Yes We Can: Asher Roth
Posted: 10/01/2008 :: Author: St. James
Asher Roth isn't like you other rappers. Read on as SRC Records signee Asher talks to StreetCred.com about racism, the education system, Barack Obama, getting support from Akon and much more.
Asher on race:
"...this quote could probably get me in a lot of trouble…..I feel like the white man uses the black man to get to where he wants to get to. Then the white man doesn’t extend his hand to the black man to then get him where he’s gotten."
St. James: What's up Asher? How you feeling?
Asher Roth: Blessed, like I said I’m back in the matrix with this song ("I Love College"). I’m feeling good, not looking to be too accessible but I’m blessed. I’m healthy that’s what matters (laughs).
SJ: So since the last time we talked...that was your first major interview...
AR: That was the first one. You started it. Now look what you did. It’s all your fault.
SJ: So you are going to blame me? (Laughs) Now we full circle and back.
AR: It’s all your fault. They should be so mad at you!
SJ: So coming full circle now, how are things coming along? You dropped the mixtape with Drama. How was that received and what’s ahead?
AR: It’s been incredible. It's like living a dream. I have no complaints man; I’m doing what I want to be doing; linking up with some beautiful people and making some beautiful music. I think that’s the most important thing, I’m able to be doing what I want to be doing with people that can broaden my horizons. Like we were just talking about hanging out and the time with Beanie Sigel and you know just getting the time to know them as people and not just artists.
Something that I try to do in my music and portray is that I’m “you and I”. I’m not some guy you should put up on a pedestal. So I think first and foremost that has been incredible. Being able to experience new places. Like I’ve never been to Vegas before! I’ve never been to Colorado before. I was in Virginia Beach for the first time. I’m getting to experience new things with people that I have grown up watching and idolized. I’m just waiting to wake up. Just put it that way.
SJ: So the general net consensus seems to be that the “Roth Boys” video was hot and the mixtape was banging. What are you going to hit them with next?
AR: Well that’s the thing; you have to constantly keep hitting them over the head. People lose interest and will move on to what’s going on next. But I’m going to stick around for a while, I’m working on the full length LP, but it’s a very visual world that we live in. I’m always doing new stuff as far as what’s going on in my life. We just added the Kyte thing to my repertoire so I can broadcast live. Like if I put the Skype on I can do the interview live like me talking to you could be broadcast on the Daily Kush right now. But I’m just continuing to make music and make videos to entertain the people to make sure I don’t go stale.
SJ: Can you tell us producers you are working with, artists? Or are you still keeping that under wraps?
AR: The surprise element is still there. I still think it’s cool when you go pick up the CD and be like awwwww...I didn’t know so and so did that track. I get excited about that. So I’m going to let you all get excited. The expectations are crazy and everyone is saying this and that, but all I’m going to do is put out the best Asher Roth product and that’s what I’m going to do. The best music possible and hope people enjoy it. And in my heart of hearts I think people will receive that.
SJ: As far as the direction you have taken your music and package, everyone still wants to compare you to Eminem. So one more time for me, tell the people why you are NOT Em and where you are coming from.
AR: On my birth certificate it says Asher Paul Roth. That should be enough evidence to let everyone know what’s going on. But that’s too easy a comparison man. It’s very important and I think time will differentiate the two of us. It’s too easy, a white kid that raps? Of course he’s going to be compared to Em. It’s a bummer because I have a different sense of humor and am a little more political. But you can't be mad though. Em is a beast. He’s one of the greatest to ever do it; top selling artist of all time. If you are going to compare me to anybody, please that’s a cool comparison. As far as packaging and image...I hate to say image because it’s so real and so authentic what you see on these videos and what not. Some people may not like me and say “he’s a fu*king nerd”, which I am. I’m cool with that. But it’s not like I’m at home doing chemistry. I just crack a lame joke from time to time. That’s what it comes down to. What you see is what you get with Asher Roth. I think that’s very important for the audience to know . I wear flip flops in public. I wear no shoes. This is not some game or made up sh*t.
It’s unfortunate that people even have to question if it’s a gimmick or not. That’s how hip hop is now. Like I’m a white kid from the burbs and people may be like “what the f*ck is he even doing rapping”? But that’s how real and inspirational hip hop is. Suddenly, I don’t need to mention any names, but it went towards the direction of ringtones and singles. Hip hop was never about that. It used to be about let’s put the beat on, speak our minds and have a good time. I want to know where that went. But I’m going to tell you straight up, through me and other artists that are coming up that haven’t got their shine, hip hop is going to come back. Through me we are bringing hip hop back. And some people may be like "what the f*ck is this white boy doing” but if they open their minds and give it a chance they will understand that no mater the color of my skin, “I Am Hip Hop”. It doesn’t matter, brown, purple, green, blue it’s not about color anymore.
