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Asher Roth Calls Def Jam Deal 'A Win-Win for Everybody'
Asher Roth tells Billboard.com that signing to Def Jam Recordings, a deal that was officially announced on Tuesday (Nov. 22), marks a "win-win for everybody" as he preps the March release of his sophomore album, "Is This Too Orange?"
"The music industry has changed drastically, even from the last time my album [2009's "Asleep in the Bread Aisle"] was out," says Roth. "Def Jam, I feel like, has the mindset to continue to compete, and it's just one of those labels that will stick it out and will grind it out. And from my experiences sitting in that room [with them], they're very much like, 'Hey Asher, what do you wanna do? Let's make that happen."
The Philadelphia-based rapper, previously signed to LOUD/SRC Recordings, says that the deal came together when manager Scooter Braun -- who also oversees Justin Bieber's career -- began reflecting on Roth's previous success with the brain trust of Def Jam, including President/COO Steve Bartels. Roth's breakout single, "I Love College," has moved 1.7 million units since its January 2009 release, but "Bread Aisle" only sold 205,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"Def Jam asked Scooter what happened with the first album -- from their perspective, they were like, 'Huge single and great album, what happened?', because the sales weren't really reflective of the product. And when Scooter gave them the breakdown, they were like, 'Hey, bring it over here, we really believe in Asher and we really like what he does," says Roth. However, the rapper clarifies that he was never dropped from SRC Records, and that he and SRC CEO Steve Rifkind are still working closely together. "He's like my second father… he just wants to make sure I'm in a position to win," says Roth.
Since the release of "Bread Aisle," Roth has issued "The Rawth" EP with producer-rapper Nottz, and is prepping "Pabst & Jazz Sessions," a mixtape to hit iTunes on Dec. 20. Roth's proceeds from "Pabst," which includes the Blended Babies-produced banger "Common Knowledge," will go toward The Philadelphia Hunger Coalition.
Meanwhile, Roth will return with "Is This Too Orange?" next spring; the full-length will feature collaborations with Nottz, Organized Noize and longtime producer Oren Yoel, and tread the line between Roth's more experimental tendencies and music for the masses. "I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel or reinvent myself," says Roth. "I'm very comfortable in the foundation that we built. With 'Is This Too Orange?'… I mean, people have to understand that I'm in the music business. I'm signed to Def Jam Recordings. We have a certain responsibility there to do certain commercial music. But the cool thing about Def Jam is that they respect my artistry, that thorn in my side to do some really cool shit."