|Asher Roth (pictured in New York) rapped with enthusiasm Tuesday. (Rob Loud/Getty Images)|
An intoxicating showcase of hip-hop up-and-comers
Rap phenoms Asher Roth and Kid Cudi have dubbed their current coheadlining tour “The Great Hangover.’’ Folks who attended the sold-out show at the House of Blues Tuesday night probably also woke up with a touch of whiplash yesterday as the odd-couple labelmates showcased opposite ends of the hip-hop spectrum.
Cudi, whose debut album won’t be released until August but who is already generating major buzz, took to the stage shrouded in darkness. Backlit by blinking lights and a video screen displaying planetary systems and cartoon skies, his face was sometimes barely visible.
Roth, who made noise with his April debut, “Asleep in the Bread Aisle,’’ was drenched in bright light, every theatrical facial expression and nuance of his nasal enunciation detectable.
The Cleveland-born MC Cudi stood alone, moving infrequently. He focused on his microphone and his brooding yet bouncy rhymes, occasionally alluding to his DJ.
Pennsylvanian Roth had a house party on stage that included a drummer, a DJ, a main hype man beefing up his rhymes, two utility guys who danced and donned costumes, and, at one point, a gaggle of ladies from the audience busting their moves.
Cudi, up first, was the serious and mysterious artist spouting atypical, sometimes spacey lyrics about flat-chested women, mortality angst, and celestial visions. The rhymes played out over a tangle of rhythms and samples that owed debts to disco, rock, and UK garage.
Roth was the snarky, sometimes sophomoric entertainer. He ranted and giggled about partying, girls, and both his allegiance to role model Eminem and his consternation about the media comparisons of the two, as a more straightforward hip-hop sound boomed from the speakers.
Both played their parts with energy and panache, and both drew the biggest cheers for their current hits, Cudi’s relentless bouncer “Day ’N’ Night’’ and Roth’s “I Love College,’’ a frivolous ode to getting high while getting a higher education.
The all-ages crowd had no trouble switching perspectives, heartily cheering references to drinking and dope-smoking during Roth’s set and spitting most of Cudi’s yet-to-be released rhymes with an intensity that should make his accountant happy, assuming it can be translated into sales.
Sarah Rodman can be reached at email@example.com.