Asher Roth is everything that is wrong with the world, take two.

Latoya says it much better (and more thoroughly) than I did. She also provides a whole lot of links detailing the problems with Asher Roth, so head over there and read. It’s not a matter of Roth just “expressing himself” and overly-sensitive PC people being all kinds of mad cuz he’s white. It’s his arrogance and his smirking sense that he can do this rap shit better than black folks; it’s his insistence that his work is valuable because white suburban kids are the ones buying rap albums, and they’re entitled to hear from a white MC whose experiences mirror their own. Latoya rounds up a lot of good commentary, and this is one quote that stands out:

It’s never explicitly said—because if it was, he wouldn’t even be afforded the minor fame he has right now—but Roth’s rapping is not an alternative to mainstream hip-hop or capitalistic corpo-rap, but an alternative to blackness. It’s not entirely clear if Roth even realizes this (probably because he’s not thinking as hard as he thinks he is), but his contempt for most rappers mixed with statements about how he’s the kind of guy buying the music—again, and therefore not black people—sound contemptuous.

Plus, the guy’s just a jerk:

Roth addresses poverty and greed on the song “Sour Patch Kids.” And at his fans’ behest, Roth uploaded to his MySpace page “A Millie Remix,” a freestyle rhyme over Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” beat, criticizing rappers who boast about having millions of dollars but “don’t share, don’t donate to charity.”

“When I dropped that … (I thought) ‘You guys are always going off about how much money you have. Do you realize what’s going on in this world right now?’ All these black rappers — African rappers — talking about how much money they have. ‘Do you realize what’s going on in Africa right now?’” Roth says.

“It’s just like, ‘You guys are disgusting. Talking about billions and billions of dollars you have. And spending it frivolously, when you know, the Motherland is suffering beyond belief right now.’”

This is the same guy who Tweeted that he was hanging out with “nappy-headed hoes” and then tried to cover his ass by saying he was just mocking Don Imus. It’s the same guy who had this to say about hip-hop:

The first CD I ever bought was Dave Matthews Band’s ‘Crash’…That is how suburban I am…I finally got into hip hop in ’98 when I heard the Annie sample with Jay-Z….When I wrote my ‘A Milli’ freestyle, that was me listening to 10 years of hip hop and not relating to it at all. Like, Damn I don’t sell coke. Damn, I don’t have cars or 25-inch rims. I don’t have guns. I finally got to a point where I had the confidence to do this thing myself, and I was making music for me. And it turns out, a lot of people feel the same way I do.

He isn’t embracing hip-hop. He’s mocking it.

Just go read Latoya.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Music, Race & Ethnicity, Racism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Asher Roth is everything that is wrong with the world, take two.

  1. Vanessa says:

    I’m pretty sure “the motherland” isn’t suffering because rap stars don’t donate enough money to charities there. Please, someone hit him with a fucking cluestick.

    I’m pretty sure G. Love did this schtick a million times better a decade ago anyway.

  2. norbizness says:

    Pop goes the weasel ‘cuz the weasel goes pop.

  3. Vanessa says:

    Hehe, Asher Roth gets the Gas Face!

  4. The Opoponax says:

    “When I dropped that … (I thought) ‘You guys are always going off about how much money you have. Do you realize what’s going on in this world right now?’ All these black rappers — African rappers — talking about how much money they have. ‘Do you realize what’s going on in Africa right now?’” Roth says.

    K’naan could kick this guy’s ass into next Thursday.

    Off to read Latoya…

  5. Agi says:

    Just another one-hit wonder getting his 15 minutes of shamefulness. He makes all white hip-hop artists look bad. There’s good stuff out there, like Atmosphere or The Streets.

  6. femmina says:

    Oh wow…what a douche. Off to read Latoya.

  7. Jon says:

    “It’s his arrogance and his smirking sense that he can do this rap shit better than black folks” – with this I completely agree with you.

    “it’s his insistence that his work is valuable because white suburban kids are the ones buying rap albums, and they’re entitled to hear from a white MC whose experiences mirror their own.” – why is it wrong on principle for a white person with privilege to rap? Is rap the one form of music in which some people are not allowed to participate? I don’t think its so horrible to like a certain type of music and wish that some of the artists within it actually spoke to you.

  8. prairielily says:

    So… why CAN’T rap or hip hop speak to everyone?

    It often speaks to me, because I try my best to be socially conscious, and I’m concerned with poverty. It’s my problem too. When the song is about growing up in the ghetto, I can comprehend it despite not having actually lived in an urban American impoverished community.

    And why doesn’t rapping about wealth appeal to shallow, white, suburban teenagers? Isn’t consumerism a core value there?

    Partying? Wide appeal. Most people feel the need to relax sometimes, often with alcohol.