People need to unite and make it as music for people. And if we can do that, we’re going to succeed not only as hip hop but as a country. And in this day and age, with Barack Obama being a metaphor for it all, it’s time for change. It’s time for people to be honest with themselves, and be honest with the people they are communicating with. And that’s what I’m bringing to the music. Honesty. It’s not about the stage. That’s why I don’t have a stage name. That’s why my name is the same as my real name. Asher Roth. It’s not game. There’s going to be confusion and there’s going to be people that say “f*ck this kid, he’s Eminem” but at the end of the day, the people who really matter and are real human beings will be like Ash is on to something and I respect him for coming to this game, you and the whole StreetCred fam know this, fake motherf*ckers get put out the game real quick. Hip hop music will eat you alive. And the fact that a white boy from Pennsylvania can come in this game and hang around for even 3 or 4 months that says something.
SJ: I saw the videos of you eating dinner with Ludacris and teaching Cannon how to play "beer pong". What is it like to have their support?
AR: It’s been incredible. First and foremost I have to shout out all those cats. Without them, I don’t know if I would have had the confidence like that. I’m a very humble kid man. I’m very much a human being. I have emotions. I get upset sometimes and angry like anyone else. But being who I am and when Andre 3000 and Akon, and Luda they look me in the eyes and tell me, “continue to do what you are doing”, that’s why the blog comments and things like that could never get to me. I know in my heart of hearts that I’m comfortable in my own skin and who I am. And Akon and all those guys have solidified me to keep doing what I’m doing and the people, the real people, not the internet gangsters, are going to respect that. And they will be into what you are doing. That’s the thing, I’m just continuing to grow, I’m telling you like the first Asher project is not going to be the best Asher Roth project. I’m still figuring out who I am as a human being. And that’s real. And I’m running on my feet. I really feel that down the road my music is going to keep getting better and better. That’s exciting. That’s exciting for me and for anyone who is a fan of hip hop music. Like I said, this is a beautiful experience that I don’t take for granted. It could all end tomorrow.
And Cannon is a big homie. That’s how we got together for the Greenhouse Effect. It was common interest and friendship. That’s something that I also think is missing. Like what’s up with collaborations? I don’t even know if there are any real collaborations anymore. We have artists that are on records all the time. But artists aren't genuinely going into the studio with the other artists and kicking it with them. Like the megastars, they’ve got their own schedules and like have to be in China the next day and I understand that. But I think that it’s dope when two or three artists can go hang out in the same room and make a record. Like I think that’s missing. The unity. It just needs to be there. It’s so important because that’s what hip hop was built on. The come up and the struggle. Making it together. I can’t speak about the struggle specifically. I grew up in a comfortable child hood and I wouldn’t change that for the world. But at the same time and what I’m doing right now it’s a total uphill battle, but I think it’s a beautiful thing that’s going to bring people together, more than it’s going to tear people apart.
SJ: So you talked a bit about politics earlier. I want you to give people that angle of Asher Roth and not necessarily the humorous white guy on the mic. You have a serious side and position in that regard correct?
AR: I mean I don’t want to act like I’m trying to run for President. And I don’t want people to think I think Barack Obama is going to change the world. He has a lot ahead of him. But I think Barack Obama is the symbol for change. He is the symbol for us wanting something new. We have seen what’s been going on for the last 8 to 16 years and it hasn’t really been working. 8 to 16 years...it really comes down to the last hundreds of years I apologize. But when you look at the Constitution, it says that all men are created equal. That goes for women, everybody. We are all made up of the same thing. I mean human emotions and so on. But I want people to understand one thing. It’s just a bummer for me, because people take shots at me as a person because I’m hip hop. They don’t even know who I am and they are going on preconceived notions. And from a political standpoint or whatever you want to call it, people need to drop stereotypes. Barack Obama, I hope to God he gets elected. He’s not going to change the world. There is a lot that us as registered voters and citizens need to do to play our part in order for this to work. We need to play our part. As far as that goes, it’s time to hit the reset button. It’s almost 2010, there is a lot of sh*t going on, and we can’t change some things.
I think it’s time everyone take a deep breath and look at each other as humans. The whole race thing is crazy, because people are getting at me because I’m white and I do rap. And it’s crazy because my best friend in PA, who I can’t wait to get back to see is African American fam. Like I’m in Vegas at a table hanging out with Scooter (Asher's manager) and 9 black dudes and I don’t think twice about it. Like I don’t even recognize it. But people are like, what the f*ck is this white kid doing? And I understand all that. But from a political standpoint, I think Barack Obama is the perfect deal. And I saw a comedian and it was funny...he was like “let’s just ease into it (laughs)". I understand it’s a crazy world and people can barely pay their bills but it’s time for us to look at each other and say “we’re all human” and we’re in this together.
SJ: So what have you been listening to these days or who’s vibe are you feeling as far as music is concerned today? And what did you think of the KRS One/Soulja Boy summit on BET?
AR: To be honest I haven’t really been listening to a lot of new stuff as I’ve been working on my project. I’m kind of removed from it.
