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Asher Roth’s “College” Hip-Hop: The Real Deal Or Sophomoric Shiznit?

The New Now

College has an important place in popular music... and it's not just because loads of freshman have been illegally downloading files on the PCs in the university library. Back in the '80s, it spawned a genre of music known as college rock, which eventually morphed into what is known today as indie rock.

 

Again, way back in the '80s, what was then known as college rock ran head on into hip-hop, thanks to a trio white boys called the Beastie Boys. These one-time punks started rapping and sampling AC/DC and in the process they introduced college radio DJs to hip-hop and acts such as LL Cool J, Run DMC, and Public Enemy.

More than two decades later, another white boy is celebrating the joys of college in a laid-back little hip-hop jam called "I Love College." His name is Asher Roth. He grew up in the suburbs of Morrisville, near Philadelphia where he preferred the smooth sounds of popular jam bands to hip-hop. "The first CD I ever bought was Dave Matthews Band's Crash," Roth once told VIBE. "That is how suburban I am."

That might explain why Roth doesn't rap about AK-47s, drug deals and gang life. Instead, he raps about what he knows. In this case, it's college and by college I don't mean the institution of higher learning that 20-somethings attend to study in the hopes of laying the groundwork for a fulfilling career. Roth raps strictly about the extra-curricular activities that often accompany college life--dancing, smoking, drinking and playing beer pong--while sampling "Say It Ain't So" by one-time college-rock favorites Weezer. Check out the clip below and you'll see what I mean.

Although Roth's song is much more laid back, his video and the high jinks that ensue wherein remind me of the video that introduced most of the world to the Beastie Boys, "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)." Take a trip back by watching that clip below.

Early in their career, the Beastie Boys used their association with Russell Simmons and Run DMC to give them credibility in the rap world. The same could be said of Eminem--the other white rapper to whom Roth has been compared--who was introduced to the world by Dr. Dre.

Roth, too, has some hip-hop friends in high places. A true 21st Century success story, Roth hooked up with his manager, Scooter Braun--a promoter and the one-time VP of marketing of Jermaine Dupri's So So Def label--via Myspace. When the buzz spread about Roth, the young rapper took meetings with several labels, including Def Jam. Legend has it that at a meeting with Jay-Z, Roth was asked to freestyle on the spot. Hova passed, but Roth ended up on SRC Records after signing with another hip-hop heavyweight, Steve Rifkind, known for his association with the Wu-Tang Clan, Big Pun, and Mobb Deep. Roth recounts the story in "Roth Boys," his take on Jay-Z's "Roc Boys." Check 'em both out below.

 

Like any rapper worth his Salt-N-Pepa, Roth has released a couple of mixtapes. His latest, Don Cannon and DJ DRAMA present The GreenHouse Effect Vol. 1, features guest spots by a number of hip-hop luminaries and John Mayer. Roth has also been profiled on Last Call With Carson Daly in a segment that includes our pal, Hip Hop Media Training blogger Billy Johnson, Jr., check it out.

 

And speaking of Billy, he managed to catch up with the man himself in a guerrilla-style interview at Yahoo! Music HQ. Watch it below.

After sampling some Roth, I'm wondering if he's the real heir to Slim Shady or just some sophomoric shiznit? What do you think?

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