Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dart's Rant Of The Day: Hype, Lies & Corporate Co-signs* (Re-Up)

As many of you already know, the promo copies of Asher Roth's album have been in the hands of the media for a while. Since I'm at the bottom of the media pile, I got mine recently. If you've been following me on Twitter I've been shittin' on Asher Roth for a while now. It's not without good reason, either. Let me break down how I went from being totally receptive of Asher Roth back when "The Greenhouse Effect" first dropped to being completely pissed off with his mediocrity on the mic and his entire situation, promotional push and team for varied reasons. Let's go back, shall we?

It all started back in June 2008 when Don Cannon and DJ Drama (the gateway to the South) presented Asher Roth's The Greenhouse Effect (AKA The Greatest Mixtape Ever). Since he was being co-signed by Don Cannon and DJ Drama I figured why not give it a listen (I paid the tag "Greatest Mixtape Ever" no mind whatsoever). I came away pretty impressed with the mixtape, not exactly my cup of tea but I dug it enough that I included on my Halftime Show list. Not too long afterwards the Obama shirt rockin' Asher Roth's "Roth Boys" video came out and I was still on board. I noticed how many huge blogs had this video up and I figured his people were taking full advantage of the blogosphere. I found out he signed with SRC (Steve Rifkind Company/Corporation) and Scooter Braun was managing him. Aroo? © Scooby Doo

I didn't go to the website, The Daily Kush. I did start noticing the way he was being branded and marketed very early on, though. I was a little put off once I realized that Asher Roth's YouTube video channel was full of videos with testimonials and co-signs by more established artists. The bigger sites kept putting up these Asher Roth videos so often that eyebrows began to raise. Even compared to the other blog favorites, it seemed that the internets were becoming overloaded with footage of Asher Roth performing, video of his doing iffy freestyles and the obvious push at the college crowd and weed heads. He was often on the bill with established hardcore acts like Heltah Skeltah. Being on the same bill together makes it seem like they'd be "people".

Things really came to a head when XXL picked their Leaders Of The New School in October 2008, among them being Asher Roth (who no one had even heard of before June...a short four months ago!). Several bloggers gave their personal take on the selections but it wasn't until Brandon Soderberg @ No Trivia dropped his thoughts that the shit truly hit the fan(s). Considering that Asher Roth after only 120 days on the blogs was on the front cover with B.o.B. (who sounded a lot like Andre 3000), Charles Hamilton (who it turns out is a liar and a thief) and Wale (who had been killin' shit for years) people got heated.

I was more than amused with this bullshit ass list XXL dropped (Ace Hood? Really?) since I previously made a much better one by my goddamn self that February. The thing was if the issue of Asher Roth coverage/features that appeared on the bigger blogs (Nah Right, The Rap Up, The Smoking Section, etc. ) versus the smaller writer based Hip Hop blogs (The ones Alexa doesn't recognize and Technorati barely does) was ALREADY enough to have us argue and complain about it in October '08 it would only get worse in the near future nearing the album's release date.

The whole Animal House/Van Wilder/Frat Boy/Weed Head schtick was getting hella old already to me. I had also seen a few live freestyle sessions where Asher was looking straight up ass. On some songs I heard he did his thing but other times he was just meh. Meanwhile, the hype machine was working overtime and the guest appearances and corporate co-signs were piling up. Back in the days when Eminem was signed by Aftermath he had already destroyed the fuckin' underground and had spit next to all of the sickest lyricists of the day for the past 3 or more years so his co-signs came strictly from his talent and not from Dr. Dre or Jimmy Iovine's influence. Asher can't say the same thing for himself. I've never come away from an Asher Roth verse sayin' "He killed it!". "He did his thing on that one"? Yes. He hasn't merked shit yet. Not even a capella.

The next issue I had with Asher Roth was when he was dissed by a couple of rappers, notably Stan Ipcus and underground veteran Copywrite for biting Eminem. Ipcus was meh but Copywrite really went at him. What was Asher's response? An underwhelming response with a pauseworthy title ("Silly Boy") and a terrible hook. He has a terrible ass super formulaic single that's everywhere you look. It's the moment I feared, Asher Roth is being marketed to the exact demographic I feared he would while he's being shown in videos posted on Nah Right and other Hip Hop blogs chilling with established acts like Cee-Lo Green, Ludacris and emcee/producer Nottz. See the difference here? Then the album release date was scheduled for 4.20...We first heard from dude last June. His album dropped in 10 months without ONCE ever getting pushed back? That took perfect planning...that NEVER happens! Ruh roh! © Scooby Doo

The further manipulation of the internet/blogs and digital media and viral marketing campaigns were all to be expected. The issue lies in those little things that result in your album coming out in 2 years...never 10 months between your first mixtape, a huge successful push and the album actually dropping. The big slap in the face was when industry veteran and former head of Loud/RCA Records Steve Rifkind said the Asher Roth's LP "Asleep In The Bread Aisle" would be a classic album that would change the face of Hip Hop. I've heard the aforementioned album. It's OK. It doesn't suck, but it's FAR from being a classic LP. What the fuck is the matter with Steve Rifkind? Why would he make such a statement? If Asher Roth were really the game changing emcee he claimed he was his album probably would've been pushed back or shelved by now.

