Asher Roth, is an American hip hop record artist from Morrisville, Pennsylvania. He is best known to the Greek audience for his debut single “I Love College” and for the Akon’s assisted track “Last Man Standing“. Beat-Town had the chance to chat with him in a very interesting interview, where we talked about his recent EP, “Rawther“, the Grammys and many other absorbing topics.
BT: I would like to thank you for doing this with us. Last night (16/2) the Grammy Awards ceremony took place. You watched the show, didn’t you?
A: Yes. It was definitely on. I was eating pizza, while it was on and I checked out some of the performances.
BT: Which performance or performances were your favorite ones? I personally enjoyed Kendrick Lamar’s performance.
A: That’s about it! Kendrick was about it! It was cool to see Tori Kelly and James Bay play, because I know Tori well. Pretty much Kendrick Lamar was intriguing and impactful.
BT: Do you think that there was anyone that deserved an Award but he didn’t manage to get one?
A: Yeah! I mean, Kendrick got five, which is great. But I think, Kendrick or Alabama Shakes should have won “Album Of The Year“. It’s just in my world, they are more impactful.
BT: I was expecting Kendrick (Lamar) to won the album of the year too!
A: Definitely, but you know…He got five! (laughs)
BT: Obviously! There is no reason to get worried about it. (laughs)
A: Yes, he made his mark for sure. Especially when you perform such an incredible performance, on such a grand stage, I think he is doing just fine. But yes, I agree, it would have been nice if he’d won the “Album Of The Year”
BT: You just released a new EP, “Rawther”, along with Nottz & Travis Barker.
A: You know it.
BT: Of course (laughs). It was pretty amazing. I would like to know how did this collaboration happenned. I know that you have done another EP with Nottz, but what about Travis Barker?
A: Thank you man! I went on tour with Blink-182, for the “Reunion Tour”, I think in 2010. So I got to know Travis pretty well, we stay in contact and he was kinda the reason that we even came to tour. He loved it for us to be on tour with them, so we openned up for the Blink-182’s reunion tour and Travis & I stayed close and he load some production to a mixtape on “Seared Foie Gras with Quince and Cranberry”, which is a mixtape from that time, around 2010. He load some production and Travis start to working with Nottz, on Notzzes 2012 album, “You Need This Music”, so we were all kinda like working together. When Nottz sends me over some stuff, sometimes Travis joints were on there and you know, next thing to do, we had two really special joints to flesh out into a full idea of us just collaborating together. It’s very natural, we are all kinda friends.
BT: The whole story behind this collaboration is really cool.
A: Yeah man, I mean, it’s nice when the collaborations are very natural.
BT: Are you happy with the output of your EP?
A: Yes, I am. You know, I am moving into the indiependent music and putting out music the way you see fit. You know, it’s a double absorb, because you are in control of the presentation, so I’m happy of how it came out. You know, putting out the music for free and doing that three GoPro video, so you saw the video kinda frist informal presented with the music. The presentation was right to me. But, of course, when you are not plugged into a major label you don’t have a lot of money to play with, so, you know, we couldn’t really get a lot of press behind it and we maximized all of our natural resources, but we couldn’t really take it to the next level, that it would haeve been nice to do. But now we are gonna do ourselves, we gonna tour in Europe and spread the word in Europe and do some shows in the UK and in Germany, in France and do ourselves, but it’s always nice to get a help along the way.
BT: Talking about the tour, is there a chance to see you someday in Greece?
A: I would love to! I’ve never been to Greece. I would love to come. It’s just a matter of plugging up with the people that are booking us, but I would love than nothing more to come and see Greece and be there.
BT: It’s a perfect place for vacations too.
A: Yeah, I know there is just of the record. As a country, I know that Greece is going through some financial troubles, but I feel it’s like one of the most, if not the most, beautiful and historical country. I mean, me personally, I’m into Greek mythology just as an interest and all these stuff. I would love to be there and see that part of the world.
BT: Thank you for these very nice words about Greece. I would like to ask you, besides the tour, what are your plans for the rest of 2016?
