Over the past six years, Asher Roth has mentioned in a series of mixshow appearances and interview with HipHopDX that he was evolving as an artist and challenging himself by creating more experimental music. After venerable Virginia-based producer/emcee Nottz Raw and Asher Roth released their joint Rawth EP in 2010, Roth promised a follow-up effort to this collaboration EP with rap’s most beloved rap-rock collaborator Travis Barker titled Rawther. It’s been four years since Roth had described this extended player to sound like: “almost rock music that’s coming from the boom bap, and there’s elements of psychedelic trip rock.” Six years is a virtual eternity in the entertainment business, and he’s done a considerable amount of work to follow up on his word by releasing The Greenhouse Effect Vol. 2 and the eccentric Retrohash album, Rawther comes in as a natural transition to add to his discography.
The combination of Roth’s relaxed yet cleverly crafted multi-layered wordplay, Nottz Raw’s teeth-grit delivery with his 90s post-punk guitar-influenced production, and Barker’s live drum boom-bap percussion clangor serves as twenty minutes that you won’t wish you could ask for back. There are only six tracks available, but this is lean enough that Rawther doesn’t wane itself to the degree of potentially losing focus. And it doesn’t sound too sonically chaotic, just enough for Roth to shine and sync right in with his flow.
Rawther opens with a heavy three-chord guitar lick that sounds like it’s best heard at a festival. This sets the stage for Roth ease his way in on the second track “Goin’ Down,” after Nottz Raw spits his battle-ready intensity to match the reverb and loud brass and 85 BPM drumline. The bravado steps up a notch on “Voldemort” where Nottz and Asher both rhyme to a downbeat baseline over a guitar wail that prevails like the one in RUN-DMC’s “Rock Box.” Nottz spits: “No, I’m not a marshall but catch me hiding out in the marsh/Right behind the woods when I’m done doing my seance.” Roth is more technical in his approach to rhyming and proving his lyrical prowess, but bends his syllables to connect his bars somewhat in contrast with the beat. “This be SARS to the Asians, koo-koo-kachew/can’t be contagious with the Swine Flu to a Jew.”
The interlude copies Led Zeppellin “When the Levee Breaks” drum pattern mixed with some psychedelic rock as a minor left turn for the remainder of the EP. The following track “Temptation” has a stellar guest appearance by Royce Da 5’9, as both Roth and the Detroit’s finest rip through the mount of hard snares and cymbals like a two-man army march. The trio saves the best for last with “Blow Yr Head ” by taking Fred Wesley and The J.B.’s classic funk record of the same title, recreate a rap banger, comparable to Public Enemy’s “No. 1” debut single.
As for three veterans and close friends who were brought together by staging pranks on tour with each other, and in a tattoo shop, there is much to be said about Asher Roth’s longevity and his place as one of Pennsylvania’s, or suburbia’s, best yet.