FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS ’08: Asher Roth:
So Far, So Good

Believe it or not, Asher Roth hadn’t released a song professionally before his first mixtape, the DJ Drama and Don Cannon-helmed, The Greenhouse Effect, hit the streets June 13. A month and a half later, Roth is drawing Eminem comparisons and fueling his fast-growing buzz via freestyles and YouTube clips alongside A-list stars like Akon and Ludacris. And to think Universal, parent company to Roth’s recording home SRC, didn’t know Roth was signed until recently.

Unapologetically silly, AR manages to sprinkle political opinions, battle-ready verses and hilarious quips throughout Effect. Interestingly, in Roth, hip-hop’s buying public finally has a voice: an upper middle class suburban kid who is more frat boy than dope boy. XXLmag.com caught up with the Atlanta transplant to discuss his upbringing, being passed up by Jay-Z, and catering to the black audience.

Most rappers talk about growing up in a single parent home in the projects, how did you grow up?

It was the normal childhood. You think of the suburbs. You think of the trees and the quiet streets, people going for walks and pushing strollers. It was like that. I moved, but…Morrisville, [PA] is not the best place on earth. The school system is like 500 kids that are an entire school from 6 to 12th grade. It’s really small, so I ended up moving across the street, so I can get into a better school district at 6th grade, which was crazy because, I was leaving a small suburb that was 500 people in a school from 6 to 12 grade, to a high school that had 1000 kids in a graduating class. That was crazy for me. But it was a very healthy lifestyle growing up. I think it has kinda helped me with hip-hop. I’ve always been outside looking in and got to watch objectively. That’s how it kinda impacted me.

What did your parents do for work ?

My mom was an aerobics instructor for almost 20 years of her life, and my father was a consultant. He’s still doing the consulting. Now my mom is a full-fledge astrologer. She’s one of the dopest, dopest tarot card readers ever. I’m telling you. She’s real legit. It’s not that Miss Cleo fake shit.

Has your mom read your cards?

Actually, I shied away from it for the longest time. I never really knew what was going on until about 18…I realized my mom… she’s been studying astrology all this time. I think, even when she was young, she was. Finally, when I was started to make the move and everything like that, I finally had her read my cards. The reading was very positive, very reassuring.

Are your parents supportive of your music career?

Real supportive. At first it was a little like you know, “What’s going on here? This is rap music.” Rap music was the last genre coming into my house. My mom has been down with the rhythm, but it was more or less the Temptations, Earth Wind & Fire, more soul music like Stevie Wonder. That’s what she bought. My father was into Bruce Springsteen and Dire Straits. My older sister listened to Tevin Campbell and New Kids On The Block. And finally, I got into it like 98 when I was in the 6th or 7th grade when I was actually starting to develop my own opinions. It was just edgy. It was different. Your parents didn’t really want you listening to it. So it’s like, “Ohhhh, I like this.” It just really had an impact.

So, on Roth Boys. You say, “Jay passed on me for Pittsburgh slim, but in the end, I am kicking it with Steve Rifkind.” So Jay had a chance to sign you, but didn’t?

It was in his office. I spit a lot of bars. I was there for like 3 minutes rapping straight. It was crazy. The dynamics of the whole thing. Obviously, I don’t really deal with the business side. But we went with Rifkind cause he’s a big, big homey. It was cool for me, cause he was gonna allow me to let me be creative. That was very important for me. Steve got it right off the bat. With Jay, it wasn’t anything like that. It’s just the way the cards dealt.

But you referred to Pittsburgh Slim, so you’re basically saying Jay passed up one white kid for another?

I mean when I met Jay. Jay was so influential. Jay is the first hip-hop album I bought, [In My Lifetime: Hard Knock Life] Vol. 2 in 98. That’s how late I got into hip-hop. When I walked in there, I just wanted Jay to give me a hug and shed a single tear. That’s just how I was feeling. It’s nothing against Pittsburgh or anything like that. I’m not one of those dudes to beef with people. I don’t think it’s about dissing people, but I understand the competitive edge to it.

How about Rifkind, how did you connect with him?

We were in New York. The Rifkind/Jay-Z thing were pretty much the same day. I walked into Rifkind’s office. It was starting to be like a video game, cause he had me rap for him and then pressed the button and came this one boy that wanted to battle me and we had this battle session. It was like Mortal Kombat or some shit. I went through that whole, I guess you can say test or some shit. He asked the interns, “You guys think he’s nice?” They were like, “Yea, he’s nice.” We went out to dinner and had the initial talks and it all sparked from there.

