I’ve spent a lot of time defending Asher Roth over the years. Every time he would come out with a new project I would recommend it to friends and inevitably be met with “The “I Love College” guy? Get that out of here!” Recent(ish) output like his verse on All-City Chess Club’s remix of “I’m Beamin'” show some clever word play and his verse on the remix of Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” makes it a little less embarrassing for me to like that remix as much as I do. He’s been putting out a fair bit of non-feature material (including 2011’s excellent Pabst and Jazz mixtape) in anticipation of a second major release and it’s equally good, making people take notice of Asher even if they’ve previously dismissed him. But Roth has been an incredibly clever emcee this whole time, not getting the love he deserves partially because of his greatest success.
Asher Roth has come this week with The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 2
and it’s a great reminder of why Asher made the XXL Freshman List in 2009. In an age where “mixtape” is synonymous with “free album,” Roth gets back to the original meaning, taking his favorite beats from other artists and trying to make better songs with them. It’s a flashback to his big break on Greenhouse Effect 1 where his “Roth Boys” over Jay-Z’s “Roc Boys” beat became his claim to fame. On “Females Welcomed” he takes one of my favorite beats from this year and replaces the bad (Trinidad Jame$) with an ode to smart girls. The opening track has a listed feature from The Beach Boys and Tom Petty, adding a minimal trap beat under what you would expect from those features. Roth also lays down a freestyle over Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” that doesn’t miss a beat. It could be put in as an official remix tomorrow and it would be perfect. I’d really like to see Thicke and Roth get together for a new track. I think their styles compliment each other and it can’t be worse than T.I.’s verse on “Blurred Lines.”
It’s not all samples though. On “Pass That Dutch” and “Healer,” Asher takes a pair of minimalist beats and goes out with the intention of rapping as hard as he possibly can, cramming punchlines by the dozen into relatively short tracks. Roth smartly included “Party Girl,” the planned single from his sophomore album, although this version ditches the good verse Meek Mill added to the original and replaces it with a Lil Wayne verse I could have done without. (Yeah, Asher Roth outdid Weezy. Believe.) Despite Wayne’s best efforts, I still love “Party Girl,” with its catchy beat and Eddie Murphy samples. Tracks like “Numbers” and “A-One” show some diversity, especially the jazzy piano beat on “A-One.”
Overall, Greenhouse Effect Vol. 2 is a great project that may serve to reintroduce Asher Roth to the hip-hop community (though I’ll still be over here insisting that he never left). Though I wish this project would have included some his other recent releases, like the excellent “Wrestling is Fake,” there’s more than enough quality tracks on the mixtape to be excited about. You can listen to the mixtape below and download it here.