Asher Roth: Take a Hit of This

Every so often an artist comes along with just enough mass appeal to conquer the swooning hearts of mainstream America and an equal amount of inappropriate content to offend the conservative, uptight parents of the aforementioned mainstream crowd. Could Asher Roth be this new artist? A quick check of his credentials might be in order: Catchy hit single “I Love College” currently dominating the pop charts and iPods of teens across the country? Check. Questionable lyrics promoting the use of drugs, alcohol, fornication and good ol’ American fun? Check. But beer pong skills aside, this new kid on the block is ready to add his flavor to hip-hop and prove that rappers can be good guys too. His plans to share the love begins with the 4/20 release of his debut of his album Asleep in the Bread Aisle, which will come wrapped with a little gift you can use for rolling and smoking the CD -- literally.

Your single, “ I love college,” is killing it on the charts. Where did you actually go to school?
I was at West Chester University and I got about 62 credits down.

Since you loved college so much, did it hurt to leave?
I loved it, but the opportunity of a lifetime came along and I definitely have the luxury of being able to go back to school if I needed it. I was into it, but I also felt like I was kind of just in school to be in school because that’s what you do—you graduate high school and go to college. So the rapping opportunity presented itself and I decided to go test the waters and it was just a snowball effect after that. You can’t blame me for chasing the dream.

Is it safe to assume that you spent those two years like you do in the video?
Yeah, pretty much. I mean, come on, freshman year you’re free for the first time—no parents no rules and you’re 18 years old, so everyone is in their prime of misbehaving. My freshman year was just ridiculous; I was looking for trouble everywhere. And my Sophomore year was like alright, let’s keep the GPA up enough so my parents aren’t pissed and I don’t get kicked out of school, but at the same time—how much can I party? And what’s the minimal amount of work I can do and not get in trouble for? I spent most of college just getting to know who I was.

Are your beer pong skills really that impressive?
I’m pretty amazing, but it’s very much a team sport, so it depends on if I have the right player on my team. And it’s funny because I have said that I am champion (read: cham-pee-yon) at beer pong, so I get challenged probably everyday and I’m like alright guys – it’s not that serious, I’m not that good, like that ESPN shit where it’s a $50,000 prize and these guys hit 85 percent of their shots. I’m competitive, so it’s funny because if I do a show, I go and party afterward and I’ll play beer pong with these kids but if somebody beats me, I always just blame it on my partner. It’s the easy way out.

How do you deal with the different beer pong rules everywhere?
It’s pretty much house rules, but if you come into my house the rules are pretty simple – we play six cups, we don’t play ten, just because the games go faster and people can get in. I prefer that people don’t bounce because that’s on some sissy shit, but at the same time, you’re allowed to bounce but you can get swatted. It’s pretty simple, but we also threw a rule in where if you shoot and the ball bounces off the cup but stays on the table and rolls back to you, you can actually get a shot behind the back – that’s a rule that a lot of people don’t play with. I think it makes it interesting.

You were featured on the cover of XXL’sThe 10 Freshman, Hip-Hop’s Class of ‘09” issue. Out of the 9 artists, which 3 do you think are going to blow up in 09?
I’m a fan and friend of Kid Cudi, B.o.B, and I’m very much a fan and friend of Blu – I think “Below The Heavens” is one the best hip hop albums in a very long time but it just didn’t go where it was supposed to go. Those are the three artists I’m really into, but Charles Hamilton is also a homie of mine and The Cool Kids who weren’t on there are really good friends of mine also. It’s funny because a lot of us are all friends, it’s really like we went to school together. I think that XXL cover was very special in the sense that we all kind of have the same mentality— we’re all of the same generation, we’re lazy, but at the same time we’re very driven to send a message and we understand that hip hop isn’t some get rich quick scheme, it’s very genuine and very sincere. Do you have to play the game a little bit? Absolutely, but you have to play by your rules.

