Do Remember: Cali Agents’ (Planet Asia & Rasco) Crash The Boards (Audio)
Low key, one of the stronger groups of the Underground Hip-Hop glory years are touring together this summer—and we don’t even mean Jurassic 5 (who is also doing a set of dates). The Cali Agents are celebrating the 15th anniversary of How The West Was Won, with a series of national dates. Planet Asia and Rasco have remained close in those 15 years, but especially since 2006’s third LP, Fire & Ice, attentions have appeared focused on solo works, and other groups (Durag Dynasty, Gold Chain Military Crew, etc.)
Released on Ground Control Records/Nu Gruv Alliance, How The West Was Won was a left-field album from two emerging voices in the North and Central California scene. Upon the June 13, 2000 release, P.A. had two EPs. Meanwhile, Rasco had been a low-profile emerging voice for Peanut Butter Wolf’s Stones Throw Records on his own debut LP, 1998’s Time Waits For No Man.
Both independent MCs, the Cali Agents were a “divide and conquer” approach to getting on. Both deadpan, hard-nosed lyricists, this pair from San Francisco and Fresno mined gold out of an LP that featured production from Madlib, Molemen, M-Boogie, and oft-overlooked producer/affiliate 427.
“Crash The Boards” was a fan favorite within the confident display of bars and beats. Using sports metaphors, and some supreme bravado, this album cut and 12″ was part Follow The Leader-era Eric B. & Rakim, part Sun Rises In The East-era Jeru The Damaja, but fresh for the 2000s, spraying pesticide on the suckers. Popular DJ M-Boogie arranged a drum and scratch composition that was peppy, energized, and sounded not unlike the more minimalist works of Pete Rock and DJ Premier. Rasco and Planet Asia ran up the court quickly and verbally dominated the paint, owning the rebounds (passing the mic back and forth).
The two follow-up Cali Agents albums were notable with fans, but live in the shadow of How The West Was Won. This album was a critical entry in new blood from the Bay. While Hieroglyphics, Living Legends, and Invisibl Skratch Piklz were integral big brothers to the movement, these cocky MCs had something to prove—for every DJ, compilation, and message board user who was sleeping.
With the work done on the LP, P.A. would catch a short-lived, largely fruitless Interscope Records deal. Rasco would go on to work with Linkin Park and Peter Gabriel (yeah, “Big Time” Peter Gabriel). Fifteen years later, Do Remember “Crash The Boards” and celebrate the Agents, on the road with Durag Dynasty, The Replacement Killers, and Lyric Jones. Some incredibly special guests (Ras Kass, Suga Free, Moka Only, Copywrite, and Necro are joining some of the sets too). Visit the MC’s Facebook pages for more info.
Here are the tour dates:
6/5 The Stonehouse-Nevada City, CA
6/6 Jambalaya-Arcata, CA
6/7 Rubens Cantina-Reno, NV
6/10 Harlow’s- Sacramento, CA
6/11 Shadow Lounge-Oakland, CA
6/12 Fulton 55-Fresno, CA
6/13 Rogue Bar-Scottsdale-AZ
6/14 The Beauty Bar-Las Vegas, NV
6/15 The Flycatcher-Tucson, AZ
6/16 The Mesa Music Hall-El Paso, TX
6/17 Holy Mountain-Austin, TX
6/18 Alley Kat-Houston, TX
6/20 Vinyl-Atlanta, GA
6/21 Asheville Music Hall-Asheville, NC
6/24 Space Bar-Columbus, OH
6/27 The Rusty Nail-Stowe, VT
6/29 Church-Boston, MA
6/30 The Fire-Philadelphia, PA
7/2 Zanzabar-Louisville, KY
7/4 Herman’s Hideaway- Denver, CO
7/11 West Coast Oil Spil Festival w/Suga Free/Ras Kass Venue TBD-Los Angeles, CA
#BonusBeat: With the news, Cali Agents dropped a new video, for 2000’s “This Is My Life”: