Asher Roth: Signing With Def Jam, Crashing Parties, and the "Final Four Tour"
First thing's first: Asher Roth does not, nor has he ever, belonged to a fraternity.
The 26-year-old Pennsylvania native and former West Chester University student is coming off his successful December 2011 mixtape Pabst and Jazz, which has more than 115,000 downloads from DatPiff.com, and signed with Def Jam Records in November of last year.
Some may question whether Roth will sacrifice his creative integrity and sell out to gain mainstream success and radio play. But Roth said Def Jam has enough trust in him to give him more than enough creative freedom.
"We sat down, and we had the conversations with them," said Roth. "And you know, they have the resources and they have the ability to genuinely believe in an artist, to get it in the right places. Is the radio necessarily the right place for Asher Roth's music? Who knows?"
The last time many heard Roth was three years ago, during his success with "I Love College," selling more than 1.5 million copies. But his debut sold only a little more than 200,000 copies.
The singles that followed "I Love College" gained little to no radio play, even with features from Cee-Lo Green and Keri Hilson.
"Speaking openly and honestly, this isn't something where I'm like, 'Hey, let's put out a single and put it on the radio. Hey, let's put out an album,'" said Roth. "I'm in no rush to get on the radio and be the biggest rapper there is. I like the slow grind. I like the intimate setting. I like doing the hard work. I just hope that Def Jam understands that."
It may be hard not to factor in the rise in popularity of up-and-coming white MCs as a reason why Def Jam may have taken an interest in Roth. Much like in the early 2000s with artists like Eminem and Bubba Sparxxx, white MCs have become in demand, even with females.
Last year, Yelawolf released his debut album under Eminem's label, Shady Records. After a bidding war with other labels, Diddy and Bad Boy signed Machine Gun Kelly. Though not signed to a major label yet, it's not hard to believe Mac Miller will have his choice of where to sign. Kreayshawn ignited a spark with "Gucci Gucci," but her buzz has since cooled down. And the emergence of Iggy Azalea has given her a home at Interscope and T.I.'s Grand Hustle label.
But to Roth, his deal is because of Def Jam's belief in him.
"I think Def Jam, from my understanding, they were like, 'We believe in Asher, and we believe in what he's trying to do. We want him to come over here, and we think that we can work on a project. We get what he's trying to do,'" said Roth. "Whether that was because of the rise of other white MCs, so to speak, I don't know."
A huge fan of March Madness and Big East basketball, Roth's current 16-date tour, named the "Final Four Tour," will end March 31 in Louisiana, the same date and city of NCAA Men's Basketball's actual Final Four.The purpose of making some dates the same days as big games was to have a different experience than just watching them.
"What we wanted to do was incorporate my sports fandom and live show, which are kind of a whole package deal and a whole experience," says Roth. "And then have postgame parties afterwards."
And party he did.
After making out with female students on stage and trying to light fires in Gainesville, Roth, along with his friend and DJ, crashed a couple of parties on campus.
Not one to roll deep with bodyguards, Roth puts faith that students will not get out of control at the sight of him at their party.
"If we show up and it's mobbed, we're only three deep, and one includes my 145-pound DJ, and I'm the same," said Roth. "For the most part, we trust in the goodness of other people that show up and say what's up. The unannounced thing isn't always the best way, but we've done it before."
Roth said the reception from fans during his performances have been favorable and is surprised of how well they know his recent material.
"It's really awesome to see the reception of Pabst and Jazz, because we're essentially performing songs that have no real promotion on a mainstream level," said Roth. "These kids know every word, and it's really dope to see how they respond to tracks like "Common Knowledge" and "In the Kitchen."
Using Pabst and Jazz as an appetizer, Roth's sophomore album and first with Def Jam, titled Is This Too Orange?, will be released later this year.
Roth describes the album as warm and palatable and says he is excited by how the album goes in different directions, using the album's title as a hint of its creativity.
"Is This Too Orange? was just one of those things where I was literally half awake/half asleep and I had this body of work," said Roth. "And then I did a little research and found out that orange is the color of the creative chakra. It's music that people are about to hear that doesn't sound like anything else."
Asher Roth will perform at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale, on Friday, March 23, at 7 p.m. Visit jointherevolution.net.
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