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Asher Roth: School’s Out

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Yes, you are going to compare him to that White guy from Detroit. But moving on, in this early stage of his rhyme career Asher Roth is displaying the chops to carve out a spot in the Hip-Hop space. Hailing from Morrisville, PA, the pale skinned MC has a DJ Drama and Don Cannon endorsed mixtape (The Greenhouse Effect), a year old record deal with Steve Rifkind’s SRC/Universal Records and a sizeable amount of Internet buzz (his own TheDailyKush.com is of at least some help). Time will tell if Roth will be more MC Serch than say…Milkbone (no disrespect), but his humility when off the mic combined with the self-assurance he displays when in rhyme mode give the kid a good chance of sticking around. While the 21 year old’s debut album is as yet untitled (“I’m not going to release that yet,” says Roth), amidst stressing the honesty he insists he’s bringing, Roth did mention that you can expect to hear Akon on there, of course, as well as Devin the Dude and Chuck Inglish from the Cool Kids. Guess auditioning for and impressing Jay-Z must not have been a fluke after all.AllHipHop.com: Let’s just get it out the way, how are you gonna deal with the automatic Eminem comparisons/stereotypes that they’re gonna throw at you. Is there a plan for that?Asher Roth: No man, there’s no plan for it. I think things are gonna take care of itself. I mean people are going to realize I’m about 15 years younger and you know as the music starts to get out and people get accustomed to it. It’s no different than the whole JaRule/DMX thing, they’ll start to realize we’re completely different artists.AllHipHop.com: Your rhyming started more as a hobby type thing and it progressed; did you have anything in mind for a career beforehand?Asher Roth: Well I was in school for elementary education so I mean that was the original plan and rapping was just fun, it was kind of just the life. I started doing it in 10th grade, 11th grade, it’s always been just part of the life, real fun and you know I just stuck with it in college ‘cause it was a hobby. Then by the time sophomore year rolled around and I got that call from Scooter [Braun] and everything kind of changed now, I had to take it somewhat seriously. You know obviously the vision becomes a little more valid and it actually becomes a vision, we’re still working on that right now but it’s obviously got its path and it’s on its way.AllHipHop.com: Was it already in your mind like, “I’m nice I can do this,” before Scooter contacted you via MySpace?Asher Roth: I’m a pretty humble, modest dude so with the whole rap thing a lot of people were like, “Yo, you’re nice, you’re nice you should really do something with this,” and I was but just on like a real low level, it wasn’t anything serious. I wasn’t like, “Yo I need to get a deal I need to go get signed,” cause I’m all about the natural process but I definitely had it in the back of my mind that this would be great. This would be great to run with this. But with the music industry it’s not something you wanna put all your eggs in one basket with. At that point in my life, especially being fairly young, you have the ability to make some mistakes and take some risks when you’re real young..I was more or less just like alright, half foot in the door with Hip-Hop, half foot in the door with college, you know.AllHipHop.com: Okay, are you still in school right now?Asher Roth: No, man I left and actually moved down to Atlanta just this January so I’m on a – I like to call it, a leave of absence. AllHipHop.com: Okay, that’s what’s up. When Scooter approached you what made you roll with it?Asher Roth: It’s always been my dream man, it’s always been like what I wanted to do so of course if the opportunity arises there’s no way you can pass up a chance of a lifetime you know what I mean? By the time Scooter hit me up I was like there’s no reason not to jump all over that opportunity.AllHipHop.com: Tell me about the bidding war, what was that like?Asher Roth: That was just wild, it was a little bit surreal but I went to you just did the whole thing through went to Def Jam, John Wiley and everybody was interested, everybody wanted to know what was up. It was the very early stages so obviously there were still questions but it was all love.AllHipHop.com: Who were the main contenders, like Loud, Def Jam, anybody else?Asher Roth: Yes, it was SRC, Def Jam, Warner Bros. and Atlantic.AllHipHop.com: Is there any case when you almost went