Named after a 1980s Saturday-afternoon TV show and inspired by Planet Asia’s favorite films, Black Belt Theatre combines the violent precision of classic kung-fu flicks with the calculated cool of classic blaxploitation movies. “I wanted to make the album like a movie, something you would see in a theater,” says Asia. “That’s why it has so many features. All the guests feel like different characters in the movie.” These guests include veterans like Raekwon, Talib Kweli, Paul Wall, Ras Kass, Camp Lo, and Strong Arm Steady, as well as newcomers like Fashawn, Willie The Kid, Torae, and Nio Tha Gift. “They’re basically just all people I thought were dope,” says Asia. “Both young cats I’m feeling and veterans I’ve always admired.” Unlike on his albums with Evidence and DJ Muggs, Asia also got to determine the sonic direction on Black Belt Theatre, resulting in a soul-heavy, blaxploitation-influenced sound. “It was fun because I got to reach out to guys like Oh No and Khrysis for beats, find the best tracks and put together a masterpiece,” explains Asia. “It’s some esoteric gangster shit…a full plate for the listener.”…
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