, although technically sound, had been a bit monotonous at times, but as a tag team duo they complement each other perfectly. Rasco plays the part of the grumpy, serious old veteran, scolding those he doesn't approve of, while Planet Asia personifies the younger, wilder side, playing off his partner to include some fun in the mix. Together with a diverse lineup of producers, they create an incredibly simple yet effective sound, combining hard drumbeats with a violin, piano, or guitar sample in a formula heavily influenced by Gang Starr's DJ Premier. Lyrically, the duo tiptoes between pleasing an underground audience highly suspicious of the mainstream and attempting to make a living and enjoy success. Planet Asia sums up the group's approach on "This Is My Life," rhyming, "Not only do we rock fresh gear, but when it comes to hip-hop we're like a breath of fresh air, like yeah!/And just to let y'all side busters know, we rep the underground but still we're out to make dough." Cali Agents craft a surprising debut that strikes a balance between different hip-hop crowds, East and West Coast, underground and above, but manage to maintain their artistic integrity.

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