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Page last updated at 06:34 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 07:34 UK
Asher Roth: 'I'm no Eminem'

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

Pennsylvania's most talked about rapper chats about those constant Eminem comparisons, working with Busta Rhymes and being in hip hop for the long haul.

Asher Roth
Asher Roth plays his debut UK show in London on 7 May

Exposure-wise, 23-year-old rap prodigy Asher Roth's arrival hasn't been perfectly timed.

Just as the single I Love College was neatly positioning him as the new Eminem, Slim Shady himself went and returned from a four year break to eclipse - not just Roth - but everyone.

To this point, comparisons to Marshall Mathers have plagued him since he began making music in late 2007. He is, after all, white and a rapper.

"Absolutely," Roth says when asked if he thinks the likenesses drawn are lazy.

Eminem comparisons

"It just comes to a point where that's the reference point - there aren't that many white rappers that have broken through to the mainstream and that is how people make sense of the project.

"I understand the comparison but as soon as my album comes out and I stick around for a little bit people will start to understand who I am, and just allow me to be me."

Eminem
Asher Roth has been compared to Eminem

Despite Slim Shady's overbearing return Roth's hasn't been lacking influential admirers - Jay-Z, Kanye West and Andre 3000 have all praised one of hip hop's fastest rising stars.

"It's humbling and it's really what it's all about," says Roth. "If you don't have respect from the pioneers and the people who were doing it before you then what do you really have?

"It's cool if you can take your iTunes money and run, whatever. But for me this is about longevity and respect so if I don't have that I don't have anything."

Busta collaboration

Indeed, one of those peers Busta Rhymes, appears on his debut album Asleep In The Bread Aisle.

"Busta got involved when we linked up at the Grammys", he explains. "He was like, 'I like the fact you're just being you - it's really important.'"

While the LP includes lots of "experimentation" and "genre bending", familiar tracks I Love College, Lark On My Go-Kart and Be By Myself featuring Cee-lo are included on the home-recorded album.

"Its just making sense of the world around me," Roth elaborates. "This is definitely the introduction of an artist, not just a ringtone."

The title's inspired by a friend's drunken story about passing out in a grocery store but also means something deeper.

"To me it just comes down to being unaware and unfazed about the magnitude of what's really going on."

Indeed, Asleep In The Bread Aisle is part of a more general resurgence in hip hop according to the rapper.

It's cool if you can take your iTunes money and run, whatever. But for me this is about longevity and respect so if I don't have that I don't have anything
Asher Roth

"Its definitely improving, it was definitely in critical condition for a little bit. But it's absolutely on the up and up in the sense that a lot of new artists are coming in - for a long time there was no new artists."

He references Kid Cudi, The Cool Kids and New Kingdom as his favourite new artists.

Live appearance

Going forward Roth will now take Asleep In The Bread Aisle on the road, playing London's Tabernacle on 7 May.

"It's going to be the first time I'm playing outside the country," he admits.

"So it's always exciting to know you're moving forward - when I'm up there [on stage] it's really not about me.

"If you're not trying to have a good time and you're not trying to enjoy yourself and not forget about the problems in the world then don't show up."

Asleep in the Bread Aisle is released on Monday 20th April.



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