Monday, April 6, 2009

Asher Roth

So there is a new white rapper named Asher Roth, and though I think he is amazingly talented and that yall should download his free mix tape (, that is not why I am writing this blog entry. He is raising all sorts of metaphysical and stereotype questions about the genre and some people are saying that he will revolutionize what we know as rap today. Roth talks prolifically about his suburban upbringing and college years, which place him in the whitest of the white categories. He is amazing though, and he has begun to gain spotlight with praise from rappers like Akon and Ludacris. He does have one song that he wrote in his early years, A millie, which is a parody of Lil Wayne's hit.

He talks about how he should be helping people with his millions, not blowing it on chains and other useless crap. Along with this track, he has several others full of political import, but the most controversial for me is this one, the lounge.

He asks questions like "what does a rapper look like?" but you really need to just listen to the song to get the gist of the song. So with this acceptance by classical rap artists of a very white man, what will happen next. Is it the ability to rap that makes a rapper a rapper, or is it the content as well? Does he need to be gangsta or can he just rhyme about college and the things that white suburban kids experience? He has the talent, could he be the gap for white and black cultures to converge? Many Afro-American scholars and activists have blamed rap and the way the rappers are treated as role models as one of the main problems with black family life. Could this change rap to be rhymes about anything, even reform or education?

Also interesting was this quote off of his wikki page: . "Hip-hop has always been very influential in the ‘burbs, [but] it’s just a matter of where we could relate to it. You find a lot of kids that are really confused. You look at them and they’re dressed out of character. They don’t look right. I figured out, I don’t have to dress this way, but you can still love hip-hop." Is this like a double consciousness for suburban white kids?

Also check out this video...its has interesting import as well.



  1. I think that similar things were said about Eminem. Because hip hop and rap have been labeled "black music", when a white artist is able to make a name for himself in the genra he is deemed, the changing face of hip hop. I think that first labeling anything "white" or "black" is just STUPID (for lack of a better word). I dont think that rappers particularly speak about things characteristic of black culture or black experience, they can only speak of their personal experience. It's interesting to really get to know the true background of alot of musicians and artists because most do not live the life that you would imagine. Many of today's hip hop artists were not poor, raised in the ghetto, or gangster. Their music has been able expand the scope of hip hop to include so many other aspects of life, making it relatable to a variety of people. Some many more perspectives are represented and respected that it's hard to standardize what a hip hop artist is supposed to look like. I personally REALLY like Asher Roth and I think that his acceptance by the hip hop community is not as much regarded as "that white boy who is an exception to hip hop", but rather a talented artist who is not trying to be something he isn't,who makes music from his own perspective and that is something the hip hop community and industry in general has grown to accept.

  2. While I am not the biggest fan of his music, I find Asher to be quite a neat personality. I did see that quote on his wiki and I agree with Annie: rappers do not speak of the culture but of their experience (or at least what they want to be their experience, or what they are told to market their experience as, etc.). Again, I'm not really a fan, but I do recognize and respect his talent. So, props Mr. Roth.

  3. There were a lot of questions asked in your post Walter. I think one of the main ones that stood out was the question of double consciousness, and do rappers have to rap about gangsta life to Be a rapper.
    The first one I can’t possibly know about true double consciousness, but I think it is actually a form of white privilege to accept/like/whatever rap music as a suburban white kid. I don’t think I am getting the presence of another culture when I listen to rap music and therefore not a double consciousness. I can enjoy it not because it speaks to me and my life situations but because it sounds cool like any other music I like. I don’t have to worry about being questioned. On the other hand, if I came across a black man in the hood listening to the Beach Boys, I may find that odd.
    For the other question, I definitely do Not think rappers have to only rap about gangsta life. Sure you have a whole horde of rappers that only speak of how much money they have, as well as another horde that only speaks of drugs, crime, and women. Rapping, though, is a stylistic form of delivery, and, though it has been mainly influenced by a specific culture, it is not held to only that.

  4. I've been sitting in front of the computer for a few minutes now considering what I'll write. Personally, I think this guy is utterly ridiculous and he's not that talented. I will defend him because I think that he has shamelessly fulfilled a niche for white suburban kids who will inevitably listen to his music and as a result he'll make some serious money. But I think one of the main elements of rap, at least good rap, is a story or a struggle; some sort of conflict out of which some genius poetry may emerge. It is here that Asher Roth is lacking- his rap focuses too much on defending the fact that he has ability even though he is white and that he can redefine what it means to be a rapper. But how about some solid lyrics or story or solid beats? After all this is a mixtape- they aren't his beats. Look at Nas's New York State of Mind for example. I listen and say wow, how does he flow so well while telling how it was to grow up in New York City. My problem with Asher isn't that he is white, but that he is talentless. I'm willing to accept a solid white rapper any time they feel they want to emerge and have something worthwhile to say. But as far as bragging about being brought up in the suburbs goes, well, I think any Rhodes student could rap about that.

  5. I agree with T.J.

    Did you hear about the rose that grew
    from a crack in the concrete?
    Proving nature's law is wrong it
    learned to walk with out having feet.
    Funny it seems, but by keeping it's dreams,
    it learned to breathe fresh air.
    Long live the rose that grew from concrete
    when no one else ever cared.
    -Tupac Amaru Shakur

  6. Annie expressed many of my opinions on this subject. While in the hip hop/rap world the norm is black males, there are those artists that break through and are considered exceptions. White males and black female artists are usually these exceptions--the Eminems, Missy Elliots, Lil Kims, etc. All rap music does not have to be characteristic by the black experience, like Annie said, it is usually characteristic of the artists' experiences or what they think their fans assume their experiences are/were. For Asher Roth to be "that white rapper," I think it is great that he actually raps about things he experienced-- like college.


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