Asher Roth: RetroHash

Forget The Spaghetti Tree and Is This Too Orange?, Asher's second studio album shall be known as RetroHash and it really does exist!

Asher Roth


Label: Pale Fire
US Release Date: 2014-04-22
UK Release Date: 2014-04-22
Label website
Artist website

It's amazing how much something can change in just five years. In 2009, Asher Roth couldn't make a move without being compared to Eminem. It didn't matter that he sounded almost nothing like Slim Shady, the thought of another white rapper trying to emerge into the mainstream was nearly impossible to fathom at the time. There's no shortage of white rappers on the market today, and they certainly owe at least a fraction of their success to Asher Roth for breaking down the barrier.

The culture of the rap game isn't the only thing that's changed in the last five years. Asher Roth has almost completely reinvented himself as a musician. School Boy Records saw the success of the fun, carefree singles like "Roth Boys" and "I Love College" and wanted to push Asher as a frat boy rapper. The result was the disingenuous collection of forced pop songs making up Asleep in the Bread Aisle. Asher is one of the best when it comes to just throwing on a cool beat and banging out some multi-syllabic rhymes like it's nothing, but it was always evident that there was so much more to him as an artist. When you try to shove him in a box and feed him to a certain demographic, you miss out on what makes him interesting in the first place.

Luckily, in a world of easy access to recording equipment and independent releases, labels can't contain artists. If you want to see what Asher's debut rap album should've been, check out Pabst & Jazz. If you want to hear the other side of Asher and dive deep into an experimental amalgamation of alternative hip-hop, then welcome to RetroHash.

While Asher Roth has worked plenty with Blended Babies in the past, the production on RetroHash is unfamiliar territory. It's far from any traditional rap beats you'd be used to hearing Asher on. There's a strong focus on live instrumentation with a slow tempo, a deviation from the more aggressive rap beats you may be used to hearing Asher tackle. "Dude (featuring Curren$y)" is really the only traditional rap song you're going to get on RetroHash. The album is roughly 50/50 on rapping and singing. Asher probably isn't someone that comes to mind when you think of the singer/rapper hybrids out there, but thankfully he does have a palatable voice and he makes it work.

It's a big risk, especially after being acclimated to the comfortable mixtape environment for so long, and there's a good chance that such a focused experimental record like RetroHash could fall flat on its face. Whether it's a commercial or critical success is really irrelevant. Asher Roth has the freedom he has longed for his entire career, and in turn he made the album that he wanted to make.

From a critical standpoint, RetroHash does have its missteps. It's a mere ten tracks long, and considering that five of those songs were released to the public before the album, it'll be a bit of a disappointment to Roth fans eager for new material to discover that they've already heard half the album. Some of the hooks are lacking, and some of the songs are so left-field ("Tangerine Girl") that it creates a huge hit-or-miss scenario. That being said, when the album is good, it's really good.

RetroHash will be getting a lot of burn this summer. Every song has something different to offer, and ten tracks really ends up being the perfect length, leaving you wanting more. "Parties at the Disco", "Fast Life", and "Be Right" are personal standouts, but ask ten different listeners their favorite tracks and be prepared for ten different responses. The mellow vibe and cool instrumentation make it a fitting soundtrack for a summer evening. Let's just hope it's not another five year wait until Asher's next studio album.






Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.


Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".


The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.


The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.


Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.


​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.


John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".


Roots Rocker Webb Wilder Shares a "Night Without Love" (premiere + interview)

Veteran roots rocker Webb Wilder turns back the hands of time on an old favorite of his with "Night Without Love".


The 10 Best Films of Sir Alan Parker

Here are 10 reasons to mourn the passing of one of England's most interesting directors, Sir Alan Parker.


July Talk Transform on 'Pray for It'

On Pray for It, Canadian alt-poppers July Talk show they understand the complex dualities that make up our lives.


With 'Articulation' Rival Consoles Goes Back to the Drawing Board

London producer Rival Consoles uses unorthodox approaches on his latest record, Articulation, resulting in a stunning, beautiful collection.


Paranoia Goes Viral in 'She Dies Tomorrow'

Amy Seimetz's thriller, She Dies Tomorrow, is visually dazzling and pulsating with menace -- until the color fades.


MetalMatters: July 2020 - Back on Track

In a busy and exciting month for metal, Boris arrive in rejuvenated fashion, Imperial Triumphant continue to impress with their forward-thinking black metal, and death metal masters Defeated Sanity and Lantern return with a vengeance.


Isabel Wilkerson's 'Caste' Reveals the Other Kind of American Exceptionalism

By comparing the American race-based class system to that of India and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson makes us see a familiar evil in a different light with her latest work, Caste.


Anna Kerrigan Prioritizes Substance Over Style in 'Cowboys'

Anna Kerrigan talks with PopMatters about her latest film, Cowboys, which deviates from the common "issues style" approach to LGBTQ characters.


John Fusco and the X-Road Riders Get Funky with "It Takes a Man" (premiere + interview)

Screenwriter and musician John Fusco pens a soulful anti-street fighting man song, "It Takes a Man". "As a trained fighter, one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned is to walk away from a fight without letting ego get the best of you."


'Run-Out Groove' Shows the Dark Side of Capitol Records

Music promoter Dave Morrell's memoir, Run Out Groove, recalls the underbelly of the mainstream music industry.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.