Q+A: Asher Roth
The MC talks college hoops, his upcoming tour and how the two tie into each other.
by Adam Fleischer | @AdamXXL
Over the weekend, Asher Roth kicked off his #Final4Tour, a 16-date excursion where the rapper coincides his concerts with marquee college basketball games. So far, the tour is “undefeated,” as Asher put it on Twitter, with UNC topping Clemson in Chapel Hill on Saturday and Iowa upsetting Indiana in Iowa City the next night. Things pick back up tomorrow night in Syracuse, as the Orange take on USF (you can buy tickets for that ’Cuse show and the rest of the tour here), before the moppy haired rhymer eventually takes his act to the Big East Tournament, the Elite 8, and ultimately rounds things out at the Final Four in New Orleans.
The Pennsylvania-bred Roth has made his hoops enthusiasm known in the past, but he took a new, creative approach with this one (he even superimposed his head on a classic shot of Larry Bird in his Indiana State uniform—quite possibly our favorite part of this whole thing). Here, the Def Jam rapper, whose album Is This Too Orange? is due out in the next few months, explains where the idea for the tour and flyer came from, his college basketball allegiances, and his favorite part of tourney time.
What made you want to do a tour that tied into college basketball and, specifically, March Madness?
From a sports fan’s perspective, I don’t think anything is more engaging than March Madness. It’s a great time of year. The weather’s starting to warm up a little bit, people are happy, and then you have crazy things happening like the San Diego States and the Baylors and these Cinderella stories that you get to follow. There’s gambling involved. Everything you could possibly want, it’s right there in March Madness. You’ve got underdogs, buzzer beaters, and betting.
I’ve been doing the brackets on Yahoo.com for two or three years, and this year we wanted to spruce it up a little bit and be more engaging. So we decided, Hey, let’s go to some of the top basketball programs leading up to March Madness, and Selection Sunday, and the Sweet 16, and the Elite Eight and the Final Four. Just to go and do these little pep rallies. It’s really about me being a fan of March Madness.
It’s tough to root for college basketball all season long, because there’s so many teams. Obviously you root for your team. But when you get down to that—what is it, 68, this year—you get down to the tournament, it’s so exciting. It’s a little bit easier to see who’s in, and who you’re following.
And you’re actually finishing at the Final Four?
We’ll be in New Orleans at the Final Four. That’ll be a good time. We’ll be there, we’ll check it out, and hopefully some Asher Roth favorites are in there. I’m not a big Duke fan, so hopefully they’re not in there.
Do you have any teams that you’re pulling for at this stage?
I’ve been a Maryland Terrapin fan for a while. From that Juan Dixon 2002—my sister was there in school. My older sister was there when they won the championship. I don’t know if they’re going to make the dance this year.
I really enjoy watching North Carolina play basketball. From a historical standpoint, obviously, and those colors look good. I like seeing the Wisconsin Badgers be good. I’m not mad at Kentucky. I’m not mad at Syracuse. But for me, when those Final Four teams sneak in—the Baylors of a few years ago, San Diego State—when those teams sneak in, it’s kind of hard to root against them. Those are the ones I root for, unless Maryland is there. I like pulling for teams that don’t normally get the opportunity to be there.
Do you have any team or teams that you’re feeling right now, or are you gonna wait to see match ups?
It’s definitely match ups. You see it every year. You see teams like Princeton knock off squads. Teams like Cornell knocks off squads because of match ups. There are different systems. Some teams are long, tall, some teams are athletic and fast, other are small and shooting teams. These teams, they’ll play in a certain conference all year long, and you see them match up with teams in a conference like the ACC, who is highlighted all year, and you’ll start to see upsets.
How’d you come up with the flyer for this? Your face on Larry Bird’s body is pretty great.
Searching the internet and always being a fan of Larry Bird, coming across that Sports Illustrated was like finding a gold mine for me. We had taken note of that Sports Illustrated for a while now, so it was just the perfect time to bust it out. I hit up my boy, I was like, Dude, we need to put my face on Larry Bird to make this flyer. He came back and had that, and we started cracking up. We’re really just trying to have some fun. From top to bottom, in my career—whether it be touring, recorded music, or just living life—just laugh and enjoy the shit. That flyer kind of puts it all in perspective. I saw people tweeting, being like, “Man, that’s just so Asher.” That’s cool that people are getting a kick out of it. We’re just trying to have some fun, go visit some schools, party with them, and have a good time at the games.