A: I want to put out another record, it’s called the ” Red Hot Revival“, it’s gonna be more like a studio album, that will be towards the middle of the year and you know, I want to continue making music and upload content on retrohash.com. What I discovered, is that I enjoy shooting videos. We also have a podcast “Radical Magical“. Actually, our producer of “Radical Magical”, the podcast that we do every Monday, she is Greek, her name is Litsa and she is amazing! So, we do “Radical Magical” on Mondays and then on Wednesdays we like to put out stuff. We called it “Hash Wednesdays”, which we put out like free songs, we are in between album cycles, so you know it’s like sketches.
It’s almost like being able to look at my sketchbook. We also have our documentary series “Raplife“, which is more like a personal look of our day to day, how it’s like and how we work and all of our friendships and things like that, so there are a lot of stuff that we are doing that center around retrohash.com. We are building a multimedia hub right there. You know, music is just a vehicle, it’s something that we put out, but there are more in the world of entertainment that we are really interested in and that’s why we try to bringe in to. Whether, being commiting series and stuff that we’re doing with Lemonade, with Youtube or just more music videos. We just want to give a plethora of different types of content, so people could stay engaged with multiple and different ways.
BT: I’m really looking forward for your next album, because your first two albums were really good.
A: I’m glad that you really liked them, because we try different things. We don’t ever want to do the same thing.
BT: It sounded really different from the stuff other artist give out there.
A: Yes. It’s hard though, because, you know, there are trends and certains things that music is leaning towards and if you are not making that type of music it’s hard to be on the mainstream. But, I feel that as long as we are making music that we really like and that is completely from our heart, I think that, eventually, we will get our time in the zone.
BT: You have worked with many artists, like Chris Brown, B.o.B or CeeLo Green. Is there any other artist that you would like to work with, but you didn’t manage to do it until now?
A: I’m really happy that I just got to work with Anderson Paak for “Making It Work“. I think that Anderson Paak’s “Malibu” album is my favorite album in a really long time. I’m spending a lot of time with it. Another MCs that I would like to work with; Kendrick Lamar, is one of them obviously, Chance The Rapper. Those guys are doing great things, but I’m also working with an up and coming artist Larry June out of the Bay. We have a song titled “Laundry” with Michael Christmas. I really like collaborating with people that I have natural friendships with, because I feel that when you have a nice relationship with somebody, when you have a personal relationship, the collaboration is very fun and I feel that the music benefits from it.
BT: I couldn’t agree more with you. I would like to ask you, how do you feel about the game right now? Both mainstream and underground.
A: It’s nice, as I’ve seen the top of the mainstream stuff and see how the mainstream operates. And then with working with the underground, it’s like “do it yourself”, without money or what, so I’ve seen how this also operates. I think there is a “happy medium”. You know, when you are at the top for the music, you have certain obligations, like with radio, you have certain things that you have to do. That kinda dictate your moves, but you have a lot of access to a lot of resources.
When you are more underground, and you are doing whatever it is that you feel fed, you have a different type of access. You can kinda work with whoever you want and you really don’t have to ask anyone for permission and you just got to do your own things. So, there is a beauty in both, cause we want to be able to do our thing, but we also want the resources, so we can reach as many people as possible. So, I’m just trying to find that “happy medium”, that nice balance between both. You know, popular music must make sure that it has substance and that its music has colors, it makes you feel something. It’s not stagnent, it doesn’t feel plastic, it doesn’t feel like a product. I wanna continue make stuff that can reach as many people as possible, but it’s still has a lot of feeling into it.
BT: Are there any people that particuraly helped you at the beginning of your career?
A: Yes, absolutely. I mean, the first person ever putting me on was Matt McGurk from Philadelphia. It’s just a kid that went to school with my sister and he was instrumentally getting me into the studio and giving me “studio experience”. Then Scooter Braun came along. Scooter Braun was another kind of managerial type with someone who really wanted to go into the business of music. Him and Steve Rifkind. Steve Rifkind, who found Wu-Tang Clan, Pharoahe Monch and Mobb Deep. He and “Loud Records” gave me my first record deal. So, those guys, those three were instrumental, they were just giving me experiences, experiences in music and really kinda figuring out if this is something I wanted to do or not.