You linking up with DJ Drama and Don Cannon, was that a hook up from Rifkind or a PA to ATL connection?

That’s our homie. Nobody saw a penny from that. It was just straight for the music. Cannon used to JD [Asher's manager] Scooter’s parties back in college. He got at Cannon and said, “I got this artist I really want you to meet.” Cannon and I just hit it off right away. At first they were all hounding me cause I was wearing flip-flops. But then I rapped and they were like, this kid…I dig it. Not to mention, PA all day. It was kinda of a match made in heaven.

Whose idea was it to call The Greenhouse Effect, “the greatest mixtape ever?”

The greatest mixtape ever came afterwards and I take responsibility for that. It was more Scooter’s belting. But my whole reason for that, the studio downstairs is called the green house for obvious reasons.

Towards the end of Roth Boys, you said, “I ain’t even a rapper.” You don’t consider yourself a rapper?

Here’s the thing. I think that there’s a difference between a rapper and an MC. I kinda consider myself more of an MC than a rapper. Just because…I’m a performer at heart, man. I write these songs and so on and so forth, but my whole thing is to write these songs and then go share them with the world. Not through radio, not through internet. I wanna go out and reach out to people through live shows. That’s the whole energy, man. People can really feel the song through that. We’ve been putting together this live show with my live band and it’s really dope. And I really encourage people to come and just party with us, cause that’s really all it is. Come have a good time and have fun with some good honest music.

Your myspace has photos of you taking a dump while on the laptop. Aren’t you concerned that people won’t take you seriously?

It’s tough, but at the same time, it’s important that people understand that I have a sense of humor. And I think another thing is, hip-hop is really, really serious. People been telling me “You’re a breath of fresh air,” which is great, man. I want people to just relax for a second. They make life hard enough. You know how hard it is for people to pay their f-ing bills on time? I don’t want to listen to my favorite type of music and be reminded how hard life is. I’d rather laugh. I’d rather smile. I’d rather have a good time while I listen to music, cause music is an escape for a lot of people. . It’s gonna be hard. I’m definitely fighting an uphill battle, but I’m not gonna come on being this whole serious straight forward dude cause I’m real lighthearted.

You could probably blow up from suburban kids only. Are you still gonna try to cater to the black audience?

Well, I just put out a mixtape. I think that goes to show that I care about everybody. It’s not about like…people say, “This is a game. You gotta do business out of stuff. Like you just said, people are saying, “Yo, you don’t even need the mixtape audience, you can just go right after these white kids. But nah, the black community is hip-hop. Of course the white kids are buying the music and they’re just as hip-hop too. Hip-hop is definitely in the burbs and people can’t deny that. Hip-hop has gone into the burbs and is affecting the white kids. I’m a voice for the white kids because, that’s who I am. I can’t change that, but that doesn’t mean that black people can’t relate to what I’m saying. I think a lot of black people are starting to pick up on it. Like, “Wow, I don’t look like him, but damn, I kinda feel the same way. Why the hell isn’t Bus in jail for treason, but Clinton gets impeached for bustin seaman?I feel that way too.” I think there are a lot more emotions and moods involved that human beings regardless of what you look like can relate to rather than just how I was brought up. -Carl Chery

  • LOL

    Richie Cunningham raps?

    • DevilintheFlesh

      WAX,
      this guy I found on youtube…..I think he’s sick as hell….

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8qzeRvvakU

    • Josh

      Not every “white rapper” is a gimmick or a joke. Go listen for yourself….

      http://www.myspace.com/dizzydfanclub

      I live in Buffalo, NY, and they play this guy on the radio all the way up here and he’s from the South.

    • b.C.

      Damn, look at the tags for this article. Hah

      And why are most of these comments dated from as far back as July?

  • chris

    I wont be surprised if this kid goes platinum. He reminds me of a white lil wayne. The amount of accepted faggotry in hip hop is so disgusting. Kanye fans will make him top 10 watch.

    • lol

      doogie howser m.c.? this guys blows

    • gz up

      ^
      yea ok Asher. stop writing about yourself. the white wayne? disgraceful. check out geolani if you want that real hip hop shit

    • patkilpat

      Shut the fuck up I’m a huge, long time Ye fan and this guy is just solid.

