[url id="http://www.mtv.com/music/artist/asher_roth/artist.jhtml"]Asher Roth[/url] had his pick of the litter while he was putting together his debut album, Asleep in the Bread Aisle. The upstart rapper roped in collaborations with heavyweights like Gnarls Barkley's Cee-Lo and Busta Rhymes, as well as newcomers Keri Hilson and Chester French's D.A. Wallach, among others.
But the one thing the 23-year-old Pennsylvania native strived for the most on his project was musical diversity.
"It goes to show where we are in our music phase, where genres are really starting to blend and it's becoming confusing," Roth told MTV News recently before performing back in his hometown. "So to me, it was very important to kind of showcase that — showcase the fact that over the last 23 years of my life, I have not been just listening to hip-hop."
On "Just Like Em," which addresses Roth's endless comparisons to Eminem, Wallach rides shotgun. Rookie producer Oren Yoel mans the board on several cuts from Bread Aisle, including "Em" and underground single "Lark on My Go Kart."
Yoel's production on "Just Like Em" is long on woozy bass lines and brass, creating a relaxed boom-bap vibe. Roth — born in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, before relocating to Atlanta to record his mixtape The Greenhouse Effect with Atlanta-by-Philly transplant Don Cannon — said he was a fan of the Philadelphia sound, particularly the Soulquarians.
"The Roots, bringing in Cody Chestnut and stuff, they even have instrumentation," Roth said of the Philly group. "That's something that's important to me as well."
The rapper's album is due Monday, and even with his search for diverse musical sounds, Roth has his hip-hop promotional plug in place too, just in case.
"Asleep in the Bread Aisle, and this is almost cliché to say, it essentially is a motion picture," Roth said. "Every song is very visual. Every song you can close your eyes and be like, 'OK, he's in the club with Patrón and pineapple going up to totally dance with this girl and gets denied.' You can see that, and you can hear it.
"To me, that's perfect," he continued. "I didn't want all these huge names [on my project]. I didn't want any co-signs and the matter of 'This kid's the next thing.' And everything happened very naturally, and I wouldn't have it any other way."