It is truly a White mans world, but White artists are largely unrepresented as rappers in Hip-Hop. Sure there were acts like the Beastie Boys and 3rd Base, but that was the 80's and early 90's. A scrawny Detroit MC emerged in 1998 with a dirty mouth and a knack for tongue-twisting wordplay shattered the Vanilla Ice stigma with his controversial bars and the chart topping albums that soon followed. Eminem changed the game; or did he? In the 11 years since Ems entrance not one light-skinned wordsmith has achieved mainstream success. Enter Asher Roth, another scrawny White rapper with a vocal quality close to that of his multi-platinum forerunner. Despite a likeness in voice and skin tone, Asher manages to create his own lane with his debut, Asleep in the Bread Aisle.
The album begins with the neck-breaking thumper Lark On My Go-Kart. Asher rides the break-beat and guitar-laden banger flawlessly putting naysayers on blast with his clever wordplay. Me and Teddy Ruxpin stirring up a ruckus/ egging all the houses, smashing all the pumpkins/ Suck a d**k, butt kiss Regardless of the clear Slim Shady influence, the display is impressive and sets the tone for other lyrical onslaughts like the album highlight Sour Patch Kids.
Asher wins again with the summer-ready Be By Myself featuring the incredibly consistent Gnarles Barkley front man and Goodie Mob veteran Cee-Lo. The songs PG-13 feel gives it a fun rock n roll vibe prevalent in the album. It is when this mood takes a turn for the cheesy that Asher begins to slip up. Songs like the laughable Blunt Crusin', the Jazze Pha check chaser Bad Day and the unlistenable She Dont Wanna Man are amateur concepts that seem more like bullet points in the Asher Roth college marketing scheme rather than songs on a debut album. Asher regains his artistry with the surprisingly soulful His Dream on-which he weaves a story of a father giving up own his own aspirations so that his child can realize his.
Musically, Asleep in the Bread Aisle pushes boundaries with its rock-inspired production. Lyrically, there is no question that Asher Roth can rap. While the vocal similarities to his legendary pale predecessor are blatant and at times distracting, content-wise, Asher is quite different. While far from the classic project those close to the process were touting it, Asleep in the Bread Aisle is an admirable debut from a talented young artist searching for his own voice. No pun intended.