“Foie Gras” Lives Up to its Name – Asher Roth Mixtape Review
For those who do not watch Top Chef, “foie gras” is a staple fancy food that is simply a fatty goose liver. That sounds like something you would never want to consume, right? Wrong. Believe it or not, foie gras is surprisingly delicious. It is a straight up party in your mouth. That’s the correlation I would like to make with Asher Roth’s new mixtape, Seared Foie Gras with Quince & Cranberry. You never really thought you would like it, but some of it is devilishly good. Unfortunately, I would have to say that the mediocre songs outnumber the good or even great songs, and it probably is something you will not indulge in frequently, just like foie gras.
The best part of this album, hands down, is the gorgeous assortment of samples that Roth uses to rap over. Samples seem to have always been the moneymaker for Roth. Whether it is the Ben Kweller sample in “Fallin’” or the Weezer sample in “I Love College,” Roth has an obscenely acute ear for great hooks. This is brilliantly exemplified in “F*ck The Money,” the standout track from the mixtape. Add rapper B.O.B. and producer Kanye West to the scene, and you have a jam. The piano and lyrics from Joni Mitchell’s “River” are so obscure that it is simply refreshing to listen to some pretty tight raps over the fresh loop.
“Hot Wangs” is another great example of a hot sample, pun intended. Produced by the ever-melodious Will.I.Am, “Hot Wangs” samples Talib Kweli and Will.I.Am’s “Hot Thang.” The guitar hook is nothing short of hypnotizing. I challenge you to listen to this song without nodding your head – good luck.
As I am sure you apt readers have noticed through my slick name-dropping skills, this mixtape has some unbelievable producers attached. It is a venerable Grammy parade. As the grand marshal of this marvelous procession of producers is Grammy-nominated Madlib with “Muddy Swim Trunks,” a decent little ditty to kick off the album. This is directly followed by the Grammy-winning hip hop genius of RZA with “Toni Braxton.” In case you are not impressed yet, let me throw a few more names on the table. How about Grammy-winning Timbaland on “Cumbaya”? Does that do anything for you? Maybe these rap producers are doing nothing for you; that’s fair. But if you are willing to forget the Grammy credibility, how about a remix of Roth’s “Sour Patch Kids” featuring Talib Kweli and Blu that is produced by – wait for it – Travis freakin’ Barker. Needless to say, this song is like a flashlight in a field of candles.
On another note, regrettably one of the best parts of this album is also one of the worst. You might notice how I’ve been calling this album a mixtape almost the whole review. The reason for that is the way that DJ Wreckineyez has mixed the album together. It is interwoven smoother than a cashmere sweater. I really appreciate the subtlety and skill involved in making several songs into one seamless track, but, unfortunately, the times of the songs are a bit off. Due to this you may have 10 seconds of another song leading in at the beginning of a song, or you may have none. It makes listening to individual tracks kind of a chore. You can get into what you hear immediately, but chances are, it has no correlation to the song you are actually about to hear. To make matters worse, this release is just not good enough to listen to the entire tape every time you want to hear some Joni Mitchell or a Travis Barker remix. If you can look past the editing, however, you absolutely have to take a look at some of these tunes. I recommend “Toni Braxton,” “F*ck The Money” and “Con-fid-ence.” Unfortunately, these tracks are too explicit to sample here, but you can find the entire album online.