Asleep In The Bread Aisle
Dubbed ‘The New Eminem’ and ‘the saviour of hip-hop’, the level of hype surrounding Asher Roth is surprising, since he’s the McLovin’ of MCs; a normal, middle-class suburban US kid who’s mad on hip-hop, weed, girls, booze, and parties. Naysayers have tried to jeer about an unarmed white boy doing hip-hop, but it actually doesn’t feel ludicrous at all. We’ve all seen Superbad; we know and like this kind of dude, and by golly we’ll give him a chance. Smartly, Roth has been completely unapologetic about his background, and on the album immediately shoves hip-hop puritans’ faces in his world on ‘Lark On My Go-Kart’, going “Me and Teddy Ruckspin stirring up a ruckus/Egging all the houses, smashing all the pumpkins”. Such ’burbs snapshots are funny, but this is no mere pastiche. The effortlessly cool beats, hooky choruses, and above all, his witty, super-fast flow indicate this skinny blond to be a genuinely talented star.
‘Blunt Cruisin’’ is, yes, about driving around getting high, but check out the way when Roth spots cops, the stoned groove ups its tempo to reflect his paranoia. As with ‘I Love College’, his breakthrough hit, its unashamed celebration of young hedonism just manages to stay on the charming side of frat boy-ness. It all just seems to come so easy for Roth: on ‘La Di Da’ and ‘Fallin’’ he uses his Seinfeld eye for personal quirks to show he’s quite happy about who he is, and wants everyone else to be too. The album closes with ‘YOU’, a nicely weighted song about accepting yourself. “There’s no way around it, you are you” and other such repeated espousals of positivity bring a warmth to the album and further show Roth does, in fact, have a new vision for hip-hop; he wants it to be inclusive. The album pivots on ‘Sour Patch Kids’ as Roth halts the fun for a remarkable diatribe against Capitol Hill, which ends with a call for people to help each other: “It ain’t gonna stop with Obama/To save the world we must start at the bottom”. That may seem gauche, but when you think of the millions of kids who will buy this album and whose feelings it reflects, it suggests the President’s inauguration speech message of collective responsibility may actually be taking hold. So, not just a seriously fun party album but an inspirational one too. Over to you, Eminem…