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Asher Roth Explains Def Jam Signing: “They Believe In Me”

Over the weekend, thanks to a tweet by Senior Vice President of Island Def Jam Shawn “Pecas” Costner, news broke that Asher Roth had signed to the storied label. This morning, Asher spoke with XXL to explain some of the details behind the move.

“We understand that Def Jam is ready to compete in a changing music business and a music business that’s changed drastically even since the last time I was out doing commercial music,” he said. “Def Jam has the mindset and resources to compete in this arena, and I know [SRC Records CEO] Steve Rifkind knows that.”

Rifkind, who signed Roth to his label a few years back and put out the former XXL Freshman’s debut Asleep In The Bread Aisle in 2009, explained via Twitter that they would be “partnering with Def Jam” for the release of his sophomore effort, Is This Too Orange?, due out in March 2012.

“I really don’t know the logistics of it,” the Pennsylvania native continued, regarding the deal. “Steve Rifkind is my guy. He was the one that gave me this opportunity in the first place and that will never go unsaid nor unnoticed nor unappreciated. Steve Rifkind is almost a second father to me. He really believes in me. Every time I talk to him, he wants to figure out a way to help me win. From a historical standpoint, when they asked me if I wanted to be with Def Jam for these upcoming projects, it’s kind of a no-brainer.”

“Major labels kind of get a bad rap,” Roth said. “I think that if you can supply them with this new age school of content, content, content, and they’re willing to give you the freedom to do that using a major label strength and resources is a win-win.”

Though he’s had some ups and downs since bursting into the mainstream with his 2009 single “I Love College,” Roth is confident that his new situation will allow him to thrive. “The music business is not exactly artist friendly all the time,” he acknowledged. “It’s a tough business to be in. I’ve sat in that room with [people at Def Jam], and told them what I want to do, and told them my vision, and they believe me. They really are into what I’m trying to do. Whenever you get that level of excitement and dedication and attention from a major label, I expect nothing but good things.”

In addition to a release through Def Jam and SRC, the album will be dropping on the formerly defunct Loud Records, which folded in 2002 but has now been resurrected by Rifkind. “The equation is pretty good when you say Loud plus Def Jam,” Roth said, adding that he didn’t know what other plans Rifkind had for the resurgence of the label. “But that all means nothing if the music isn’t good. And that’s really what I’m excited about, because no matter what label this comes out on, I’m geeked for people to hear the new stuff that we’ve been doing.”

“It’s definitely done, and someone needs to stop me, because I’m gonna keep creating stuff,” he said of the album. “That’s just how we work—it’s never done. We’ll see if anything gets born in the eleventh hour, then so be it. For the most part, it’s done, it’s ready to go.”

Though the official sophomore album won’t drop until early next year, the Roth will release a project on iTunes, Pabst & Jazz on December 20. All proceeds from the release will go towards The Philadelphia Hunger Coalition.

“Now is the time to start having fun,” he concluded. “Enjoy your holidays, because when you get back, it’s gonna be nothing but Asher Roth. And it’s gonna be a lot of fun.” —Adam Fleischer

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