“I’m just a kid who wants to rap to make a living,” declares Asher Roth on his breakout CD, Asleep in the Bread Aisle, summing up his purpose for entering the highly-saturated hip-hop game, while doing his best to play down the Marshall ‘Eminem’ Mathers comparisons. Not so fast, mister. Roth may have his own I’ve-been-on-the-grind backstory and his own truck load of personal issues, but his vocal inflections are frightening similar to that other Caucasian rapper. Roth, however, lays off the sleaze, using his 12-track CD to tackle education, haters, sex, and women at the club instead.
Still, while the 23-year-old new artist, already hailed as ‘one to watch’ by Rolling Stone, is a fast-rising rap phenomenon, he is just a kid who wants to have fun and he’s not afraid to let it show (case in point: the derisive lead single “I Love College”). In many respects, his much buzzed-about album lacks adequate gravity and seriousness but Roth possesses some serious rhyming skills. Over some kinetic, clubhouse beats, his sound fuses hip-hop, rap, electro, and rock 'n' roll for a quick and engaging listen.
At his best, his flow and storytelling are captivating on cuts like “His Dream” and “Fallin’”, on which he maps his journey from being a wannabe emcee to finally living his dream. On “As I Em” he takes on his critics and detractors, and ignores the haters on “La Di Da”. A cast of off-the-radar producers and a sturdy roster of collaborators show up to lend support, including Jazze Pha (“Bad Day”), Busta Rhymes (“Lion’s Roar”), Cee-Lo Green (“Be By Myself”), Keri Hilson (“She Don’t Wanna Man”) and fellow newcomer Chester French (“As I Em”).
Roth does not possess the swagger or go as hard as most in the material-obsessed real of mainstream rap, a house overrun with African-American arrogance. But for a white dude, a ‘freshman’ at that, he does enough on Asleep in the Bread Aisle to leave a solid impression. Roth deserves the benefit of the doubt.
DOWNLOAD: “Fallin”, “His Dream”, “As I Em” and “I Love College”