“Black Belt Theatre” review

Favorite Tracks: “No Apologies” ft. Raekwon, “Fuck Rappers” ft. Willie the Kid and Fashawn, “Mach One”

Worse Tracks: There aren’t really any horrible tracks, but the latter half of the CD loses steam (somewhere among tracks 16-18)

Favorite Single: “Mach One”

Favorite guest Spot: “Diamond Life” ft. Camp-Lo (believe me it was not an easy choice, but due to this collab being so random and still coming out as fiya makes this track an easy winner).

For the past hour or so, I’ve been studying the “Black Belt Theatre” album cover and inquiring about the CD’s namesake in hopes of reaching an answer to this question—what in the hell does martial arts have to do with Planet Asia and his new album?

Well, that’s easy.  Planet Asia’s lyrical style is pure martial arts. Each verse, each lyric, each breath, is like a punch to the throat, or repeated elbows to that ole gnoggin.

He is one of the few emcees that has a prescence through his voice alone, and when you combine Planet Asia’s distinct, gruff, rumbling vocals with his impeccable delivery and clever wordplay, you comeout with one of the most criminally slept on emcees of the past decdade.

Like I’ve said so many times in my other reviews, this is music you’ll have to sniff out. You’ll have to wade past that strong odor of Nikki Minaj manure, etc. And when you come to these flowers, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

Well, now that we skipped all the “sappy mess” get suited up and enter the Black Belt Theatre!  Get ready for Planet Asia to work you out on his tracks!!

This is basically the format of the whole CD—Planet Asia and friends smash and kung-fu kick through tracks provided by various masters of production. On a majority of the tracks, Planet Asia is not alone, but unlike some artists, his company never outshines him. Planet Asia is clearly in his skin here—he is the lyrical master; this is his dojo.

From the opening track, “Grown Folks Talkin,” ft Talib Kweli with a swinging 70′s twang provided by producer DirtyDiggs, it’s clear that Planet Asia and guests are kicking-ass and taking names on this album:

“This is Black Belt, Jim Kelly in the Phantom, Afro shining from sheen, I spit fire to make the track melt, To Make Man and Woman and child bow through, lion and king?, four finger ring, gold chamber ring, try to scheme and get blown to smitherens, out of mind, niggas swine like jimmy dean, and I’ll be damned if you play me like a jelly bean, we the freshest and I put that on everything, get the message, its already evident, like moon crescent with the star and the seven in it, from Planet Rock where Bambada is president, We the heaven sent, so you better get some better shit, to try and penetrate niggas intelligence with, pure heroin, so shut the fuck up when grown folks are talking, like your parents kid!” ~ Planet Asia

Ok, so the lyrics and delivery are on another level, but what about the music production?

I loved the dark, somber, and moody DJ Muggs production on “Pain Language,” but on this CD, Planet Asia chooses to have a whole lot of hands in the jar. Well-known producers like Khrysis and Oh No, lace some of the tightest tracks on this CD, but a majority of the work is handled by DirtDiggs. Just like his namesake, his production is dirty and eeriely akin to DJ Muggs on a few tracks, in particular “Mach One.”

I could go on and on about how great the CD is, but I’d rather you discover it for yourself dear reader. I will say this, for this CD to drop in the beginning of 2012 has left me anxious to see if another album can top it. Planet Asia may not get much airplay from this album, but he has set the bar very high for other artists to top in 2012—based on style, production, and overall feel, this album could be a contender for one of the best albums of the year.

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