with one particular one?Asher Roth: Nah by the time we had linked up with Steve [Rifkind], I was pretty much sold with Steve. ‘Cause he’s a big homie man and he’s a business guy and what he’s given to Hip-Hop is kind of undeniable. AllHipHop.com: You have all type of co-signs of artists or executives, is there anyone in particular that’s real special to you?Asher Roth: I mean from everybody it’s always very honoring and humbling to get a co-sign from anybody who’s been doing it for awhile. Some of the artists that was real cool for me was like Jay [Jay-Z] and Andre 3000 were real special because of how influential they were, because like Jay, that was the first rap album I bought in ’98; that goes to show you how late I really got into it. And Andre was the one who kind of taught me just be you, you’re your own fingerprint and that’s all you can be and to meet him that was the first time I was real star struck.AllHipHop.com: Out of all the groups in Hip-Hop history which one do you think you could be a part of or would fit in most well?Asher Roth: I feel as philosophy and where I feel like I really fit in the whole A Tribe Called Quest kind of movement where it’s real laid back and enjoy life and speak the truth.AllHipHop.com: Tell me about the creation of “The Lounge”?Asher Roth: The creation of “The Lounge”, actually man it was created very similar to how a lot of my music is created it always starts with topic of conversation, a mood or emotion. We were hanging out and the beat was just playing in the background and it was Novel and Novel was like, “Yo I got this banger for you,” and the beat came on. It was almost analog at first, it really wasn’t beefed up or anything. I wasn’t really feeling it but it was just going on in the background like some elevator music. And one of the dudes in the room, the engineer had first met me and he’s like, Man it’s crazy just looking at you man, you don’t look like a rapper and I was like, “Well what’s a rapper look like?” It was one of those lightning in the bottle situations just like, Oh there it is. AllHipHop.com: Seems like that’s a constant question or battle.Asher Roth: Yeah, it’s just one big rhetorical question man because really there’s no answer to that s**t because we’ve developed these kinds of stereotypes and s**t but at the end of the day they’re hardly as true as any of the other stereotypes we’ve tended to develop in our society.AllHipHop.com: What’s your family’s take on your new career?Asher Roth: They love it man, it’s been fun for them because it’s always been a lot of talk. My parents will try to tell you that I’ve been rapping since I was like 11 or 12, I don’t buy into that. I’ve been trying to take it serious since probably like 16, 17, 18 years old, but it’s fun for them because they see all the talk stuff manifest and actually see some progress now. And they’re very excited man, they’re just happy I’m being creative and I’m doing something that I love to do.AllHipHop.com: Has there been any case or particular incident that sticks out where your color has basically been a deterrent?Asher Roth:  I mean I’ve been to a couple of clubs here and there, I mean not so much like really blatantly in my face ever been told, “Yo, you’re white get the f**k out of here,” but it’s more or less a couple of people you can just tell sometimes people aren’t really comfortable, people aren’t really buying it, just from body language since like 80% of language is body language. You can really tell when people aren’t having it and sometimes it makes me uncomfortable and whatnot just because there’s haters everywhere but you gotta love the haters man. They’re the best thing ‘cause that’s really the motivation. There’s nothing like winning over a hater.AllHipHop.com: Now, looking back on Hip-Hop history is there any moment that sticks out to you like damn this is the downfall of white rappers?Asher Roth: Oh, the downfall, like looking back…I mean nah. I mean it’s taken its evolution there’s been certain instances we all kind of know certain instances with like Vanilla Ice and stuff where people try to create and manufacture something which always makes people cringe a little bit but I think it’s kind of gone through it’s natural evolution. It’s always tough when they try to do a quick buck thing or money scheme and we’ve seen it a lot with ringtones. That’s more or less the trouble with Hip-Hop recently is because people wanted to get a quick buck and [have] taken away from it’s actual artform. But that’s what we’re here for, we gotta new generation of a few kids