Asher Roth, Jazz Café, London
Wednesday 18 January 2012
Emerging onto the stage with his (now long) ginger locks, this white Jewish rapper looks no more like a hip hop star than he ever did.
But fresh from signing a new record deal with iconic hip hop institution Def Jam Records, this Pennsylvanian MC is back with his sophomore album ‘Is This Too Orange?’ And, although it’s been three years since his breakout frat-boy hit ‘I Love College’, Roth’s still not entirely wholesome.
As becomes clear when the stoner-grooves on ‘Blunt Cruisin’’, a track about getting high in your car, ooze out amidst the bobbing crowd. ‘I got the money, who go the dutchies? You got the munchies? I got the weed’, he drawls.
Yet he’s hardly your typical rapper either. Truculently pacing across the tiny stage peddling self-mocking witticisms about suburban life, lines like ‘Me and Teddy Ruckspin stirring up a ruckus/Egging all the houses, smashing all the pumpkins’, from ‘Lark on My Go-Kart’, serve as a reminder that this middle-class rapper still isn’t striving to represent anyone he isn’t.
And more importantly, his newer music still contains his old characteristic blend of irresistible beats, hooky refrains and his own seamless delivery. Tracks like ‘Common Knowledge’ with its layers of synths rippling over reverb-sodden beats, sound every bit as beguiling as the tracks on his first record.
Even his brave choice to cover D’Angelo’s neo-soul classic ‘Brown Sugar’ is well-executed and briefly exposes that unexpectedly tender facet of his vocal prowess.
Unsurprisingly, however, it’s Roth’s show-closer, and ode to student hedonism, ‘I Love College’, that spawns the most delight amongst the audience. Yet Roth, himself, seems the most jubilant when the deep gravelly bass line on ‘Hard Times’ kicks in. Asking the audience to rock back and forth with him, spirits continue to soar throughout the following track, ‘G.R.I.N.D. (Get Ready It's A New Day)’, which, with its summery drums, hook-laden chorus, and almost disco-like breakdown is enjoyable enough to compensate for the slight nausea the lyrics trigger (particularly the middle eight which preaches ‘happiness isn't about getting what you want all the time, it's about loving what you have’).
Nausea aside, for spreading such positive vibes and retaining an unapologetic approach to his middle class background, Roth should be commended for embracing the accessibility of his music. So what if he’s more like Superbad’s McLovin than he is Eminem? He’s pretty good regardless.
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 5 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
The Gamechangers trailer: Daniel Radcliffe stars in GTA movie
Star Wars: New action dolls launched on Force Friday ahead of The Force Awakens release
Ricki And The Flash, film review: Meryl Streep's rock'n'roll creation steals the show
Joan Aiken: Today's Google Doodle celebrates life of British fantasy novelist
Photographer captures the beauty and intensity of his girlfriend giving birth at home
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Refugees welcome: More than 250,000 sign Independent petition calling for Britain to 'take its fair share'