So the reviews of the much-hyped Asher Roth album Asleep in the Bread Aisle are streaming out, and the wisdom of crowds appear to be in agreement that the lp is sort of like a nap in the ... huh, what? Oh. Well, they seem to think it's boring.
Primary problem appears to be there's just not enough hot fire to carry an album. I called the single Lark a banger, and everyone likes that beat, with some feeling the flow some not. But after that, I Love College (the song that put him on the map), and "As I Em" (his statement on all the Eminem white-rapper comparisons), there doesn't appear to be much in the way of crowd motivating. A quick roundup:.
Byron Crawford: I was all set to find something to like about this album, just for the sake of being a contrarian, but I couldn't. This isn't a very good album at all. The first half is at least listenable. The second half? Not so much.
Pitchfork: on the single Lark, "To be fair, he can flow (that's what biting Eminem's style will do) but content-wise, it's... nothing. All sandpaper-smooth edges, corny blowjob jokes, and pointless pop culture references, like MF Doom's talentless hack stepchild."
The Rap Up: not as bad, "The album kicks off with a bang but never quite sustains that intensity. Still, there are some magical moments here."
Spin: The single may be a brilliantly dopey confection, but the rest just feels like someone's marketing plan. Lacking the lyrical gymnastics and personality of his mix tapes and freestyles, Roth's debut boasts a laziness that borders on contempt.
To be fair, Loud records founder Steve Rifkind is a spotlighted review on Asher's site The Daily Kush, and he apparently calls it a Top 5 album evar! I'd link it, but it requires all sorts of id/registration to go to the post directly. Pass. Also, Rosh is on Rifkind's label and I have a nagging feeling that's influencing his judgment on the matter. I could be wrong though.
Anyash, it's floating about on the nets now so you can seek and decide for yourself if so inclined. I'm of the mind that Roth may become more interesting if we look at him as an example of what pitchfork mentions in their blurb on him, "That's the feeling of the top-down promotions game, where the guy has industry-generated buzz before he even has a hit single or an audience to speak of."
Asher in his interviews, and live performances transmits a certain authenticity, but there is so much thought obviously put into his artist image/identity that it's not difficult to imagine those grubby corporate fingertips getting too hands-on with the actual work and over-massaging until the album's a generic blob of silly-putty.
And even some of these live bits, look like one of those scenarios where you don't want to hate, but you might feel resistant to how much head-nodding he's doing:
Sucks when dudes get you exercising and sh*t out of joy for their demo, or else make you feel uncomfortable for not gesticulating your enthusiasm with as much force and rah-rah as they. Maybe he is just one of those dudes. Even the informal intimate encounters feel like he's putting the marketing squeeze on for a testimonial.
Cool freestyle, like if your friend's a rapper and just likes to freestyle as you walk to the bar. But you could forget about it after the next facebook status update that comes across your line of vision. And that "come on, guys" is telling ... come on what? do a cartwheel?
In any event, I'm inclined to blame the system, not the man. And if he's got the fire for real he's certainly young enough to survive a little bubble bursting.