Notorious B.I.G. > Guerrilla Black
Whitney Houston > Deborah Cox
Jay-Z > NOE
Tupac > Crazy
Mariah Carey > Leona Lewis
Ice Cube > Mac 10 > Killer Mike
Stevie Wonder > Charlie Wilson (GAP Band) > Aaron Hall (GUY) > R. Kelly
50 Cent > Hot Rod
Mase > Fabolous
TLC > Elusion
"That is an odd list Nervous." What does any of this have to do with a hip-hop review? This list is a short collection of iconic artists and the people whom they allegedly share the one branding characteristic that cannot be imitated – a similar voice and vocal tone. You can mimic flow, breath control, slang, accent, annunciation, and overall style. However, when it comes to the voice itself, there just quite simply is no manner of replication short of reconfiguring your DNA or throat surgery – and I do not know if you would really want to take it that far.
Sounding like someone whom most people easily recognize seems as if it is a positive upon first inspection. However, upon closer interrogation, it has proven to be an albatross for the new artist who has to continuously battle public opinion that they are "attempting" to sound like someone else. In addition, most times, what is discovered is that though the voice may be the same, and in many cases, the doppelganger actually has the TALENT to hold their end of the bargain, the follow-up rarely approaches the heights of the original. Every icon is a sum of diverse parts that fit together to create something one element alone cannot duplicate.
Truthfully, I would rather NOT sound like someone widely celebrated because it places you in the position of trying to differentiate yourself, yet hampered by an element that you cannot change short of insane surgery or a car accident. This is the problem that Asher Roth is going to have to deal with repeatedly. He is white, blond, short, and his voice bears a shockingly close resemblance to Eminem – even at intense scrutiny. For those who actually remember Em circa '99 – 02, when he was at his absolute peak, that is the legacy that Mr. Roth is going to be measured against. There are not too many emcees that could stand next to that era and still stay on the scoreboard. Asher Roth – try as he might – does not even make it into the game.
He has the same problem that plagued Guerrilla Black: he has the VOICE of a legend, but what is missing are all the elements that etched their legacies into the memories of fans worldwide. Namely, incredible lyricism, distinct personality, and that CHARM that let you know that you were listening to something more than just an artist – you were hearing the rumblings of a REVOLUTION!
Asher Roth goes for edginess with the track "Rub On Your Tits" (produced by Oren Yoel). On the ULTRA Eminem-ish "Gimme Your Box", he delivers a track that sounds almost exactly like every single one of Em's first singles from every album except his first. He even makes a "Britney" reference.
"More often than not, I wont fuck with box
If I don't really know its' history
Don't wanna shocked, cause a million cocks
Got all up in that in-between
But tonight, you can be a mystery
Your history, don't mean shit to me
I don't care if your vag is squeaky clean
Or all beat up like Britney"
He even demonstrates a bit of battle rapper-lite when he rhymes over the "Cannon" instrumental (a requirement for EVERY rapper who has a mixtape hosted by Don Cannon).
"You know the world's gone mad
When blacks are wearing plaid
And Mariah Carey marries Nick (CANNON sample)"
He even goes for something kind of creative when he espouses upon a subject I have personally conversed about: which "Cartoon Chick" would I sleep with if I had the opportunity.
- My personal pick is Pocahontas.
Ultimately, it is good, but not enough to really to force a strong impression on the listener. He is good, but the guy he sounds like is great. Intentional or not, he appears to take many of the same steps in his music which forces a comparison that hardly ANYONE could stand up against.
He has potential. If he picks his beats correctly, focuses heavily on forging a unique style, and uses his "gift" of a nice voice, he can make a difference. It is clear that he is not trying to be Eminem, avoiding all of the despair, shock values, and tedious malaise that defined Em's golden era. He appears to be happy being who he is: a well-to-do, upper-middle class hip-hop fan who just wants to rock mics. He just happens to share a larynx with a legend. He would be well served to keep fine-tuning his style – and maybe he can do like R. Kelly and make us forget who actually reminded us at first listen.
Music Vibes: n/a of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: July 29, 2008