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Asher Roth & Nottz: Rawth

Self-released

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With its audaciously white-bread lyrics ("In center field for my little league team/Third place in the state was a pretty big thing"), the free Rawth EP won't help Asher Roth win any converts among those who knock the dude as unsuited for the rap game. But for those willing to take his 'burb-hop at face value, Rawth provides copious rewards. With producer Nottz Raw, Roth has corralled several new knockout tracks into this punchy, promising EP. On its most memorable joints, like the Slim Shady-esque (minus the nihilism) "Gotta Get Up," the dynamic duo of Roth and Nottz reminds us what a true collaboration sounds like in an age of hall-of-mirrors ringtone rap. Nottz's beats rock surprising samples, like the Joanna Newsom bit on "Break Bread." They provide an organic basis for Roth's relaxed, ever-improving flow. Little league lyrics aside, this dude Asher Roth might just be for real. (4 out of 5 stars)

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