Have you been compared to Eminem enough yet to make you sick?
It is what it is, but I think that when this album comes out, people are really going to be like, okay—that’s Asher Roth. And then I feel really bad for any other white rapper that comes out after me trying to break into the mainstream because they’re going to get a lot of “you’re just a wannabe Asher Roth.” But anyway, that’s just how people categorize, it’s like “yo, I heard something new today and it sounds like this.” At the end of the day there aren’t many mainstream white rappers that have been influential, you can count them on one hand, so it’s a lazy comparison.

What was it like spitting 150 bars to Jay-Z?
It was dope. After you rap for Jay, you want him to pull you in, hug you, shed a single tear and tell you you’re the best thing that’s every happened. Jay was like, “you’re nice,” but it was so early on that I only really had freestyles, so he wasn’t willing to take a chance on somebody that was just a rapper. There are millions of talented rappers, but there are intangibles that go into it and that’s really the attribute to my success, that I can perform and I can actually write a song. That’s why my album is about introducing song writing and bringing the music back. Music is very cyclical and I feel like it’s time that hip-hop gets back to its’ roots. People are going to be like “What the hell is this white kid from the burbs going to tell me?” But I know that music used to be about having fun and expressing yourself and it was very empowering, uplifting music. I can’t relate to selling drugs and struggling to survive, but I respect the struggle and the pioneers who have laid the groundwork for me to be in the position that I’m in.  I can only speak from my personal experiences and be who I am and that’s really why I’m here. I’m in the position that I’m in because I’m genuine, I’m sincere and I’m not trying to hide anything. A lot of people relate to it but at the same time, if you don’t, don’t waste your energy hating – just go listen to something that you’re into.

So you’ve already learned how to deal with the haters?
The hate is very much like a battery, you have to use that negativity as fuel and inspiration and then it balances out. If everything was perfect and everyone was on my shit, the scale wouldn’t be balanced at all, but I still can’t read those blogs anymore. Breaking my computer was the best thing ever because there’s nothing positive that can come from it. Either somebody says something really hurtful, or ignorant, or they’re really into it and it just gives me a big head. All I’WTFgot to do is just keep my head on straight, keep it moving forward, not get caught up in any of the nonsense and go out there and have a good time doing what I do.

Do you consider yourself a serious lyricist?
My stuff is so lyrically driven, but am I speaking over anybody’s heads? No. I don’t really like when people are hard to follow, I do respect lyricists but you need to have a cohesive train of thought that people can follow.  I encourage people to think and to ask questions; that’s the message of my album and very much the message of my career – be yourself and have fun. You come here with nothing and you leave with nothing, so everything you do in between is what makes you. I don’t care about being a good rapper—yes, I want to be considered an artist and I want people to take me seriously—but at the same time, what’s important to me is that people see me as a good person. I like the fact that people feel like they can come out and have a Miller Lite with me. I’m totally down with that; I want to be on a level playing field with my fans. I like being able to be in the crowd and have people say “That’s my guy, I like Asher,” and not just my song.

When does the LP hit the shelves?
It drops on 4/20 and the first 5,000 CDs—hopefully, because they might cut it back to 1,000—will be wrapped in clear, plastic joint paper, so that you can actually smoke the CD, which is dope. Nine of the thirteen songs are produced by my man Oren Yoel, which means that a brunt of the album is produced by someone who doesn’t even have a major label placement, so a lot of people look at my cockeyed like “Wtf are you doing bro? You’re about to drop a major label debut and you did it with somebody who’s 25 years old and has never had a major placement in his life!” But I can honestly say that I had the best time of my life making this album and I know that no one has ever heard this before—it’s fresh. It’s a debut of myself and my man Oren, so I’m excited for his budding career too. It’s very new and progressive but it also brings back the roots, brings back music. I took it upon myself to make sure that I brought back music to music.

What’s the best way to listen to this album?
If people are into it, I do encourage people to burn something down before listening. If you appreciate hip-hop and flexing skills but also content, this is honestly an album that has something for everybody. Fact: We were actually supposed to drop on 4/21, but they made an exception so I would be the only CD in the country dropping on a Monday. 

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