      “This rasin in the sun came from grapes of wrath”

      myspace.com/patrickkilpatrickisshadowgovernment

  • iBomb

    Dude is alright. Its a lot of hype right now, but i think he has the potential to be real good. Check out what they think of him at Bombin @ http://www.bombinmagazine.com/blog

  • Mac Sleepy

    I Know People Might Hate But I’m Gonna Give Him A Shot.. Simply Cuz He Real. He Ain’t Puttin On A Front, And To Me Thats Real Hip Hop…

  • The Real Kartier

    Aite man, you got jokes but the kid is NICE. Check the “A Milli” freestyle.

    • WANG

      yea i recall hearin his a milli freestyle on sirius radio

      i thought it waz cool but mad ppl waz callin in hatin

  • SDUBB-google-me

    Hey good luck. Fuck Jay-Z and Rifkind I hate when these mutafuckers want somebody to spit. Why in the fuck am I here you know what the deal is cut the check man so I can get back to the lab. I bet you niggas ain’t have Rick Boss Hog Ross, Soulja boy, Ying Yang Twins, Jeezy or Shawty Lo battle. You know why? Becasue they can’t freestyle, shit who does now days except for me. That’s why we record demos and make music to let it speak. What the fuck is this Enter the Dragon”. Fucking Kareem Abdul Jabaar pops out in his b-boy stance and kicks a mean 16. “I’m swerving on the yellow brick road on you lames/I’m the Scare Crow w/Dorothy trying to get me some brains. Lets collab soundclick.com\sdubb

    • bar10

      ok u rap iam working on a cd of some real sexy email me if u down bar10@att.blackberry.net

    • http://xxlmag.com the brown

      @ SDUBB-blahblah
      Yo! Yeah ok, but except Kareem Abdul Jabaar was in “The Game of Death” not “Enter the Dragon”. I see you workin tho.

  • DJ Knox

    I know niggas gonna clown dude for OBVIOUS reasons, but this kid really raps. Better than a lotta so-called dudes out here. No names, tho.

  • Philly

    Asher Roth is alright. He isn’t great. When I hear him I think of a young Eminem, and thats a bad thing. We already have a Eminem. He needs to try to come up with more his own style. One thing I would also focus on is his image. Todays music industry is becoming more and more about image. The image I get from him and his videos is a college kid who isn’t focused enough on his music.

    • SouthCakC23

      he has his own style…..he’s the college kid who isn’t focused so much on making the almighty dollar off his music and more so on giving the fans what they want.

      You contradicted yourself…..

    • chad bro chill

      ur a disgrace to philly asher rith is white and therefore is more educated and intelligent than….

  • enochth3ryda

    ya’ll make me sick yo.. Another white boy who can’t spit, but is gonna make a killin off of spoofin black culture, fuckin uncle toms.. XXL is on the payroll of thisis50.com, so ya’ll are fuckin dickriders. seriously.. fuck this new age rap suck the white mas cock bullshit, and fuck payolla you whore for the money ass bastards. YOU KILLED HIP HOP!

    • Dante

      Someone get this guy a tissue

      • EReal

        What a butthurt idiot, WTF are you even talking about, douchebag?

    • Becca

      No Souja boy and flo rida and ying yang twins killed hip hop and all those people who buy there shit killed hip hop,and why do you care if someone is embracing the black communtiy what the hell is the big deal.

  • Skolar

    hey, how much is this cat’s publicity team paying you guys anyway? i don’t know a single person in the real world that even knows who asher roth is, let alone likes his music, but i can’t read any hip hop sites these days without some stupid report about every little move this kid makes, and most of it is unadulterated garbage.

    there are cats dropping entire albums that get less blog play than this nobody recording the 6,000th mediocre “A Milli” freestyle this month and posting it on MySpace, so what’s the deal? who’s pushing this kid on us?

    hip hop fans, wise up, this dude is a stupid fucking gimmick and you’re buying into it if you believe the blog hype. the whole ‘bamboozled in reverse’ schtick is played out as hell and it’s not like suburban white mc’s are really a surprising new development in the music biz. seriously, somebody’s pulling some strings somewhere — fess up.

