It's a little misleading to state that rapper Asher Roth is back, when he never really left the hip-hop scene, but he has been flying under the radar of many fans for the past five years.
In 2009, Roth made noise with “Asleep in the Bread Aisle” (Island Def Jam), which included the hit, “I Love College,” and then things got quiet. He was signed to a label, but because he wasn't a big moneymaker, Roth was left floating without support and direction. At the same time, his management added Justin Beiber to its roster, which attracted other similar artists and Roth didn't fit.
“I didn't really want to compromise my music and I didn't really want to compromise who I am, so it just resulted in a lot of sitting,” Roth said. “It wasn't that I didn't put out music. I put out a lot of music, it just happened to be free, so I wasn't necessarily in the public eye, but continuing to hone the craft, continuing to be creative and all of that led me to where I am now.”
That time spent working on mixtapes and other recordings has paid off for Roth in the form of his full-length self-release, “RetroHash,” which will be available Tuesday. He will be celebrating his success with a CD release party at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, also on Tuesday.
“RetroHash” is produced by The Blended Babies and features guest artists ZZ Ward and Vic Mensa. Roth collaborated with The Blended Babies, Rich Gains and JP Keller, on the album's material and credits the trio's friendship for making the writing process comfortable and enjoyable. This relationship yielded an effort that is very different from his previous work, Roth said.
“We didn't even know we were creating, we were just making records and hanging around, recording in the living room, recording in the bedroom and in a very stress-free environment,” Roth said. “I feel like ‘RetroHash' is a very genuine introduction of who I am and moving forward as well. It's very focused on the present, very much into the future, but also acknowledging the past.”
Roth grew up in the Philadelphia area and played drums from age 10-13. His father wouldn't let him practice without drum pads to stifle the volume, which made Roth lose interest. He began going to his friends' houses where, with headphones, he could collaborate on beats and raps and released a CD with a friend in tenth grade.
“Music's always been a part of my life. If you had asked me at 13 years old if making music was going to be my profession, I would probably say absolutely not. I try to retain being a fan first and appreciating everybody else that puts stuff out,” Roth said.
He likes a wide range of music, from Earth, Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder to Bruce Springsteen and the Clash.
“I gravitated to hip-hop because of the fun element of it, the communal element of it. The fact that people go to the streets and have block parties and break dancing and deejaying. All of that appeals to me from a community standpoint,” Roth said.
Although Roth may dabble with new material, his main focus is currently on the live show he is presenting during his tour in support of “RetroHash.” He enjoys performing and said that his stage show is what separates him from other rappers and emcees.
“A lot of people with technology these days think all you have to do is jump behind a microphone and sound good, but it's a matter of can that transfer to live? Can you move people? Can you speak to people? I feel like I do have a talent for communicating and connecting with people,” Roth said.
In addition to making music that pleases him, Roth also listens to what his fans tell him.
“I feel like the fans are a reflection of me,” Roth said. “Music is the most powerful form that we have. It's the one thing that allows people from all walks of life to get under one roof and rock the whole night and that's always intrigued me about music. I try to respect that process.”
ASHER ROTH WITH CHUCK INGLISH
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Where: Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood.
Tickets: $12 advance, $15 at the door, all ages.
Information: 310-276-1158, www.troubadour.com