"One day, I'm gonna say something really impressive." -- Asher Roth
When someone is getting a lot of underground buzz, I like to wait awhile
before listening to them--let them marinate a little and see if they
stay afloat or they're just all hype. As a result, Asher Roth's new mixtape,
which dropped this week, Seared Foie Gras with Quince and Cranberry, is my
first listen to any of his work. ("Foie gras" for the uninitiated like me
literally means "fat liver" and "seared foie gras" is a very expensive
gourmet dish.) I also lumped Roth in with other frat-boy artists who
dropped around the same time, such as Mike Posner and Mayer Hawthorne. When I saw he'd dropped a mixtape named after gourmet food, I figured I
finally had to check him out and see what was up.
Man, am I glad I did.
This thing is real, the rhymes are freestyle quality, it is truly mixed and thankfully there's no host. (How in the heck do you host a mixtape anyway? Drives me insane. But I digress.) When Ash Roth says he's just "trying to take it back to 9-6," you believe it. It isn't just lip service either, especially when he follows it with a line like "Illadelph Half-life, All Eyez had been mixed/Beats Rhymes and Life, Stakes is High ish/ It was written in the Scriptures ATLiens exist/by Ironman and the Dr. Ocatgonacologist."
Oh, and let's get this inevitable Eminem copycat thing out of the way. In my view, while his voice sounds somewhat like Em's, it doesn't have that distinctive Michigan/Midwestern twang to it. There are also no first-degree homicides in his lyrics. But, the best way to judge Roth as challenger is see what the champ has to say. In an XXL magazine interview, Shady said:
"I haven't had a chance to, like, really get into everything, like, really get into what he's about, because I've only heard a couple songs. ....But the couple of songs I've heard, I don't really think he does. You know what I mean? He's doing his own thing. I can respect it, too, because at the end of the day, I think he's dope."--XXL Magazine June '09.
Execution: On point. On point. On point. I had never heard of DJ Wreckineyez before this tape, but I must say he's made an impression on me. It is obvious dude set out to make a sho-nuff mixtape and delivered. His transitions are butter with no hiccups between tracks, and his cuts, blends and scratches are distributed evenly throughout the tape. I never found myself saying "Drop the freaking track already!" after way too many backspins. Wreckineyez uses an eclectic mix of producers on his track choices here, including The RZA, 9th Wonder, Just Blaze, J Dilla, Timbaland and Travis Barker. Because of their distinct sampling styles and beat choices, this is not easy to do. Wreck makes it work, however, which speaks volumes about his ear and mixing skills. I could listen to this all summer easily.
Playlist Choice: The first thing that jumps out at you on this is the Ghostface Killah-obscure titles--"Muddy Swim Trunks," "Rick Smits" (Rick Smits? Love.It.), "Cumbaya"--and his take on Talib Kweli's "Hot Thing," titled "Hot Wangs." From the jump, Asher lets you know he's got lyrical skills, originality, humor and doesn't take himself too seriously. He raps: "I was high on my Best Buy in-store release date/I was fired from Best Buy 2 thou' 8." Some have said Roth could've carried this without the guest appearances and they're right, however the ratio of collabos to solos is perfect, and they are not desperate.
Ohhhhhhh Factor: There are two. The first is "Trash Minutes" produced by J Dilla. The beat is BANGIN, reminiscent of Dr. Dre's "Explosive" or DJ Quik's "Addictive." I'm sure someone will school me on what the sample is, but it doesn't matter. You'll rewind it till the tape pops, trust. The second one is when he drops the Saigon "Baby Come On" beat on "Rick Smits." Both are totally unexpected--try to keep from head-nodding when you hear them come in.
Wish They'd Included: Nothing else.
Net-net: Smooth, bangin', play it in the car, gym, anywhere.
Download This If: You're a mixtape purist, and/or bored with Auto-Tune/ringtone rappers.
Rating: 4 tapes (out of 4)