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Album review: Asher Roth's 'Asleep in the Bread Aisle'*

April 21, 2009 |  6:19 pm

Asher_240 In the 10 months since Asher Roth dropped his DJ Drama-helmed mix tape, "The Greenhouse Effect," the Morrisville, Pa.-raised rapper has managed to become a ubiquitous pop culture presence with the Weezer-riffing hit single, "I Love College," and endorsements from Jay-Z and Andre 3000.

With the release of his official debut, "Asleep in the Bread Aisle" on stoner holiday April 20 (4/20), though, the tallowy talent seems just that -- asleep, with a sedated flow perpetually one toke over the line. When Busta Rhymes ("Lion's Roar") and Beanie Sigel ("Perfectionist") appear, they expose the freshman phenom as out of his weight class.

Roth's attempts at introspection are sincere but shallow: an overwrought ode to his father's mid-life crisis ("His Dream)," a bathos-bloated eco-political diatribe ("Sour Patch Kids") and an attempt to repudiate Eminem comparisons ("As I Em,") made futile by an eerie emulation of Eminem's singular timbre and rhyme schemes.

The album isn't completely charmless. "Lark on My Go-Kart," the Cee-Lo aided, "Be by Myself" and "I Love College" reveal a breezy affability. But far too often, Roth's quest for relatability reeks of redundancy. "Asleep in the Bread Aisle" boasts a benign banality that suggests a truth Roth might already have known -- staying in school was the smart move.

-- Jeff Weiss

Asher Roth
"Asleep in the Bread Aisle"
Schoolboy/SRC/Universal Records
Two and a half stars

UPDATE: The original version of this post mistakenly identified a song's title as  "Way I Em." The correct song title is "As I Em."

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