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Asher Roth, Pabst & Jazz

First impressions can be misleading. It was easy for hip-hop heads to write off Asher Roth as the White boy du jour after he exploded onto the scene with the 2009 bro-tastic single “I Love College.” But those who actually stuck around to give him a deeper listen came to find out the Pennsylvania MC had more to him than initially met the eye and ear. With his latest release Pabst & Jazz, Asher puts his witty lyricism on display over jazzy cuts courtesy of the Chicago production team, Blended Babies, among others.

The title track opener has the intimate feel of a dark, smoky jazz club as Asher sets the tone for the project, rapping “Lackadaisical, Pabst & Radio/Playing the latest Johnny Coltrane up on the Casio.” It’s followed by “Choices,” where Asher delivers a velvet smooth verse over a deep bass line alongside Action Bronson.

While P&J is a feature heavy affair, Roth shows he’s capable of holding a track down on his own, which he does on “In the Kitchen” (over a soundscape courtesy of boom-bap specialist Chuck Inglish) and the Christopher Walken-sampling “More Cowbell.” On the latter, the former Freshman opens with, “In the meadows where we grow the rose petals, and we sip a glass of merlot while I blow the Portobello/Like Cruello with a cigarillo/Hello, listen up/This is Asher from the Morrisville, a little north of Truck” (this last part is a clever flip on Philadelphia rapper, Truck North).

These lyrical gymnastics can be a lot to digest, but keeping up with the absurdity is what makes the tape such an intriguing listen. The wordplay is jam-packed with obscure references that leave the listener Googling, Wikipedia-ing, and hitting the rewind button, because it’s nearly impossible to catch everything the first time around. Such skills are maginified when the production is as exceptional as it is here. “Golden Midas” is a gem of a beat, with DJ Premier-esque scratching over feverish trumpetry.

Another PA native, former NFL coach Denny Green, once spoke of his opposition following a defeat, saying, “They are who we thought they were.” Those still dismissing Asher Roth as the “I Love College” frat-rapper are mistaken. Attention-grabbing lyrics and an inclination to experiment with outside the box production here show a quirky and talented artist at work. Somebody get me a PBR. —Neil Martinez-Belkin (@Neil_MB)

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  • T

    This mixtape was consistent from start to finish. I was pleasantly surprised. Asher has the best ear for beats and features.

  • Sirswagg

    The Beats are So Dope, And asher Kills most of them one of the best mixtapes to come out last year even if it was late to the party lol

  • Lord Maximus

    Why not a XXL? It’s completely different, original and what the game needs. Definitely deserves an XXL

  • http://n/a jondoe

    “Just Because you don’t understand him, that don’t mean he nice” – Jay-Z

  • Rya.N.

    XL is the right call i believe. But originality should’ve been an XL too. #VeryGoodMixtape

  • Joe

    this doesnt get an XL in originality but rick ross gets one ? all u hear in his mixtape are the same old beats and the same old sound in all of his songs.. at least asher is a true emcee

  • Adam

    I like your references and the eloquent flow of your writing. Great article Neil!

    “Another PA native, former NFL coach Denny Green, once spoke of his opposition following a defeat, saying, “They are who we thought they were.” Those still dismissing Asher Roth as the “I Love College” frat-rapper are mistaken”

  • Pacer

    Awesome mixtape. Great way to kick off 2012 for Asher Roth.
    I havent been able to listen to anything else since downloading this..

  • LC

    I was one of those people who dismissed Asher Roth as a one-hit, novelty song wonder. This P&J is straight dope though, so many good flows, witty lines, and good beats. Hopefully he gets another shot at the big time with his next album, because I’m excited to hear it.

  • Platero

    This mixtape was FIRE

  • http://youtube.com/tyvaup Ty Vaup

    I go to a school where kids treat mainstream rappers like God!!! I get made fun of for listening to “the i love college guy”. Now i have something to show people who tell me im a lame cuz i listen to white rap. ASH ROTH IS LYRICALLY BETTER THAN 95% OF ALL RAPPERS

  • Danny

    Yeah that’s pretty skeet to not give this an XXL. This is easily one of the top 5 mixtapes of the year and you’re gonna give Ross’ mixtape an XXL? Oh. I’ve heard Stay Schemin’ made 400 different ways in the past 3 years, but okay.

  • Icyy

    no white rapper flows like him he is the most original white boy in the game. careless smooth flow come on now.