by Rachel Swan
Lest you think no backpacker emcee would dare swap metaphors for rap battles, stickups, and sexual conquests, or fixate on the size of his nuts, meet the Bay's own Planet Asia. Known as a freestyle kingpin, this guy's got a "fuck you, pay me" approach to the rap game, which comes to the fore in his latest, The Medicine -- an album that combines flowery underground beats (courtesy of Dilated Peoples emcee/producer Evidence) with raps that err on the thuggish end of the hip-hop spectrum. Asia's long been on the verge of national stardom, and rarely bothers to hide his commercial pretensions. Still, the emcee's infectious. He's got a knack for coming up with lines you'd like to claim as your own, like the cute Freudian slip he uses to charm R&B vocalist Jonell on "In Love with You": I'd like to take you out and eat ya / I mean take ya out ta eat and teach ya. Though Asia's highly stylized rap persona usually surpasses the substantive content of his lyrics, The Medicine is nonetheless a likeable, addictive album. It's worth checking out if you're an underground head with a sweet tooth for badasss caricature. Stream "Thick Ropes" or check out the video at YouTube.