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PAPERBOY: Slow Jamming The Alt-Weeklies

paperboyartthumbnail.jpgBY DAVE ALLEN Like time, news waits for no man. Keeping up with the funny papers has always been an all-day job, even in the pre-Internets era. These days, however, it’s a two-man job. That’s right, these days you need someone to do your reading for you, or risk falling hopelessly behind and, as a result, increasing your chances of dying lonely and somewhat bitter. That’s why every week, PAPERBOY does your alt-weekly reading for you. We pore over those time-consuming cover stories and give you the takeaway, suss out the cover art, warn you off the ink-wasters and steer you towards the gooey center. Why? Because we love you!

ON THE COVER

CP: Brian Howard takes to the water and navigates the Schuylkill from the Walnut Street Bridge to the Delaware, attracting the attention of halfway-house residents,Sunoco workers, and the Coast Guard. Why? Same answer many mountain-climbers might give: Because it’s there.

You learn quickly that everything looks different, and a little sinister, from the water: 30th Street Station, cp_2009_04_16.jpgCHOP, even that ridiculous “Master P-Nut” Snickers billboard off 76.

The water is not exactly appetizing. Debris — from driftwood and leaves to snack wrappers, detergent bottles, traffic cones and condoms — can be seen a bit too readily from this vantage point.

This section of the river, everything south of the Boathouse Row waterfall, is tidal. It’s not brackish, but it rises and falls with the ocean. We soon realize we’ll have the tides working against us all day: rising as we head toward the Delaware, and falling as we’ll paddle back. So it goes.

Howard takes in some unlikely sights and skirts off-the-radar neighborhoods, noting landmarks that often escape notice of those who traverse the city on foot. The participant-observer account isn’t loaded with revelations about the river’s water quality or news of its ongoing revitalization, but it’s colorful and vital with a feeling of persistence behind its meandering. He makes us see the river as the heart of the city, hidden in plain sight.

PW: BMac and contributor Christopher Wink chart the rise of Bucks County-bred rapper Asher Roth. They assess the furor over his legitimacy (or lack thereof) in hip-hop circles, and dig deep into both the hype and the haters surrounding Roth’s recent breakthrough.

ashercover_1.jpgHe’s been named one of MTV’s “MCs to watch,” been put on the cover of XXL magazine, been knighted “the future” by Beanie Sigel, endorsed (“co-signed”) by Young Jeezy, Ludacris and Akon, joined on Asleep by heavy hitters like Gnarls Barkley’s Cee-Lo Green and Busta Rhymes, added to the annual Roots Picnic, and has put out a mixtape with highly influential DJs Canon and Drama.

In other words, he may be poised to change the face of hip-hop.

West Chester University is where Asher Roth became enthusiastic about scholastics. It’s where Asher Roth—white geek with a Norman Rockwell upbringing—became Asher Roth, potential next big rap star. Thing is, the two aren’t very different at all. And considering this is hip-hop—a genre notoriously hamstrung by issues of authenticity, street credibility and “keeping it real”—that’s rather remarkable.

Much is made of Roth’s recruitment and signing, as well as his Eminem-esque delivery, but there’s still an elephant in the room — and a white one, at that: Where are the comparisons to the Beastie Boys? Frat-friendly odes to crushing beers and macking on girls from unsuspecting white guys? That’s Roth’s real ancestry. On top of that, his big hit samples Weezer, for goodness’ sake. Still, cred is due to the writers for their blog-savviness and for taking on both the music and the marketing with honesty.

INSIDE THE BOOK

CP: I, for one, would like nothing more than to whip a sucker’s ass. “The man goes to fringe music shows in this city like the Bible Belt goes to church”… and I salute him for it. It’s Chinatown, but don’t forget it. Taxes: the post-April 15th edition.

PW: Every review of this place makes me kick myself that I haven’t been there yet. Soon, soon. Well said: “I would have listened to Harry read a law school textbook.” A long wait, a scared witness and, finally, justice. An album review with a Crazy Town reference? Ba-zing!

WINNER: I was already leaning toward CP’s cover story and the accompanying photo gallery when I caught a reference to “I’m on a Boat” on the table of contents. Boom. Winner. Take a good, hard look at the motherfuckin’ boat, indeed.


Asher Roth, “I Love College” from Make Major Moves on Vimeo.

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