BT: Which rappers are your influences?
A: I’m a big fan of Mos Def, I’m a big fan of The Roots, I’m a big fan of Outkast, Kanye West, obviously. His earlier music was really cool, but I like how he’s moving towards the future. There are a lot of people…Anderson Paak‘s stuff, D’Angelo. I dig in the R&B music, but obviously in Jazz. I listen to a lot of music, stuff that you can pull from, like Stevie Wonder. So, all types of music, whatever I’m listening to at the time. I really like Hiatus Kaiyote, I don’t know if you are familiar with them. There kinda of a Soul, Hip Hop, Jazz, Fusion group out of Melbourne, Australia. They are really dope. I’ve spend a lot of time with them. I’m always listening to iconic staples like Mos Def and The Roots. It’s stuff that they are really good at. People are also moving things forward and blending genres of all kinds. The Roots, are doing this for a long time. They are blending Jazz, Hip Hop, Rock N Roll. You know, I just try to challenge myself.
BT: A couple of years ago, Eminem dissed you. How did you feel about it? Do you believe that it was a real reason behind this diss or just a mistunderstanding?
A: No, I think it’s an acknowledgement of anything. A lot of Eminem’s career was kinda him being like a bully. You know, kinda picking people and doing stuff like that. That’s cool! I mean, I personally can’t get into the rap beef, unless it’s something very real and personal, but feel the most that it was an acknowledgement like “Hey I’m out there doing some shit” and Eminem was kinda like “I see you fools!”.
BT: You are pretty cool with this.
A: Yeah, I mean, if the most popular MC in the world knows your name, that’s pretty dope.
BT: In 2011 you & Akon presented “Last Man Standing”, which is by far my favorite song of yours. This track was featured on the official Madden Soundtrack. How did this happen?
A: How the song come up with Akon or how we get on Madden?
BT: I was about to ask you about Madden, but we you can tell me about both topics if you want to.
A: Akon was a part of the crew when I first came up in Atlanta. I met Akon early on Atlanta, there are videos of us together. He was digging in our stuff, so the collaboration came naturally. Then, on Madden, we send the song over them and they really liked it and that’s a thing. If you are making good, powerful music, chances are on to find a home on the right place. So, they just really liked it. It was a powerful song. They felt like it went well with their game and they picked it up! Which is great, because there are outlets like gaming that let people hear your music. It’s not just the radio. You can do things like gaming for people, to hear your music.
BT: That’s true. For example, Kwabs made a breakout with “Walk” through FIFA.
BT: Generally, do you play video games?
A: I do. I play FIFA and I play NBA 2K. These are the best ones. I’m not too good at first person shooter games. The first person shooter games I play is James Bond on Nintedo 64, but not the new ones. The first person shooter games, the new ones, the kids are too good.
BT: Besides gaming, rhyming and performing. How else do you spend your free time?
A: I like to eat well, I like to hang out with good people. Food and people for sure. I take up ceramics. I take up pottery and things like that. I really want to take up surfing and snowboarding, travel the world, play a little more tennis and play a little more chess. So, those are kinda the things I want to implement to my life as a grow up, as like good, productive hobbies.
BT: We would like to thank you for doing this with us.
A: Thank you man! I appreciate that you take your time! I really want to come to Greece!
BT: Do you have any last words for your fanbase in Greece?
A: Just let them know that we really want to come and say “Hi”! It’s really nice to be there, in person and be present! Retrohash.com is really a place to stay up and I am very communicative through social medias, so if there is anyone that is interested in what we are doing, just like you did, he could give us a shot on Facebook and we will be able to make this happen. We are very accessible and we are excited about the future. We are really excited about where we’ve been and where we’re going and I think that is something that the Greek people will appreciate as well. Everything that they’ve been through and where they’re going is an exciting place. The future is bright!
Find Asher Roth on:
Website & Euro Tour Tickets: retrohash.com
Hosted by: Panagiotis Christoulakis & Hektor Apostolopoulos