MTV TJ Challenge 5: My Interview with Asher Roth
If there’s one thing I can verify about Asher Roth, it’s that the man has no shortage of words. His lyrical prowess has been demonstrated in freestyles a-plenty as well as on tracks from his first full-length album “Asleep In the Bread Aisle” and multiple mix tapes. I experienced his way with words when I spoke to him on July 19th and received answers so thorough I thought he may have read my mind and studied the questions beforehand. Perhaps a skill acquired where he studied elementary education at West Chester University in his home of Pennsylvania? Naaaah, probably not. But still… I heard about the collaborative work on his forthcoming sophomore album, discussed his creative process in addition to the influence of social media on his budding career and answered the timely question: What does it mean for one to “‘Lark’ on a Go-Kart”?
Asher Roth was relaxing in LA, watching “Jennifer’s Body” & enjoying a smoothie when we talked and he obliged my curiosities about the “project” he was there working on.
His second album, in the works, builds on the previous experiences gained from “Asleep In the Bread Aisle,” his platinum-selling first single “I Love College” and teaming up with producer (and proclaimed ‘buddy’) Oren Yoel and guests like Cee-Lo, Keri Hilson & Busta Rhymes. Can we expect his same brand of college-friendly, clever hip-hop on the album? Be assured he won’t be coming at you with a folk album or any of that nonsense. As an artist who is still, in essence, introducing himself to an audience, drastically new sounds aren’t likely to appear until albums 4 or 5. ‘Airy’, ‘esoteric’ & ‘warm’ are words he used to describe the sound that will feature heavy-hitters like previous collaborator Don Cannon, Nas and Pharrell as production of the album moves along on the west coast. A release date of August 11th would be a great 25th birthday gift for Roth, but he may be on his G.R.I.N.D. until April of 2011 at the very latest.
When I asked about his creative process, Roth’s response was admirable as he is in the company of many young artists seeking fame and fortune. “I don’t look at it as a job […] the creative process is really just about having fun.”
“Lark On My Go-Kart,” a track off of ‘Bread Aisle’ had me perplexed at what it means to lark….. on a go-kart. “Lark is not a verb!” he told me, “it’s actually a noun.” For all those nostalgic for the old favorite “Saved By the Bell,” recall the character of Lisa Turtle, the woman of Screech’s affections. The ‘Lark’ mentioned in the lyrics and title of the song is none other than actress Lark Voorhies. Another woman whom Roth may dream of toting on his go-kart? Toni Braxton, perhaps, who is mentioned in his brief twitter bio (see: “Grinds Toni Braxton in Vegas”).
Speaking of twitter, I wanted to know why the hell someone with 178,000+ followers doesn’t have a coveted (or maybe it’s only coveted by my fellow MTV TJ hopefuls & I…) stamp of verification on his account. Initially put together by his management, it seems verification was stripped when Roth proactively took over the account and changed the bio to the one mentioned above. So I, proactively, seek to get twitter to officiate @asherroth once more (hey @twitter, help the guy out!) As someone who was essentially discovered via social networking site MySpace, he understands and appreciates the benefit of such sites as tools without which, he declares, he’d not have been exposed to as many opportunities in his career as he has been thus far. His online presence also gives his fans and audience the opportunity to communicate with him, and he with them. A look at his timeline is reflective of his nature of keeping fans in the know about his personal goings-on, album progress and something that myself and many fans appreciate – endearing, anecdotal blurbs that reveal that he is indeed human.
“The world got to know me through “I Love College.” They didn’t know who I was, where I was coming from or anything about me, they just knew that I loved college, women and drinking. Now, through twitter, they can kind of pick up on some of my other hobbies and other stuff that I’m interested in. And with the fans, you really want to incorporate them into your community.”
Such things are possible through the micro-blogging site and he made mention of that in reference to our interview taking place as a result of my involvement with MTV’s Tweet Jockey competition. In addition to the status-updating quality of the sites, Roth uses social media predominantly to promote his work and release music to the masses; it is a tool to be “embraced, utilized,” not ignored. He references David Bowie’s media ambiguity as a mysteriousness not commonly seen among artists these days - resolute of the intensely personal platform that is a twitter account, for instance.
Cognizant of the appreciation fans have for “human interaction on all levels,” Roth notes that an individual has to draw a line at which they maintain some privacy. “Fans want to know everything,” he says. That’s true. I wanted to know about his most embarrassing moment, how he felt about groupies and what kind of indulgence goes on in the studio, but a ten minute interview wasn’t nearly enough to cover that much ground.
Asher Roth has words for days and his honesty and openness would likely have allowed me that even closer sneak-peek into his life. It’s clear he’s comfortable sharing himself with his audience and maybe I can’t verify his twitter account for him, but I can certify his grateful recognition of the fans, dedication to his work and all-around laid back approach. Keep an eye out for the new album and in the meantime, follow his awesomely-animated personal website - asherrothmusic.com, updates on twitter, MySpace & Facebook.