For all the shit that's he's put out in the last few years, not to mention recently, Eminem used to be pretty good. I recall more than a few songs on his first three albums that were downright funny and dare I say, great. Also, and perhaps more importantly, Em was very funny when he wanted to be. I remember a time when Eminem would drop a song that would have you and your friends screaming and laughing, shocked by the audacity of the lines he was spitting, and the way he was saying them. Currently, he's dropping some hideous comeback crap, chock full of dated references and if the new leaked track is to be believed, sad horrorcore throwbacks. Which brings me to Asher Roth, the current new fresh kid to ape and take advantage of the Eminem style. You might have heard his terrible "I Love College" song. What is remarkable about this guy is that he has all these Eminem comparison's without actually having any of Eminem's most important characteristics, humor, self awareness, and ability.
Asher Roth is a bad rapper. Slow and clunky, the lines in "I Love College" flow like a broken conveyer belt at Fed Ex. Lines don't necessarily rhyme, and it's all completely witless. Which I guess is fine for an attention getting, audience pandering first single. To make sure I was justified in disliking this guy, I sat down with his album, Asleep In The Bread Aisle. Woof, my friends, woof. Asher Roth hasn't a thing to say. While much has been made of his middle class upbringing, his lack of personal strife and conflict is both boring and offputing. "Bad Day" sounds like a bad comedian riffing(and whiffing) about riding coach in a plane, with the HI-larious punchline, "I forgot my iPod." Certainly all in jest, but also not that funny. If this were just one jokey song amongst some hard hitting material, I'd shut up right now and lay praise and hosannas. But it's just one of many.
"Lark In A Go-Kart" is a bad Family Guy episode in lyrical form, with as many pop culture references as Roth can spit at a time, which isn't that many, since he's such a slow rapper. Listening to Asleep In The Bread Aisle, I felt a little bad for anyone going to college who will most likely be subjected to this relentlessly during their freshman year. My freshman year, I had to contend with the first Nelly album and Lil Kim's "How Many Licks?". Yes, I lucked out. "Ride Wit Me" is actually pretty great. Asher Roth should be so lucky to make anything as catchy and fun as "Ride Wit Me" or anything on Eminem's most acclaimed discs.
The laziness is the most striking aspect of Roth. At one point on Asleep… Roth devotes an entire track to defending himself against Eminem comparisons. You wish, man! I should put out a terrible record and devote a track to telling everybody to stop comparing me to Jay-Z. What do I have in comparison to Jay-Z? About the same amount of things Asher Roth does with Eminem. On Eminem's first album he killed his wife and disposed of the body with his kid! Em convinced Dr. Dre to shoot a guy in the face. Asher Roth rides around stoned and meets a girl who "just wants to dance." Asher Roth wants to Pacino to Brando's Godfather, but he's more AJ Soprano to Gandolfini's Tony. A young imitator with all the chances and none of the ability.
The line being thrown around is that when Roth's low sales are announced next week, it won't be because people heard the album sucked, it'll be because it "undershipped", which must be the "dog ate my homework" for the underperforming artist. My advice to the record companies looking for their next great white rapper, find a guy with flow who actually gives a shit. And make sure he's actually funny, not "remember Saved By The Bell" funny.