In case you haven’t heard, the homie Asher Roth has a new mixtape out (The Greenhouse Effect, Vol. 2). Seeing as he kindly asked us to give it a few spins, we kindly obliged him. Review time!
These days, it seems every caucasian male that picks up the mic and spits something decent is caricatured – rather unfairly, most of the time – as a Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem) carbon copy. Asher Roth certainly caught that kind of flak when he burst onto the scene with his popular mixtape The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 1, the preceding debut album Asleep In The Bread Aisle, and a coveted spot on XXL’s Freshmen list. Truth is: Asher Roth has always been able to spit bars and having listened to The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 2, I’ve come away believing that he’s gotten even better than before. My first inkling that Asher’s hunger to establish himself as a respected hip-hop entity was his verse on the All-City Chess Club remix of Lupe Fiasco’s I’m Beamin’. Flanked by some awesome emcees like Charles Hamilton, Chuck Inglish & Mikey Rocks of The Cool Kids, Blu, and B.o.B, Asher’s verse was crazy good. Even Lupe himself stated in an interview that Asher did exceptionally well, saying quote: “Asher bodied it.” Asher stuck to those lyrical guns, tuned up his flow and tone, and let rip on his latest mixtape The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 2.
Don Cannon & DJ Drama are back again to put the man in question on a smorgasbord of beats – some familiar, some not so – and the track Maybe I Don’t Wanna wastes no time getting things kicked off. Asher opts for the semi-braggadocious/day-in-the-life introduction but what’s interesting about this track is how he’s spitting over Tom Petty, SWV, and The Beach Boys in certain sections. Asher “keeps it real” over the track and is even cheeky enough to holler at US tennis star Andy Roddick’s girlfriend. Some will eye-roll and some will laugh but I did the latter. Lyrically, the typical grandiosity is replaced with generous amounts of facetiousness; something that those who are familiar with Asher Roth’s style will instantly recognise. The tape then shifts to a track called Paradise, one that will go down well with your average person that can think of nothing but a holiday in a warmer country than the one they currently occupy. Asher’s flow stands out here: it’s pacey, but never overbearing. I mentioned that his tone and cadence has evolved somewhat and this track is a brilliant demonstration of how much he’s changed on the mic. Paradise is great for that summer soundtrack that your curating so make sure to give it a spin.
There are some skippable moments on this mixtape: Party Girl (f/ Lil’ Wayne), Females Welcome, Blurred Lines, Girlscout Cookies, & Actin Up. The first four songs I mentioned are supposed to be for the ladies (according to Drama… or was that Cannon talking?) and while two of them really do try to mean well (Females Welcome & Blurred Lines), it still comes off as a bit of a backhanded compliment. Put it this way: some women will be reaching for the skip button and frankly, I don’t blame them for doing so. Actin’ Up is very mediocre. It’s nothing more than your standard run-of-the-mill radio pop-hop and I think Asher could’ve done better here. I suppose there’s not much you can do when you’re flanked with rappers like Rye Rye, Justin Bieber (dude, I’m not kidding), and Chris ‘Beat A Bish Down’ Brown. Despite those cringeworthy moments, I am happy to say that The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 2 isn’t all misogyny and braggadocio. Most of it is just what hip-hop needs a bit more of: a decent sense-of-humour, cunning wordplay, and a dope flow from a dope emcee.
That said, this brings me to what I believe are the best tracks on the album: Pass That Dutch (a freestyle over the track of the same name, originally performed by Missy Elliot), Pop Radio, Treat Me Like Fire, and Eggs Florentine (featuring King Mez & Remy Banks). Simply put, Mr Roth bodied every last one of these but his verse on Eggs Florentine is the performance that must not be skipped. For starters, the beat knocks something fierce and the bassline is so fat and fuzzy, you’ll think someone stuffed a juicy peach into your ear canal. Top that off with a simplistic yet brilliant Dilla-esque electric piano, a siren sound effect that manages to not be too overbearing, superb verses from King Mez & Remy Banks, and you have yourself a certified hip-hop banger. I’m not sure where Asher is going for his upcoming second album but if the entire album hits as hard as hard and boogies down to the ground like those five tracks, the music press will be hailing him as a hip-hop phenom. More importantly, I think Asher proves that he’s definitely got it in his locker to be a respected emcee and these tracks act as empirical evidence.
Overall, I enjoyed The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 2. Asher Roth is someone that I sensed great potential in and now he’s moving to exact every last ounce of it. You can tell that he loves hip-hop and while he may come from white suburban America, he does what a good emcee is supposed to do: he makes you forget about the formalities and force you to listen to what’s coming out of his mouth. This mixtape is a cypher in a zip file and it’s that reason in particular why I think everyone should listen to it at least once. Through all the BS and the drama, Asher Roth reminds people why rappers even rap in the first place: because they love doing it. I can’t help but respect that approach.
Props, Mr Roth. Props.