What have you been busy with?
Just working on the upcoming album, doing a couple other projects and getting with other artists. Just basically doing the rounds.
Your mixtape, The GreenHouse Effect Vol. 1, is out and since then everyone has been talking about you. How do you feel about that?
It feels good, it always feels good to get recognized for the work that you do. That’s why I’m here, it’s for respect. Everyone’s been receptive to it and it’s been humbling.
Bring us back to Asher as a kid, how were you raised?
I was raised in Pennsylvania. My childhood was pretty much just baseball and tennis in the offseason to keep the hand-eye coordination strong. Just growing up it was the ‘burbs and sports, my little league baseball team was two games away from the Little League World Series. That was my claim to fame back then. I was the centerfielder and leadoff batter. That’s how I got down.
When did you realize you had talent as an MC?
I got into it about 10th grade with my man Brian Sellers aka Footy. We would go down in his basement and take a couple beats off the internet and rhymed over it and we ended up selling them in High School. Burning copies we ended up breaking our CD burners and sellin it around school. We sold 250 copies in two days and the response to it was like we were celebrities. It was cool but it wasn’t serious, I wasn’t going around saying, “Yo I’m the rapper.” In college I stuck with it. Sometimes instead of going out I would hang out in my dorm room and record over some industries beats and put them up on MySpace for people to hear. People were always really receptive to it. It’s something that I stuck with and it naturally worked itself out.
On the new mixtape you worked with two heavyweights, Don Cannon and DJ Drama. How did you guys connect?
We linked up because Cannon used to DJ at Scooter’s college parties so they had a connection there. Scooter wanted me to meet Cannon and we hit it off right away. We would always joke around and he would clown on me for wearing flip-flops and all of that but he realized that I am a real authentic guy because with me what you see is what you get, he respected that.
As far as DJ Drama, when I linked up with Cannon he ended up talking to Drama about me. I came in there with my flip fops[laughs] and got the same kind of response but sure enough he saw what everyone else was seeing, that I have authentic and real talent.
Does being backed by those two powerful voices in hip-hop give you more confidence?
It’s always good to get the cosign. When you have people who have been in the industry and been around hundreds and hundreds of rappers and to get their confidence in you is very important. Getting a co-sign from those guys and hearing them saying that I am the real deal and that they want to work with me is definitely a confidence booster. It also helps because you stop worrying about what risks you take musically with that confidence you just do.
Besides those two obvious cosigns you have made the opinions of other established artists very public through MySpace and videos. Why do that?
I guess the obvious reason is because people don’t like to accept something that is brand new. If your friend or favorite artist likes something then you are going to want to check it out. It’s funny because people hit me up and say that they saw the quote on the MySpace so they had to check me out.
One of those artists with an opinion on you goes by the name of Jay-Z. What was your experience with him?
Jay is great, man. It was wild because when I had met Jay it was a complete surprise. I was at the Def Jam offices and was meeting up with Shakir Stewart (current CEO of Def Jam) and just hanging out with him and basically doing an introduction of myself and he liked what I was rapping about. He said he wanted me to rap for a friend of his and I was thinking I was going to rap for some females because you know if the females like you then you can make it. So I was getting ready for some female interns or something but instead he made me take a sharp right into Jay-Z’s office and Jay starts to walk towards me with his Roc-A-Fella chain and the Roc-A-Fella shirt and I’m just like, Damn!’ and started laughing and walked out of the room. I came back in and said, “I’m sorry, man, I don’t normally do that but you are Jay-Z!” I rapped to him for like four straight minutes which was like 150 bars and he was just like, ‘You are really, really nice!’
Now you have heard many established acts express their opinion about you but what do you think about yourself?
Well, I got a long road ahead of me, man. It’s a very long journey and the work is only going to get tougher. I got a lot of goals set for myself and a lot of stuff to get accomplished. I’m no where near done so I feel like there is a ton of potential, but you have to realize that success isn’t earned without hard work. I’m not satisfied with what I have so far and I don’t know if I ever will be satisfied. It’s great to have everybody be receptive of me but that feeling of accomplishment has not sunken in yet. I’ll let you know when it has.
How would you describe your style?
I would say my style is nonchalant and witty if I had to use two words to describe the way I am. I am very laid back, funny, and humble but at the same time I keep it clever so that people will think, ‘Did he really just say that?’
You seem to give off a college suburban partier vibe. Is that something that you are proud of?
That’s exactly who I am [laughs] I can’t run from that, I’m definitely a suburban college kid. I’m having a great time and I love what I do and it’s not like I wake up every morning and everything is the same, every day is a new experience for me and I really appreciate that. The persona that I am giving off is exactly who I am.
Do you ever feel like this image will negatively affect how people listen to your music?
That’s up to the listener. I don’t think it should, but if they are turned off by the fact that I am a suburban college kid then I know that they weren’t my fans to begin with. I’m not even worried about those people.
How do you feel about people calling you the next Eminem or the next whiteboy to blow up?
Personally I feel like there will never be another Eminem. I’m Asher Roth and I think as time goes on people will realize we are entirely different artists. Naturally people compare stuff to things they have already experienced and there are not many other white boy emcees that done did it on the mic. The comparison is only natural but all I can do is be me.
How will your debut album sound?
It will be really organic. I work with a live band and when I do tours and shows we are really dope. I encourage people to come out for a show because it is an experience to say the least. I like to ride with that live instrumentation, organic and drum-heavy stuff. I try to shy away from all the synthesizers that people have grown accustomed to in hip-hop right now.
Have you started working on the album?
That is exactly what I am working on as we speak. I’m about to go out to Chicago and work with Chuck Inglish of the Cool Kids and then I’ll go meet up with Devin the Dude. I’m also working with Novel who is really dope and organic. I’m trying to work with people who have the same interests and views on music as myself. That is what the album is going to portray.
Are those the only artists that you have so far?
We’ll see what happens, right now those are the ones that are official. Of course Akon is going to be on the album, Akon is my man. There are a dozen more people that I have been working with but nothing official yet, all I can say is, we got plans!
Who’s on your dream list of collaborations?
It’s interesting because there are not a lot of people that I would not want to work with. I think it’s always awesome to put creative forces together from different music worlds, I think it would be fun to bring people in who don’t normally do hip hop records. Other than that I mean I don’t know one person who wouldn’t want to do a record with Kanye. Also people always ask me if I would do something with Eminem and I say of course because that would be a beautiful thing.
What kind of concepts or subjects would you be touching on with the album?
Well it’s about my life, I got the singles dropping called “I Love College” and “Blunt Crews”. Stuff like that but I don’t want to let all of the tricks out of the bag, I want people to be surprised when they listen.
One subject you seem to touch on the most seems to be the stereotype of a rapper. Do you consider yourself a breath of fresh air because of your new style that you bring to the table?
I’ve been told that a lot. It’s hard to consider myself a breath of fresh air but I can see where everyone is coming from. I’m not an avid radio listener but it seems to me that a lot of people get a prototype and a cookie cutter sample of what a rapper should be. I’m just doing me and if people want to consider that a breath of fresh air then I’m honored and I would definitely be that breath of fresh air.
So at the end of the day what is the message you want people to learn from listening to your music?
I want people to be themselves and not be scared of who they are. I want people to understand unity and self expression because those are two powerful messages to me. I’m putting my head on the chopping block because people will think I’m crazy for being comfortable in my own skin in this age of hip hop. I think it is important to portray that so that people are no longer scared to be who they are and will want to be themselves.