    All Asher Roth is bringing to the table is an inferior product with a condescending white smirk attached to it in an effort to change the packaging. And a love of pointing fingers when it is my understanding that many rap/hip hop artists have contributed to their communities.

  9. The Opoponax says:

    why is it wrong on principle for a white person with privilege to rap?

    This isn’t what the sentence you quote said, at all.

    For one thing, it’s not wrong on principle for a white person with privilege to rap. See for instance the Beastie Boys or The Streets*. I wouldn’t consider Lady Sovereign to be a “person of privilege” for reasons of socioeconomic class, but she fits that category to an extent as well. M.I.A. is also an example in a certain way – she’s not white, but she approaches the hip hop medium from a very privileged standpoint (before she got started in music she was an art school graduate, and it was being friends with folks like Peaches that inspired her to start experimenting with music).

    All these musicians are about a million times better than Roth, because while they carry certain kinds of privilege, they don’t center their work around that privilege. And maybe it’s just because they’re better artists in the grand scheme, but they’re able to create music that works on a near universal level. A great counterpoint to “I Love College” might be Lady Sovereign’s “Those Were The Days” which nostalgizes growing up on a council estate, and while there are a lot of aspects of that which obviously don’t speak to middle class American me, other parts evoke exactly the sensation that “I Love College” is meant to, because she’s talking about things all kids deal with. Who didn’t futz around in elevators, race shopping carts, run away from mean dogs, think their parents’ music was square, etc?

    On the contrary, “I Love College” is basically just, “nyah nyah my parents are rich and yours aren’t!”

    *I’m leaving Eminem out of this for a moment because I’m honestly not that familiar with him.

  10. tamoe gozen says:

    i’m truly surprised he’s getting this much coverage here, as awful as he is. he’s a flash in the pan, and will go away.

    btw, and i can say this because i’m an asian lady: the lack of criticism about hip hop by feminists in general smacks of the racism of lowered expectations.

  11. Holly says:

    Nobody ever argues in these discussions that “rap is off-limits as a medium for white people or privileged people to participate in.” People only argue against it, pretending that that’s what other people are saying. So you know, time to haul out the straw man stamp whenever that comes up:

    Also yes, prairielily is right — I was under the impression that in fact, a lot of people (including privileged folks, youth trying to understand the world, etc) felt the appeal of rap and hip-hop in part because there are a lot of things expressed in those musical styles, as they originated, as they evolved, that speak to a broad range of people. Of course people are going to have different relationships to the music and that’s worth talking about, maybe even critiquing. But what I think that means is that yeah, how important is it really for white privileged kids to have RAP music that speaks to THEIR particular experiences, anyway? The experiences of white privileged kids is like, the bread and butter of our entire culture. It’s the 364 out of 365 days of the year. Yeah, wow a real gap was being filled there when somebody rapped about, phew, glad that got covered.

  12. William says:

    why is it wrong on principle for a white person with privilege to rap?

    It isn’t. If that had been the argument of anyone here, your response would have been pretty compelling. Thing is, no one here is saying white people can’t play traditionally black music.

    The problem I, and it seems others, have with Roth isn’t that he’s a white guy rapping. That seal was broken by the Beastie Boys going on 30 years ago and again by Eminem a decade ago. Even before that white people played the blues, Rock and Roll, and Jazz. I can think of a dozen great white artists at each iteration. The problem with Roth is that he isn’t someone adding his own twist to an art he loves, or even a profiteer coming along to whiten up a style in order to make it more marketable. Roth is using his whiteness to make fun of black people through an art form they forged.

  13. The Opoponax says:

    the lack of criticism about hip hop by feminists in general smacks of the racism of lowered expectations.

    Uhhh, say WHAT?

    The very first thing you tend to hear out of just about any white person’s mouth about hip hop is that it “objectifies/demeans women”. Even though, y’know, your average track by the Rolling Stones is about the same in that regard. If we can’t listen to hip hop because it’s misogynist, we also can’t listen to rock, or really probably any music with lyrics wherein any male person had any involvement at any level whatsoever.

    And as Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.” If I wanted to be part of a movement that forbade entire forms of artistic expression, I would convert to radical Islam.

  14. Lydiane says:

    Its sad that Roth seems to think all Hip-hop is about drugs and guns. There are plenty of Hip-hop artists who rap about all sorts of topics. For a guy with clearly limited knowledge of this artform the fact that he thinks he is making a valuable contribution is laughable.