    • sam H

      asher roth is the best thing to happen to rap and even if he is not a great lyricist he attacks the money culture that rap seems to have develouped a ballsy move for someone who is yet to establish their name but are indirectly going after a lot of famous rappers

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  • 239allday

    I hope Eminem murders this nigga…ehhem, excuse me, I meant cracka. I don’t really fuck with white boy rap because it be on some wierd shit. But white boys can battle like a muhfucka.

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  • ri067953

    Yo, if you guys dig this kid, I’m telling you, check out Lexicon’s album “Youth is Yours” from 2003. If you think this kid is dope, you gotta check out this album. I think they were the greatest white rappers out there.

  • Rmoney

    In this interview he talks about Emimen and how rap is really in the burbs
    http://www.complex.com/blogs/2008/07/28/asher-roth-rap-is-in-the-suburbs-now/

  • Rmoney

    In this interview he talks about Eminem and how rap is really in the burbs
    http://www.complex.com/blogs/2008/07/28/asher-roth-rap-is-in-the-suburbs-now/

  • yoprince

    please don’t push this garbage upon us.. like i said i don’t wanna hear somebody’s affable college roommate rappin.. and eminem was always nicer than this dude..

  • mike simmons

    SAY I HEARD

  • Mike Stone

    some of you dudes get too caught up on race and the fact that old dude dont rap about puttin a hole in someones chest. While this dude aint the best rapper ever on the basis of one mixtape…he aint bad so far. talkin bout shit like this killed hip hop? At least dude aint perpin’. thats what killed hip hop. Perpin’.

  • DWI

    dude sounds like a rich PUNK! fluck the suburbs! ill teach his mommy some aerobics!

  • Pierzy

    I grew up near this dude and I’ve always thought he was wack. Here in Philly, we’re not feelin’ this Slim Shady knockoff.

    • chad bro chill

      just cuz u got no life and comment about everything on this website doesnt mean u can speak for philly nigga i live there

  • jokim

    fuck the hatin bullshit…this white boy nice with it.

  • TWAN

    HATIN ASS BITCHES. ASHER ROTH IS NEXT. THE MIXTAPE IS SERIOUS AND DUDE LIVE SHOW IS THE TRUTH. ALL YOU BITCHES TALKIN SHIT IS JUST MAD BECAUSE YOU AINT ON AND THIS WHITE BOY IS GETTIN HIS. I HATE BITCHES WHO HATE. GET A LIFE. KID IS NICE

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  • grp03

    I’ll support anyone who cares about hip-hop, has heart, and refuses to change his style to cater to the majority. People like AR are always gonna have a lot of haters for the obvious reasons. However, its also true people love and hate for the same reasons. Just look at these comments, people are either really excited about this kid’s future or they can’t stand him.

    On a slightly related topic, I find it ironic that hip-hop is dominated by blacks, but a record will only sell if white people buy it. Then again, that might be because there are more white people in this country, but I still find it funny.

  • luci fur

    anybody see this clown in XXL? he got the keg party picture like john brown. i though that was weird.

  • OG Matt Herbz

    Fuck Asher

    I fuck pussies cleaner than a gynecologist’s wife’s.

  • KLETEWOOD

    YEA…its hard to put the sound of EMINEM behind him.

    I listened to his mixtape; he sounds just like EM<. But, younger with newer topics.

  • Profhit3

    Nice ashtray to pluck my ashes on, or play when I entertain my white clients.

  • Serious

    the amount of haters on here is serious. get a life if youre not going to bring something constructive to the conversation. half these dudes prolly aint even heard his mixtape. yeah dude looks fucked up even for a white dude but the kids got skills. if dude was black half this mess wouldnt be on here.

  • Mr.Washington

    You dumb ass haters are the exact reason why hip hop sucks! Complete fear of anything diffrent or thought provoking. Go snap dance.

  • Ant

    U FUCKIN HOMO’S HATIN ON THIS KID ARE THE ONES WHO KEEP SLIP-N-SLIDE IN BUSINESS!! PLIES IS FUCKING GARBAGE AND YOU BUY THE SHIT UP, RICK ROSS IS A HUGE FUCKIN PHONY AND NOW YOU TURN ON HIM BECAUS OF THE PICS ONLINE?! DID U FUCKING RETARDS THINK HE WAS FOR REAL UNTIL THEN?! THIS KID ASHER IS RESTORING HIP HOP HEADS FAITH IN HIP HOP BECAUSE MOST OF US GAVE UP AFTER SOLJA BOY AND D4L AND PLIES WHOSE IS THE WORST EVER!! CHECK OUT THE MILLI FREESTYLE OR ROTH BOYS OR DEY KNOW, HE KILLS ALL THREE BETTER THAN YOUR FAVORITVE EX-DOPE BOYS!!

