Release Date: Apr 21, 2009
Record label: SRC/Universal Motown
What if Eminem pursued a degree in elementary education, popped his collar, and liked his parents? Though comparing an on-the-rise Caucasian rapper to the real Slim Shady may seem hopelessly facile, Asher Roth — the boyish 23-year-old behind the surprise top 10 iTunes hit ”I Love College” — does initially come off like a junior-varsity Marshall Mathers, eerily echoing the 36-year-old superstar’s nasal delivery and back-of-the-classroom cockiness. On this debut album Asleep in the Bread Aisle, Roth fully acknowledges the white elephant in the room with the song ”As I Em,” intoning, ”Because we have the same complexion and similar voice inflection/It’s easy to see the pieces and to reach for that connection…not much that I can say except I’m sick of it. ” In that case, he’s going to be feeling ill for a good while.
Sold as hip-hop's Great White Dope, rapper Asher Roth ("The King of the Blumpkin") came on the scene with the great "I Love College," an infectious slacker anthem as simple as "I love college, I love drinkin', I love women" and with a "Chug! Chug! Chug!" chant in the middle. A hilarious 18-minute freestyle on Tim Westwood's radio show made him all the more lovable, but Asleep in the Bread Isle is an everyday suburban rap album, if there is such a thing. The first problem is the big cut itself, now stripped of its Weezer sample thanks to Rivers Cuomo's reluctance to license the riff to "Say It Ain't So.
Eminem's shadow falls on any white MC, especially those rapping in a high register. Deciding that what can't be avoided should be confronted, Asher Roth admits the influence while outlining the differences on the witty As I Em. But the rappers' disparity was evident from this album's debut single, the awful I Love College, a tribute to frat-boy parties as far removed from Marshall Mathers's experience as life on a trailer park would be to the suburban Roth.
Given the excitement surrounding Eminem's imminent return, it's easy to forget that his rise was not greeted with untrammelled delight by the hip-hop community. Indeed, some suggested his success might effectively signal the end of hip-hop as we know it. Once the music industry found a million-selling white rapper, it was bound to search out others and promote them at the expense of their black counterparts.
Review Summary: Less taste and texture than Wonderbread - continuously outshined by guest appearances and production.Mario Kart, munchies, Madden, suburbs, Sublime-posturing, pre-pubescent socio-political musings… Asleep in the Bread Aisle has all the ingredients for anthemic frat-party bro-hop. Raised in the suburbs (the far-outlying suburbs to be precise) of Philadelphia, Asher Roth paints a picture one would expect from homogeneous experiences and a biblically allusive name. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially when delving into the metaphysical or even the mildly interesting.
This album has doom written all over it. The fact that Pennsylvania fratboy Asher Roth was discovered through MySpace should send shivers up your spine alone. Thankfully, this pasty, womanizing, privileged party boy has a little more talent than that “Chocolate Rain” dude. Yep, if you get enough virtual friends, the majors may one day drove up to your front door with a garbage truck full of cash advance and a list of label contacts.
Y'all act like you've never seen a white person before. And yet, here we are, a decade removed from The Slim Shady LP and before even selling one record, MC Asher Roth has generated opinions so ingrained one way or the other that for all intents and purposes, his debut album, Asleep in the Bread Aisle, might as well be a blank disc. There are those who celebrate the chance that any new artist becomes able to move units, even if he's being marketed to white, affluent hip-hop buyers seeking to relate to a rapper in a completely non-allegorical sense.