You remember doing scavenger hunts as a kid? Everyone runs around with the same list of items that they have to find and and bring back quickest for the glory. I would never win that growing up. Instead, I would start on the same path as everyone else but while they were all on the quest for pinecones, earthworms or whatever other meaningless objects made their way onto the list, I would manage to find something not on the list. It was always something unique, like a stone cracked open revealing its crystal-like quartz on the inside. This is how I feel about being a fan of Asher Roth. He isn’t one in media headlines and he stays even further from people’s list of relevant artists. To me though, he is like that cracked rock that gets cooler the deeper you look.
To parallel, everyone has their ‘scavenger lists’ of great rappers, full of new music from the Kanyes, Drakes and Kendricks. Not often, if ever will you see Asher Roth’s name in a list alongside those artists. But modern music has removed the ability to recollect, rather, drowning us in a constant flow of new music and styles. But if we take that time now to look back on Mr. Roth’s musical career, we will likely notice his commercial peak as the artist who spit, ‘I Love College’. Immediately, there goes some major credibility in the eyes of hip-hop heads. Due to that aforementioned cyclical flow of new music and tossing out of the old, that song marked the first and only time many people heard Roth rap. Since we are taking the time to look back, now, I feel very bad for those people. Why? Because now Asher Roth has given us project like the Rawth and Rawther EPs and my personal favorite, Pabst & Jazz.
After his very mediocre 2009 album debut, Asleep In The Bread Isle, which was completely tailored to the mainstream appeal he had, Pabst & Jazz caught me completely off guard with its unorthodox approach to general sound and Roth’s witty lyricism. Starting there, Roth has perhaps some of the freshest delivery and lyrical acrobatics on display of any project in 2011. The title track, opens with a jazzy piano and boom bap mix that couples with Roth’s light yet concise delivery wonderfully. It sets a mellow pace for the start of the project that is interrupted no later than three seconds into the second track where Roth verifies, “This shit is jammin’ though”, and proceeds to have some verbal fun over extremely funky guitars and subterranean bass hits. He is accompanied by Action Bronson here who has a decent verse and is backed by about a dozen other artists throughout the project. The project is fun enough to warrant all the tag team partners Asher commissioned and it undeniably broadened his potential fan base; which was a fantastic tactic to employ on this unique work.
The production is typically suited to fit the descriptive title of the tape. Mixing funk and jazz overtones with some more experimental undertones. There is a little bit of something for everyone here. Roth is just as quick to play around with phonetics and vocabulary as he is to simplify the great tragedy of life that is the idea that we are all simply living to die. This tape’s complexities are found in his ability to sound so relaxed and put such verbal wizardry on display while fully explaining every level of his thoughts. From looking back on life and at the world as a whole, to taking in a beautiful day or a beautiful lady next to him it’s never hard to listen. That must be the best part of the project, the parallel between the title and the final product. It goes down as smooth as a Pabst in hand and your favorite Louis Armstrong record spinning next to your chair on the patio as you watch the sunset over the city; just take it in first, you can think about it later.