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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Asher Roth

Tonight @ U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, Summerfest, 10 p.m.

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The most divisive musical phenomenon of 2009, Asher Roth emerged from practically out of nowhere with his debut single “I Love College,” an unforgettable introduction that laid out Roth’s M.O.: He loves college, he loves drinking, he loves smoking, he loves women. He’s that college guy.

That track put Roth’s name out there, earning him a permanent place in the iTunes playlist of frat boys everywhere, right next to Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.” The rest of Roth’s debut album, Asleep in the Bread Aisle, hits home his munchies-seeking slacker shtick hard. “All I do is eat, drink, smoke weed and rap and play Madden,” he boasts on “Be By Myself.” But Roth also has ambitions of being a seen as a serious rapper, not just a novelty, and he reminds listeners that he had to prove himself to no less a towering figure than Jay-Z before getting signed.

“I’m that different, just ask Jigga,” Roth raps on “La Di Da.” “He listened and witnessed the birth of a star, emerging and surging his way up to the top of the charts.”

On one of Bread Aisle’s most memorable tracks, Roth shows career-minded foresight by addressing the inevitable Eminem comparisons he invites as a white rapper. “Cause we have the same complexion and similar voice inflection, it’s easy to see the pieces and reach for that connection,” he muses on the reggae-tinged, “As I Em,” though it’s doubtful anybody could genuinely confuse the two. Eminem is Eminem. Asher Roth is that college guy.

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