I think first and foremost we need to respect our elders and those that came before us. So from my standpoint, Cube, and Nas, and KRS-One always are going to get love and when it comes down to the elders and stuff, I would love to hear what they have to say. And that’s where I come from, I am more than interested to hear from cats who have 10-20 years in this game. I would love to get that kind of guidance. I’m just growing up in this and I can only control what’s going on in my world. And I know in my world some things are f*cked up. So I’m reaching out to everybody especially through this interview. Streetcred.com is the perfect place to do this, just reach out to everybody and say, as the new blood we have to pay homage. There is no real new blood. Do you realize that? Who my age is really doing something? There are a handful. And most of the ones doing anything are the ones who have been putting it down for years. I am 15-20 years younger than some of these guys. So I come from almost a different world in its entirety. And being a white kid from the ‘burbs, I may come from a different world. But I think if hip hop opens up its mind and just listens. I mean like I spit on BET, just listen. And no matter where you come from, or what your race is, just listen and let’s just have a conversation. I feel like we’ll be moving in the right direction.
I just really get bummed out about the race thing. It bums me out. Like I understand completely, the struggle, like it’s ridiculous and this quote could probably get me in a lot of trouble…..I feel like the white man uses the black man to get to where he wants to get to. Then the white man doesn’t extend his hand to the black man to then get him where he’s gotten. And it’s kind of crazy for me because like New Orleans is a perfect example. It was almost like; we want these people to die. Like George Bush, that’s not how I feel. You’re not representing us very well. But I think you know, we can't always hold these grudges. We can't hold it for the rest of our lives, but I think it’s time and I’m talking to the new blood really. We need to represent that change. The new blood needs to step up and be like okay. And it may not come from me because I’m a white kid. And people may be like “what the f*ck does he know, f*ck this white kid”. There needs to be new artists that step up and say "f*ck all this sh*t, it’s almost 2010 and if we don’t move this sh*t forward, we are going to be stuck here forever".
SJ: That’s some real sh*t.
AR: I’m just going to keep it short and concise and people say the press will twist your sh*t and your words. But I speak from the heart. And that’s all I can really do. Like I said, I grew up with people from all different walks of life. Like I come from the ‘burbs or whatever, but the ‘burbs are the ‘burbs and the same happens in the city. So I’m totally looking outside in on hip hop but I don’t deny things and I know where they come from. I’m just a very humanistic person. I am very much about moods, emotions, and this earth. I’m not pushing my opinions on anybody and people will feel different. You are not going to be able to please everybody. But I think it’s important that the core of us, people should start listening to themselves and stop letting outside influences really affect their decisions. I feel like nobody wants to be a bad person or evil, ok there may be a few cats, but for the most part I think as a whole everyone wants to be a good person and it’s just a matter of having that opportunity.
On some real sh*t, and past this interview because I’m talking to you like my dude, f*ck this interview, I was in Virginia Beach and me and my agent were talking about the schooling system. I think it’s so important that we get this education thing right. Like in California, Gov. Schwarzenegger is cutting education costs, like your teacher needs that. Like the kids aren’t getting a chance to learn. And they feel helpless. These kids are our future and our everything. I’m hanging out with 10-11 year olds on the basketball team and they know every words to Lil Wayne's “A Milli”. They know every word. These are kids that are 11-12 years old. And as hip hop that’s why we have to be careful about what we are putting out there. Because even if we are joking and at 18 we get the joke, these 11-12 years may not get the sarcasm. They may not understand it as well. It’s so unfortunate, because like the schools and education, especially in the hood it’s like…"who the f*ck cares about Christopher Columbus?”. Some of these kids are visual learners and there are 15 different types of learning and we’re like open this book, go to page 59 and get your education.
I’m the first to tell you, I wasn’t an incredible student, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t smart. And they are totally neglecting these kids that are in impoverished areas because they feel like they are not going to learn anyways. And that’s so f*cked up because that’s not the case. These kids are hella intelligent and very smart and are not getting the opportunity because they want us to learn about Christopher Columbus or some sh*t. Like who cares? And that’s why teachers and educators need to spend more time with these kids to find out what they are interested in. Because by the time you get to 16-17 years old and you’ve worked your way through the school system and there’s nothing there for you, it’s like I might as well sell drugs. I might as well make money somehow because I’m hopeless. And that’s why I went to school for elementary education, to be a teacher and I came to hip hop and I said f*ck it I’m going to make a difference.
I just started in this thing man but I really hope I can bring some honesty and hope to these kids. Because you can do anything. No matter where you are from. It’s just a matter of knowing what you want and wanting to go get it. It’s just so crazy. I’m a perfect example. That’s why I’m going to the polls on Nov. 4 and putting Barack on my f*cking ticket and continuing to put myself in a position where when I speak people listen. Because I’m not saying I’m right or I’m wrong or I'm the best sh*t ever. I’m saying that there is hope and we can move forward.