Review Summary: Don't hate, drink!
The most recent Music Television craze, Asher Roth, is a college dropout who enjoyed the hedonistic side of the University atmosphere before leaving to apparently pursue a profitable hip-hop career. A large portion of America’s youth can easily relate to this fella, sharing a similar apathetic attitude towards schoolwork and an infatuation with optimistic rap. So, does this mean that Asher is an artist who caters specifically to one side of the hip-hop spectrum? Nope, but is his craft entirely perfected on either side? Well, one for certain, and if you’ve heard the infectious singles “I Love College” and “Lark on my Go-Kart” I’m sure you can decide for yourself which. But what I hear in Asher is much more than party sounds – his ambition to be a lyrical rapper is extremely evident, especially on this album. Combining business and pleasure, Asher Roth has created a promising debut that leaves much to be desired, however I’m certain our desires will be satisfied in the near future.
The album’s first three tracks are argumentative ammunition as to why Asher isn’t as deep as the popular media makes him out to be. “Lark on my Go-Kart”, a totally random collection of punch-lines, “Blunt Cruisin’”, a weed-smoking anthem to be played while boxing out your car, and finally “I Love College” the favorite of naysayers – it is an extremely generic party rant by a pseudo-collegiate who loves drinking more than he ever did learning (with a thumpin’ ass beat, of course.) These tracks are hardly examples of Asher’s peak lyrical ability. To say that Asher is overrated would be correct, as I’ve heard on many instances that he’s the “best coming up” and “soon to be the world’s greatest”. But to say he isn’t skilled is ignorant if you’ve listened to this entire album. There are lazy one-liners and nonsensical blabbering, accompanied by emotional story-telling and uplifting nostalgic rhymes. As a person who puts partying on a higher pedestal than education (for himself, of course) half of his rhymes are pretty great.
He's always wanted to write, that's all he's wanted in life
With two daughters, a son, and a remarkable wife
He's in a bind, he has to provide
A family is relying on a Milli to survive
His father died at 56, so he's well aware how vital a father figure is
How big of a responsibility it is
To be a good husband and care for your kids
Asher’s most obvious rap talent is his flow and delivery. He doesn’t merely speak over a beat with an aggressive voice like a lot of rappers from his area do (I’m not singling out Philly on this as a whole,) he compliments his production. Some say his flow is lazy, but for a lot of rappers that is a style that requires practice just like anything else. There is lazy flow (recent Lil’ Wayne for example,) and then there is “chill” or laid-back flow. Asher partakes in marijuana smoking, and admits to his intoxication on many of his songs, so naturally he would be quite relaxed while delivering his performance. But weed isn’t the only trick he’s got up his sleeves.
Featuring up-and coming producer Oren Yoel, Don Cannon, and others, “Asleep In The Bread Aisle” is instrumentally potent. Adding much to the relaxed atmosphere of Asher Roth, these beats are reflective of Asher’s attitude. They include far more than your typical mainstream bass/clap formula, utilizing guitars, horns, live drums, keyboards, strings, and more. Hooks provided by talented singers (the hook is especially impressive on the track “His Dream”, a song about Asher’s father) including Miguel, Keri Hilson, duo Chester French, and internationally known mainstream producer/singer Jazze Pha (Phizzle!) These are the kind of beats that make a rapper want to sit down and write something. I would definitely listen to an entirely instrumental version of "Asleep In The Bread Aisle" - the production is great by itself and welcomes with open arms a rapper or any kind of vocalist, really. A lot of the time in hip-hop beats are very minimalistic and expect more work out of the vocal performer, but this isn't the case here. You could say Asher caught a break by having such great musical accompaniments - but his work on this album shouldn't go unnoticed, and I'm not just referring to the lyrics.
Asher Roth embodies the mindset of a young, party-going American. His music is biographical, happy, full of hometown stories, and fresh. I think it’s a wonderful thing that a white rapper is getting exposure because of his lyrics (whether about College or not,) myself being a white dude who is also artistically involved in this genre. He isn’t as controversial as Eminem, and he isn’t as gangsta as Cassidy, however he doesn’t need to be – just a poet with something to say. If you listen to this album expecting a tidal wave of inventive lyrics, you will be disappointed. If you listen expecting a slew of ignorant tracks that serve no purpose aside from dancing, you will also be let down. Asher Roth is a budding talent with a lot of love to go around, and his music is full of that glorious feeling. You can tell when a musician truly feels unconditional love for his art, especially if that musician is a vocalist. Borderline alcoholic and frequent toker Asher Roth is about to shake up the mainstream rap game, I guarantee it. I’d recommended “Asleep In The Bread Aisle” to a casual rap fan, a hardcore rap fan, and a fan of lyrical pop music.