  • HipHopFive15

    Lol, Profhit3, all you fuck haters, go play wit traffic son choke on a dick. Faggots hatin cuz dude is white. Aight ima hip hop head i dont give a fuck where someone from or look life if the dude can spit the dude can spit period. and this dude can spit. period. fuck anybody hatin.

  • eric

    my man is NICE.. philly suburbs finally got someone killin it and standin up for some good messages

  • C$

    I don’t understand why you all don’t give him a chance (obviously because he’s white). But its cool though. A lot of people didn’t think twice about Eminem, and now nobody, regardless of race, can’t put him top 10 all time. And if you say you can you just aren’t educated on hip hop thoroughly. Go read up and come back.

    AR kind of reminds me of Lupe. He talks about topics that most aren’t. Issues that people like myself who have moved beyond the whole “bang bang, I killed this guy and slang this much dope” days of hip hop.

  • some dude

    come the fuck on. why is it you tools flame each other on these god damn message boards. if you don’t like the dude, hit your fucking back button or turn off the sound. you act like if dude gets on it’ll be a personal affront to you because only the fucking hardcore xxl.com commenters are real hip hop fans. get over yourselves. fucking jokes.

  • Infomus..

    Wow! i never thought there was a cat that woule make Micky Avalon look talented…but there it is…fucking Opie ass bitch!

  • DADE COUNTY 305

    IM BLACK, A COLLEGE GRAD FROM U OF MIAMI, BORN AND RAISED IN MIAMI(LIBERTY CITY), GREW UP IN SCOTT PROJECTS & I LOVE HIP HOP… MY POINT…. THIS KID CAN SPIT!!! THIS WHITE BOY SPIT BETTER THAN 95% OF ALL THESE RAPPERS.

  • northern california bay area

    sound slike hes having fun…

    n whats more hip hop then havin fun…

  • tko ghost

    atleast this dude aint frontin… mafuckas is lovin rick ross cop ass and yall hatin on white boy cuz he tellin the truth in his life let him atleast drop an album b4 yall hate damn

  • Sansay

    I see a LOT of haters in this blog. Seriously, the kid is fucking dope. I listened to the greenhouse effect for two months and I’m still listening to it in amazement. And don’t think for a second I don’t know hip-hop because I was one of the strongest believers that hip-hop was dead until cats like him and Lupe came out. Give the dude a chance and stop looking for the gangbangers and block hustlaz music and listen to reality. This kid is the truth.

    Oh and whether you like it or not, he’s gonna blow up. Controversy leads to success. Look at Em.

  • wetto

    THIS DUDE IS A BITER.

    a sucker.

    not because he’s pale. but because he’s copying Em to the fullest. cmon, man.

    we’re giving this dude attention strictly because he’s white. fact. he’s nice… for now. a real crtique of his style and music will have to come after he’s released a full project. for now he’s a biter. well done, sir.

  • M2

    The guy is cool…If you still have issues with him you either didn’t read the entire interview or just blew it off on the fact he is white and from the burbs

  • gerv

    This muthafucka can rap and at least I ain’t seen him commin wit no type of fake shit.He just talkin about his life and his perspective who can’t respect that.Oh yeah I forgot yall wanna hear about killin,guns,jewelry,cars,and dope.

    • http://www.classandgrime.com RCV

      Amen Gerv Amen.

  • trupredator

    there is only two white rappers in the industry worth listening to.because i havent heard any one else who can step to them.thats haystak and eminem.period.haystak is underground.sellin more than most industry cats.def jam tried to sign him and he turned them down cause hes makin more money under ground.plus he is down to earth he goes to different towns to help showcase local talent.if you dont know who haystak is you need to give him a listen.he gets mad props and guest appearances from bun b,8 ball,scarface.hes known but people are sleepin on him cause he is underground.this dude asher sounds cool but he needs to set his self apart.before he goes the way of paul wall.one hit wonder

  • Afi K. James

    This guy is just godawful, I Don’t like him at all, he’s another retread of eminem (who wasn’t that great either, except the song stan), except even worse.

    Just plain sucked.

    Thumbs way down.