Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Album Review: Asher Roth - Asleep In The Bread Aisle

Before I listened to one second of this album, I half-expected to rip it to pieces in a review. Asher’s mixtapes showed promise, but once he served up the track that college kids pounding Beast Light will be loving for the next decade, it was tough to take him seriously. Not that you expect more from that track - it is what it is, and he successfully roped in 90% of sorority females from coast to coast. But after that, you gotta ask yourself: "What does this kid from the Philly burbs really have to rap about?” On to the highs and lows.


Considering Asher was backed by DJ Cannon on the Greenhouse Effect mixtape, it’s surprising that Cannon supplies this album with only one track. He didn‘t short Asher though; that one track, entitled La Di Da, is an anthem-like banger. Cannon absolutely kills it with a distorted, wah-wah guitar sample, piano accompaniment, and strong, echoed percussion. Roth’s lyrics are good, his flow is solid, and the perseverance theme is memorable.

Another dope track is the album’s second single, Be By Myself, which features the incomparable Cee-Lo and is produced by Oren Yoel (who is behind most of the work on the album). Yoel seems to love guitar and organ samples, as over the half the beats on the album feature them, and this is one of the best he puts forth. Cee-Lo is only on the hook, but there are few people better at providing the soulful energy he’s perfected during his decorated career.

Other highlights include the Yoel-produced His Dream, a slower, somber track with mellow keys and strings (similar to Common’s A Song For Assata), a feel-good, ode to hip-hop track produced by Nottz & Novel entitled Fallin‘, and two ITunes bonus tracks: Perfectionist and The Lounge. Perfectionist employs the hardest beat Yoel brought to the project, and features Beanie Sigel, who absolutely murders it. Listen to it here, and tell me how it didn’t make the album, because I have no idea. The Lounge, produced by Novel, features a nice jazz piano sample, and Roth questions rapper stereotypes in with creativity.


Everyone knew when they first heard Roth that he’d be compared to Eminem. Asher devotes an entire song to this topic, entitled As I Em, in which he both praises Slim for paving the way and speaks about the struggles of making his own name. Ultimately, though, this track is unnecessary. Roth might feel the need to speak on the comparison, but an entire song on his debut album isn’t the place. I can't help but think he would have been better off just killing on the mic, and letting his skills and eventual body of work distinguish him. The track just sounds like whining, and in the end, no one needs to hear about the plight of a middle-class suburban rapper.

The second track, Blunt Cruisin’, is a complete waste of time. If you’re gonna make a track about chronic, it has to be funny, or it has to bump (Redman has perfected this). This track does neither, and as a result, it’s hot, steaming garbage.

Another failure is She Don’t Wanna Man, featuring Keri Hilson. I don’t even want to waste words on it. Don’t listen to it. Ever.


What sticks out the most is this; I can’t remember listening to an album with so much variation in track quality. To be sure, there are some really good songs on this album, and if the bonus tracks were included, the majority of the work would be impressive. But the tracklist offsets the highs with horrendous lows. To his credit, Asher does show more substance than you’d expect from the author of I Love College, and he shows that he can be an artist as opposed to a gimmick. Look for a second effort that’s more well-rounded.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

- JB

No comments:

Post a Comment