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Bob Dylan once said, “the times are a changing,’” and for the music business that couldn’t be more true.  With music becoming more accessible, it would only be natural for the expansion of different market bases.  With more people buying different kinds of music from different mediums, purchases will more than likely reflect the listener’s personal tastes.  This is relevant when it comes to Asher Roth.  Hailing from Morrisville, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia, Asher Roth led the life of the average suburban kid, one of a beer drinking, marijuana smoking slacker.  So it would only be fitting that the main focus of his music would be made for that audience.  Such is the case of Asleep in the Bread Aisle, a brilliant, but maybe too well niched manifesto of the All-American slacker.

There are many things that make this LP exceptional.  For one, the niche marketing for this project is highly impressive.  With the subject matter and his persona culminated with the marketing of artist primarily over the internet, from the very roots from which he began, was ingenious.  This is clearly seen on the lead single, the frat boy anthem “I Love College.”  On this track, Roth manages to visualize the college experience in the version of a wild night to some, but a normal one for him that involves his favorite past time, partying with friends, exemplified by that infectious hook we’ve all heard over and over again. Secondly, by primarily enlisting newcomer Oren Yoel with production responsibilities, Asleep in the Bread Aisle truly relates to its audience while blending well with the artist, mainly due to its heavy use of guitar riffs and distortion, something that is not seen that often in hip-hop.  This album also manages to show the diversity of subject matter while displaying Asher Roth’s lyrical skill.  On “La Di Da” a song about the pressures of trying to make it in the music industry and how to deal with it, Roth spits, “Every second is a blessing/Yes, it is precious, suggest you can all instant message/The impression when you’re finding your direction/ Then heading non-stop just to find that the road was blocked/You wanna pop/Flip your lid and stomp/But settle down and work it out is really all you got…”

Roth also manages to showcase his story telling ability with “His Story” in which he discusses the life and lost ambitions of a middle aged man and how he sees those dreams in his own children, all the while trying to keep his family and his own life together.  The album’s true highlight comes when Asher deals with an issue that he is surely going to have to deal with, the constant comparisons to Eminem.  He seems to deal with it well with the track “As I Em” featuring Chester French by stating, “And now the masses think that Asher wants to be a Marshall Matthers/They say, ‘Asher is not a rapper, nah, his ass is just an actor’/Cause we have the same complexion and a similar voice inflection/It’s easy to see the pieces and the reach for that connection…” possibly not alleviating the unwanted comparisons, but hopefully to make them less frequent.  But the special gift of the album is the fact that Asher Roth comes off as truly himself, not trying be anything more or less.  By someone who does not come from money or a fast life and is not trying to portray that life for the sake of selling albums, this brings a sense of humility or commonness to the album and a breath of fresh air to the world of hip–hop.

The only issue with this album is that it might be too niche.  Basically, an album should appear to its base, but have the ability to appeal to those outside of it.  This mainly comes with the production, but maybe if two songs had been incorporated with some more traditional hip-hop elements then it would be just that more complete.  Overall, Asleep in the Bread Aisle is a great experience in suburbia told through the eyes of a slacker, humbly expressed and fundamentally excellent. – RH

  Mixtape D.L.
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