that are coming up that I think are gonna [take] it back to artform.AllHipHop.com: Who are some of your main influences if you had to pick three?Asher Roth: I’d say Bob Dylan, The Roots, and Mos Def, but Biggie’s definitely in there too because the reason why I love Biggie is ‘cause when he said something he meant it like, “If I said it, I meant it, I don’t bite my tongue for no one,” so like, he’s the s**t. I can’t really limit it to three but I say Outkast is definitely in there, Biggie, Bob Dylan, The Roots.AllHipHop.com: The first three you mentioned Bob Dylan, The Roots and Mos Def, so what are their traits that you really appreciate?Asher Roth: It’s just that soulful music, I like the fact that a lot of them, well not so much Bob Dylan, but The Roots and Mos have that really jazz influence to them, so I’m a big fan of jazz as well and they just speak about what they know and they speak the truth, it’s just poetic. And Bob Dylan same thing; he’s a lyricist and a lot of people may not listen to Bob Dylan but he was like one of the first rappers, man he’s just great.AllHipHop.com: I saw you on BET rocking the Obama t-shirt…Asher Roth: Yeah man. People tried to kill me for that; they were like he’s trying to pull the Black card wearing the Obama shirt. I’m like y’all are crazy. I’m a huge Obama supporter. I think he’s great, I think he’s what we need right now, exactly what we need to show progress man. I think he’s exactly what we need right now.AllHipHop.com: Now how can we get progress in Hip-Hop?Asher Roth: I think it’s just a matter of keep creating honest good music and I think it’ll shine through. My whole motto is good music shines through and at the end of the day that’s why I’m not really stressing about my career ‘cause I know that when I sit down and I take the time, I’m making honest music and I really think that people are gonna appreciate that. And I think that as long as other artists continue to do the same, we should be okay. ‘Cause I know people want to be honest I don’t think they really want to make this stuff up, it’s not cool. The whole lying thing if you don’t lie, you don’t have to remember anything. AllHipHop.com: How did the The Greenhouse Effect come together?Asher Roth: The mixtape was in the works for a little bit and then I linked up with Drama and Cannon through Scooter because they were DJ’ing his college parties back in the day, we had an immediate connection. Me, Cannon and Drama were all just like laughing and joking so they were hounding me for a little bit but I’m like that dude where everything just rolls off my back. I rolled in with sandals on so of course they’re gonna clown me and say ahhh who is this dude, but after the whole thing and they saw I was a real authentic dude they were just like this guy is real cool. I respect what they do and they respect what I do so we just kinda just collaborated our efforts and tried to make some history.People have been very receptive, of course you’ve got some people who are just gonna naturally hate for the most part a lot of people have been really really diggin’ it and appreciating what I did. I can’t ask for more man because without my fans and the support this whole thing is impossible.AllHipHop.com: Where you came up, how did it affect your music?Asher Roth: Growing up in the ‘burbs you weren’t in it, you didn’t grow up in the quote unquote Hip-Hop scene you had to find it and go be a part of it so I guess the ‘burbs really helped ‘cause I got to see it objectively so I was kind of watching at first. When I got to the point when I was actually involved I understood where my place was, like watched and understood that’s not me but this is, this is what I have to offer. AllHipHop.com: Your candor is appreciated but have there ever been people who say maybe you should play that down?Asher Roth: Play down the individuality?AllHipHop.com: Play down that you came from the ‘burbs.Asher Roth: No, not really. For the most part people just are gonna appreciate me for who I am because people are scared man, people are really scared to put themselves out there and be who they are. They’re like almost ashamed so I wouldn’t change growing up in the ‘burbs. I mean I had a very healthy childhood. like you said raised from a strong family and had some good morals and ethics and I think that’s very important for this career now because moving forward now I feel like it’s a whole karmatic situation. I wanna keep good people around me and I feel that if I do that, I’ma attract that.

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