Saturday, April 25, 2009
Asher Roth- Asleep in the Bread Aisle
Look y'all, I ain't gonna try and claim I know more about hip hop than ANY of my cohorts over at Passion Weiss, but my boy Jonathan's post covers it all. Check it out here. Seriously, click this link. You'll learn something.
Anyway, this record, in my opinion is both fun and pedestrian. And odd assessment, I know, so let me explain: while I love a good hook (and for the record, hip hop is ALWAYS about the rhythm for me first, emcee second), this record really doesn't really forge any new ground. Lyrically, I've heard my brother spit better rhymes off the top of his head, while wasted. Nuff said. Rhythmically? It's a tough sell. More than half the tracks are catchy, but then again, so was The Lonely Island's Incredibad.
Mind you, I can't entirely hate on this record. Roth is trying doing a good thing here, and that's commendable, if nothing else. He's created a record that may open up the world of "lesser known hip-hop" to more heads by making something so accessible that even my mother could enjoy it. He knows his shit, too. And rightly so for a man who claims that early-era hip hop didn't really get his motor running. Not sure what to make of that one honestly. If you ask me, I'd say 6 or 7 of the best hip hop records ever released came when the genre was but a puppy dog in the realm of aging bloodhounds. Roth, along with virtually anything today seems to just hearken back to the days when emcees had a loop so fierce, they couldn't help but put rhymes over it (I know I'll catch heat for that one, again, not really knowing 10% of the hip hop world my counterparts do). After all, that was the only way said instrumental was going to see a release. And when it boils down to it, whether it be your favorite emcee or an unknown, you know a song by the first notes you hear: virtually void of lyrics and laden with rhythm.
Anyway, I've delved too deep even for myself here, so I'll give it a rest. But I will say this: my love of music, and my knowledge of music theory stems from rhythm. I was trained on piano, taught myself guitar, bass, voice, french horn, transposition, composition and modified arrangement. The only reason I mention that, of course, is to clearly identify that I do know music as a form, and I know it quite well. Whatever genre you may be into, it's always the certain inherent things about good music that keep you coming back. If the rhythm doesn't deliver after 16 bars, call it a lost cause out of the gate. If the rhythm does deliver, but the melody wanes, cut your losses. If after all the instrumentation is done, you land on a lyricist so mundane that it makes Dan Brown look interesting, turn the shit off.
Otherwise, enjoy the second coming of mainstream hip hop, and what it will do for the lesser known (and more talented) veterans of the game who have been making records all along, you've just been missing the ride.