Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dawn Of A New Era?

According to hitsdailydouble, we finally have the answers to two of hip-hop biggest current questions: Would the record-buying public continue to support Rick Ross, even after exposure after exposure and his own attempts at self-sabotage and would people actually support Asher Roth, the first of the XXL Freshman 10/Internet All-Stars to have a physical copy of his album in stores? The answer to the first question is kinda, and to the second, yeah.

While Ross still was able to drop and do his usual numbers, that's not a great sign, considering that Bawse pulled every stunt known to man to get people to cop this album. Between the idiotic 50 Cent beef, his weekly self-etherings on Worldstar, his countless unintentionally comedic quotables, actually admitting to his CO past, the big budget beats & guests, for him to come out and not have actually succeeded in garnering any new fans isn't a good sign for him or gangsta rap as a whole. This is not any fault of Ross', not musically, at least. Deeper Than Rap is 2009's answer to The Documentary, an album with the best beats money can buy and as many guests as you can cram on a record. While Ross clearly has been learning to ride a track much better and is no longer simply talking over the beat, he's not saying much that makes any sense. With all the name dropping, R&B hooks, references that didn't quite hit the mark, and 50 Cent bashing, it even felt just like a Game album. And he somehow managed to omit the one song that was supposed to be on that album that I was feeling the most, Cigar Music. And he let Avery Storm ruin Rich Off Cocaine by having him croon that ridiculous refrain for which the song is named. But, having the finest beats can only carry you so far. The album did not need Ne-Yo, T-Pain, The Dream, Robin Thicke, John Legend, and any of the other R&B singers I neglected to mention. The album did not need Foxy Brown (I remember when she actually could rhyme), Trina, Gunplay, Lil' Wayne in full-on "I could care less" mode or any other of the terrible guest rappers I neglected to mention.

By comparison, Roth's more mellow, honest affair with less hoopla and big name guests must have seemed appealing to a lot of consumers. He doesn't pile on huge names, with only Keri Hilson, Cee-Lo, Busta Rhymes, and Jazze Pha helping out. It's primarily produced by his own in-house producer, whose name escapes me. Instead of farcical fairy tales, he's mostly spitting about real life experiences. However, the right intentions does not a classic album make.
While I did enjoy a handful of tracks off Roth's debut LP, with Lark On My Go-Kart, As I Em, Be By Myself, Lion's Roar, and Fallin' being quality work. I found myself enjoying his Greenhouse Effect mixtape far more, though. This is not because the album is trash or not enjoyable in its own right, but because without the constraints of major-label record making, it allowed the listener to get a much better feel for the type of rapper Asher is. The merits of Ross/Roth aside, this signals a new direction in rap. Perhaps major labels will stop bankrolling compilation albums of rappers like Ross, Game, etc. with all the $100,000 beats and A-listers on every other track, and start letting rappers with a new vision get their shot. Considering how monkey see, monkey do the labels are, it stands to reason that at least Kid Cudi, Drake, or maybe even Wale might drop something soon. I'd evcn settle for B.O.B. or Blu at this point.

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