In conclusion, the overwhelming hype over Asher Roth, an emcee of slightly better than mediocre skills that has his shining moments every now and then is offputting. As a blogger that's exposed to a gang of different emcees through my inbox, the blogosphere, Twitter and my actual mailbox (CD's...they're old school now) it's ridiculous how you can't go anywhere without seeing the insane Asher Roth push. There's a thin line between promotion and hype and this Asher Roth campaign has stepped WAY over the fuckin' line in my opinion. It's almost like Scooter Braun, Steve Rifkind or even DJ Drama and Don Cannon have done everything humanly possible and called in every marker they have to get this album made and rushed out and promoted. But WHY Asher and not one of the 50+ other more talented emcees that are currently on the scene today instead?

Back in 2007, Wale released the much heralded "100 Miles And Runnin'" mixtape. In May 2008, he followed it up with the certified classic "Mixtape About Nothing". It's going on 11 months since THAT mixtape dropped and he has the lead single for his debut album but no video out as of yet. It will more than likely be the summer before Wale's LP drops and he has Mark Ronson and Interscope Records behind him (provided the album doesn't get pushed back). Why isn't Wale a BIGGER priority than Asher Roth. He's been more consistent over the past 3 or 4 years, made more and better material and he's been signed longer...that being the case, what the fuck is up? B.o.B's "I'll Be In The Sky" was a huge hit on MTV...where's the follow up single? When's the LP coming? How is Asher Roth avoiding all of these pitfalls that are affecting everyone else it seems? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

* I originally posted this rant about SRC artist Asher Roth up on April 14th, 2009. It was subsequently linked by just about every prominent Hip Hop site on the internet in the following weeks once Asher Roth began experiencing negative reactions due to his "nappy headed hoes" comment on Twitter and his comments about Black rappers flaunting their wealth and not supporting Africa. On May 1st, 2009, Blogger hit me with a DMCA takedown notice for providing a DivShare link to "Silly Boy". It's NOW a YouTube link and everything about this post should now be in compliance with Blogger standards. If it gets taken down NOW we'll all know why.



Anonymous said...

i'm feelin this post dart. there's been a blogosphere shitstorm about this dude. best points (besides yours) i've seen are in this post that i've seen linked to a few times:


Anonymous said...

Valid points. But Wale is working on his video for Chillin actually now I believe. The mixtape with 9th Wonder will be out soon and the album will be classic. I was also kinda hyped for Bread in the Aisle or what have you but was also somewhat disappointed. It was not consistent and was too short in my eyes.

M.Z. said...

Thought I had read this before

Anonymous said...

damn i love this blog.

Probz said...

You are so right. He's not even all that they just hyped him up

M said...

deep,...........KUNTA Roth approves this message.........................AGAIN.

nehustler said...

yeah man, the machine was behind this kid crazy, but I knew it was all gonna be a farce. Shame on industry players like Don C and others, who go overboard on the co-signs and the hype of an artist just for the dollars!

Dart Adams said...

@ gogoluver:

Here's the problem...I wrote this blog back on April 14th, 2009 before Asher Roth's album ever even dropped. I mentioned that Wale had a new single (since January?) but no video as of yet...that was last month. I saw screen shots from the video YESTERDAY.

If that single w/Lady Gaga on the hook "Chillin" was being performed by him in January and it was all over the net not too long after then hit the radio everywhere by February why is it gonna be damn near June before we get a video for "Chillin'?"

"I Love College" was online and on iTunes and the video was EVERYWHERE within 10 DAYS. Tell me I'm lying!


Malcolm Maximillion said...

*claps* excellent post, damn I'm mad I missed it the first time.

Cenzi Stiles said...

maaaaaaaan. This was very well studied. Have you ever tried to reach out to Steve for some answers? on some journalist shit? That's the thin line between bloggers and journalists, and as I read this, I was wishin Dart Adams upped the ante and started interviews and journalism. Am I off point?

Cenzi Stiles said...

I watched that Rifkind video of him talkin about Roth's album being top 5.. As I watched this dude talk, I could not help but feel sad for his desperate situation. Trying to sell this white boy rap to hiphop heads. I think I vomitted in my mouth.

Anonymous said...

Even more valid point. I mean I guess the people just wanted another white rapper to love since Eminem has fail off the face of the earth in the past 5 years. I mean the media might just seem like there is enough "Wale's" running around appearance wise. Rhyme style and content wise there is not enough for sure.

Unknown said...

XXL Magazine has been sh-tty since that wack ass yellow dude took over and turned it into the wack/overrated rapper promotional tool...It used to be a dope magazine with articles that mainly revolved around underground artist.

Steve Rifkind used to have one of the greatest hip hop labels and rosters in the game. Now he's been reduced to hyping up this Asher Roth guy.

Unknown said...

This almost makes me want to blog about rap again. Almost.

Dope dope analysis of someone sliding by on barely-there potential. To be real about it, Wale got this treatment (with more talent mind you) and it nearly ruined him. He oversaturated, did too much for his level and then the so-called buzz died. I think this kind of blog brokering, payola type shit is the worst example of fixing the game since, well, the last time it happened. Enh.

Keep writing.

Objektiv One said...

Loved it man. This type of viral marketing is happening way more than we know. There just wasn't a very good cover up with this.

These labels know the best way to make consumers feel a part of the movement is to make it seem organic....

We all feel good when we "discover" an artist and break it to our friends right? That's not even mentioning his skills (or lack there of).....

Plus, they need someone to market to the white 20-something college dudes right now (I am white, not trying to start shit.)

Thanks Dart. Good write up.