Asher Roth is a man unchained.

Four years after his debut album Asleep in the Bread Aisle, the Pennsylvania rapper is back with an official announcement for the long awaited followup, Retro Hash, after freeing himself from his contract at Def Jam. The announcement came from Roth's Facebook page earlier in the week, and was subsequently followed by the release of the first full track, "Pot of Gold."

The road to his sophomore album was far from easy, as fans saw announcement dates for The Spaghetti Tree and, subsequently, Is This Too Orange come and go amidst a number of mixtapes. The 28-year-old rapper seemed noticeably excited and at-ease, speaking to XXL about the new record and what it means to be liberated from his label. —Luke Tedaldi (@LukeTedaldiXXL)

XXL: What has changed for you, personally, not being with Def Jam for the new album?
Asher Roth: I'm not with a major label anymore, so the discipline has to really be there. You don't have anybody telling you what to do or where to be. Obviously, what we do when we're creating is really important, and there are strong influences in the media that can really affect what we do. It's been nice to rid myself of anything that would have me second guessing or thinking about things negatively when I'm creating.

"It's almost this fear tactic. I got the chance to meet the Wizard of Oz, so to speak, and it's like in the movie where you see him, and you're like, 'Really? It's you?'"

Has that been an issue for you in the past, the impact of the media or management?
When you sign a record deal, they let you know that you have the responsibility to sell records, so you get incepted with this thought process of, "Is this going to sell?" How real is that? If you don't sell records, you lose your job. It's almost this fear tactic. I got the chance to meet the Wizard of Oz, so to speak, and it's like in the movie where you see him, and you're like, "Really? It's you?" After looking behind that curtain I said to myself, I just want to make music with my friends and not think about it. Not worry about if this is going to sell. It definitely came down to asking that question, and some people out there I'm not sure if they do ask that question, "What do you want to do and what do you want to accomplish?" As much as I want to be successful and I want people to recognize and hear my music, I also want to make music that I'm happy with. I'm not saying that I never did, or that I was never doing that, but now it's just about having fun and making music and nothing more. That's awesome to me.

What was your inspiration behind this album?
It's a record about freedom. About trusting yourself and being yourself, and I think that's pretty awesome. I want to continue to challenge myself as a songwriter, as well as a person, to just get better. I don't want to settle and be content, I just want to make music with my friends, and I think this record really embodies that, and it's one of many new offerings for the new year. There's a lot of other stuff that I have, and Retro Hash is just the kick off of this newfound freedom.

On that note, what can we look for in the New year?
We still have the Rawther project with Travis Barker and Nottz, and some stuff that I've been working on with Pete Rock, and you know, that will come, but right now my focus is definitely on making sure that people hear Retro Hash, and understand that we don't want to just do the same thing over again. I can't say it enough, we want to have fun and make music with our friends.

Do you think that's reflected in the sound of the album?
It's wavy, man. It's moody. If anybody is familiar with the Blended Babies [production] work, it's definitely moody. If they're familiar with Pabst And Jazz, there are a lot of elements of that. Obviously I've gone through a lot of stuff in the past 3-4 years in regards to maturing and growing up and being more reflective and introspective. Getting to be who I want to be, forget the business, forget the entertainment world, it's just who I am in life and that's the kind of stuff that we reflect upon in Retro Hash. It's such a cool record man, I'm so proud of it. We experimented and we played around, and that's what it's all about.

This record means a lot to me. it's not like, "Here's your song about weed, and here's your girl song, and here's your club banger." It's just an album  of songs that the Blended Babies and I created while we were hanging out, and we're really excited about it.

Having such a large break in between official records, is there anything that you want to get out?
First and foremost, I have so much appreciation and happiness for the fans that have supported me through all of this. It's hard for people to understand what goes on behind the scenes, but for people to want you to win, to be rooting for you, is awesome. It's not every day that you're going to want to get up and write and make something. You're not always going through something where you need music to be there for you, but it's when kids come up to me when I'm in Europe and say, "Your music saved me. I was going through so much stuff." That to me is incredible. And selfishly, obviously, I want to be recording music, but having the fans there to encourage you—when you get that positive reenforcement and you get people who encourage you to keep going—you go. [The album] is one big thank you, and one big hug for everybody who has stuck with me. I think it's going to be a big 2014 and beyond because of the freedom.

So when can we expect it to be out?
It's going to be out super soon. I don't want to give you a date right now, but it will definitely be in the first quarter of 2014.