Alas, it turns out that a writerly portrait of the personal and professional angst of a 50-something white man was not what hip-hop was aching for, and despite debuting at No. 5 on the charts, Roth's major-label debut doubled as his major-label swan song. It's a song that hints at a maturity beyond the rapper's years, but otherwise, it's hard to be too disappointed that Roth's attempts to make hip-hop more bro-y and bro-friendly did not succeed, perhaps because hip-hop-loving bros already have the stellar party music of folks like Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre; they didn't necessarily need it from someone who looks and acts like them as well.
After that, Roth's career entered a state of flux. He signed to Def Jam and Loud, then left before releasing any albums; dropped a few well-received mixtapes and worked with big-name producers like Swizz Beatz and Pharrell on what was to be his major-label follow-up, The Spaghetti Tree; then eventually released Retrohash independently in 2014, which was produced entirely by production team Blended Babies.
Released almost five years to the day after Bread Aisle failed to make him Eminem with a major, Retrohash suggests that Roth finally found himself and figured out who he was: a hippie. On Retrohash, he trades in the nasal raps and braggadocio of his debut for a jazzy, spacey sound that shifts organically between a more relaxed version of his flow from Bread Aisle and laid-back crooning.
As its title suggests, Retrohash is a mood album above all else, a blissed-out Labcabincalifornia to Bread Aisle's manic, wisecracking Bizarre Ride II, and while it lacks that album's sustained brilliance, it has a laconic, shambling charm all its own. On Retrohash, Roth stopped trying too hard and embraced his destiny as a weeded-out spiritual searcher.
The results aren't strong enough to suggest the world made a terrible mistake rejecting Roth the first time out, but they do convey that Roth is far more interesting, compelling, and substantive than his hacky initial brush with fame would suggest.
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Nathan Rabin is a longtime pop-culture writer and the author of four books, including a coffee-table book about/with white and nerdy rapper "Weird Al" Yankovic and another about slightly less respected white rappers Insane Clown Posse. Follow his dope sentiments @Nathanrabin.