Planet Asia

Pt. 1: The Sickness

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Part of a planned trilogy, Pt. 1: The Sickness is spotty enough to suggest that the three albums would best have been fused into one, although the good stuff here is among the best of Planet Asia's lengthy career. The highlight of the entire album is "Time After Time," which fuses a Kanye West-like orchestral loop to guest rapper Moka's thoughtful rap that takes in a wide view of hip-hop history, looking nostalgically back at the more optimistic days of positive, Native Tongues-style rap, name-checking the Afrocentric politics of the too-often-forgotten Brand Nubian in particular. There's a little more depth to "Time After Time" than there is to the cartoonish gangsta pose of "I'm So High Freestyle." However, even some of the more lyrically slight tunes are helped by cool production choices like the jittery vintage synths underpinning "Gold Chain General." Judiciously trimmed, Pt. 1: The Sickness would be improved considerably.

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