Asher Roth fell asleep in the….
There is an old joke that went something like this: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” and the person replies, “practice”. That joke doesn’t really have much truth in todays music world. The answer now would be “a publicist”. That is basically Asher Roth’s success story. I mean, the “Greenhouse Effect” mixtape was hot, but it’s hard to sound bad rapping over great radio songs….and composing one funny and playful single (as Snow could tell you) just takes a bit of luck. But getting on the front cover of magazines and MTV and Hot97 should take a bit more than that, but it definitely doesn’t.
I saw Asher open up for Matisyahu this past Channukah, and first I was surprised that the boobs and weed rapper would be invited to share the same stage as Matis, but we all know that record labels and big management make those decisions. But then I was surprised by how boring his live set was. It was him, a drummer and a DJ. So, naturally one would think the melody would be the DJs job since the drummer didnt have a lap-steel guitar or synth next to his kit. Well, the DJ didn’t really lay down any music besides the single “I Love College”. So it was Asher rapping over a drummer. That’s more like a fun ”the band didn’t show up yet” type of thing more than an “opening up for Matisyahu” type of thing. I left hopeful though, thinking, “ok, so his live show was weak, but his album will probably be strong.”
I clicked play on the iPod as I drove around Brooklyn waiting for some melody this time around, but still heard mostly drums. As it kicked in there were songs like “She Don’t Want a Man” which sounds like ‘Kanye/Eminem/Jay-ZandBeyonce’ did a track- too many sounds and styles to feel really cohesive. The classic example of how ridiculous he is in his song, “Sour Patch Kids,” where he strings together a slew of cliches in an Edan like spit fire rhyme. The chorus, “take me away….take me away from here” sounds like a pinched Will.i.Am ballad. The verse is just hilarious when you think about how he is rapping about;
“my people crying, and dying, while they be dining in the house, drinking wine with their wives like everything is fine,
denying that they fightin for the their lives, every night to survive since the beginning of time…
can’t believe the evil that feeds off this so called American dream…American’s seem like blood-sucking money hungry fiends
but money doesn’t mean a damn thing to me”.
This coming from the “all i do is rap about weed and girls and college and being rich and famous” guy. The whole record just feels so manufactured. Like the label said, “ok Asher now we want you to do a serious political song.” The other hilarious moment of the album is when he raps about how rich and famous he is…mind you that he was rapping this on his FIRST record, before anyone heard it. This means that he is rapping about how awesome it is to know that he is going to be rich and famous from making this album regardless of how the song comes out since the label already told him he will be rich and famous.
There has been a million one-hit wonders and there will be a million more. Maybe if Asher Roth loves college so much he’ll stick around and hopefully his sophomore album will be better. For now, every time I think about his introductory mixtape, I think how dope it was and when I think of “Asleep in the Bread Aisle” I realize that it isn’t just the title of his first record, but really, its an appropriate metaphor for what his role must have been like while putting together this major label concoction- unconscious and all about the money.
– Guy Emanuel