  15. tomoe gozen says:

    Opoponox- what a flawless chain of logic you seem to take in coming to your comeback- I dare to criticize hip-hop, ergo I must be a rockist (go study up on the term if you don’t know what it means) who blithely and uncritically listens to other genres of music.(The essentialism in “if it was made by men, art must be inherently misogynist” is so dumb that I won’t waste time unpacking it.) I couldn’t forbid other people from listening to one type of music even if I wanted to, but I reserve the right to criticize whatever I want- And the approaches of far too many women to rap/hip-hop is to mumble any concerns about it because the slightest criticism might smack of privilege.

    The Emma Goldman quote is unnecessarily glib really.

  16. Lauren says:

    I wasn’t sold on the “mocking black people” angle on Asher Roth — I just thought he was ignorant and overly earnest — until I saw his take on the infamous D’Angelo “How Does It Feel” video. This is a dude that deeply doesn’t get it. If I want this kind of social commentary, I can walk three blocks down to campus and interview drunk white college dudes.

    Which I’ve done. Remarkably similar.

  17. Dried Figs says:

    Imagine what you could do with the time you waste criticizing individuals that you have never met or have known. The level of stupidity and lack of wisdom shown in the blog is just embarrassing. Garbage. Trash.

  18. Roxie says:

    I love how he interchanges black with African…as if African-American black people are the EXACT SAME as people from Africa,that we’re not really American, and almost as if Africa is a country. As if he owes nothing of his cushy existence to Africa and black people caused the diaspora.

  19. asada says:

    yikes…they don’t even make billions……

  20. The Opoponax says:

    I dare to criticize hip-hop, ergo I must be a rockist (go study up on the term if you don’t know what it means) who blithely and uncritically listens to other genres of music.

    That wasn’t my assumption about you, at all.

    That is my general reaction when I hear anyone trot out the tired old stock response about hip hop: “but it’s so misogynist!” As I said, just about every form of music with lyrics has pretty much the same level of misogyny as hip hop does. If my choices as a feminist are instrumental music or Olivia Records, we’re heading into fundamentalist territory, and I’m not interested.

    The essentialism in “if it was made by men, art must be inherently misogynist” is so dumb that I won’t waste time unpacking it.

    I don’t think you read it properly, then. Music as it stands now is part of the patriarchal system, and as such, it’s likely to reflect the values of that system. You can’t really separate out a certain genre and say, “THIS kind of music is misogynist, the rest is A-OK”.

    While I think it’s important for us to support artists who share our feminist goals, I think you head down a very slippery slope when you start calling out this or that genre as unacceptable. Especially when the genre you start with happens to be the genre dominated by people of color.

    I couldn’t forbid other people from listening to one type of music even if I wanted to, but I reserve the right to criticize whatever I want-

    Except that your original comment wasn’t you weighing in that you personally choose to listen only to classical because you find music with words to be demeaning towards women. It was you shaming us for not centering the conversation around the fact hip hop is innately misogynist. With a side order of implying that we’re not good feminists because we can talk about hip hop in ways that imply that we actually know listen to it.

    And the approaches of far too many women to rap/hip-hop is to mumble any concerns about it because the slightest criticism might smack of privilege.

    Uhhh, say what? Again, I’ll repeat that 99% of the time I hear any white person (including a huge number of women) say anything about hip hop, it’s “ugh, that’s so sexist!” It’s one of the few artistic forms where people who may or may not have feminist cred openly deconstruct it with regard to gender. So I find it a little weird when you insist that nobody has ever been brave enough to admit that they find hip hop sexist.

  21. Thom says:

    –Nobody ever argues in these discussions that “rap is off-limits as a medium for white people or privileged people to participate in.” People only argue against it, pretending that that’s what other people are saying. —

    Well, one of the people quoted in Latoya’s excellent post pretty much does:
    [F]rom a certain angle, there’s just a shade of difference between white people rapping and white people telling nigger jokes. (written by Harry Allen)

    That’s quite a blanket statement (though I will have to read his other writing alluded to in the quote, to see how the statement is nuanced). But other than that one person? I would have to agree. Especially considering people condemning Roth have brought up a number of white rappers who they see as legit rappers and worthy of being heard(hell, even if this had not happened, noone at either Feministe or Racialicious seem to be saying this as far as I can see).

  22. Jack M says:

    I don’t really like Asher Roth at all but I see what he’s saying regarding not relating to Hip Hop/Rap music. The problem was the rap/hip hop he was listening to, which is mainstream rap. Not all rappers talk about guns, ho’s and money, but the mainstream does because it gets little white kids like Asher to buy it and think they’re tough.

    At least he now can admit that, yeah he couldn’t relate to it at all, and neither can 95% of people (white or black) who buy the CD’s.

    I will say, people getting up in arms about his tweet about the nappy headed hos. Grow up people, you know he was mocking imus and to suggest that he was being racially insensitive is intellectually dishonest.

  23. leia says:

    really?grow up about the nappy headed ho’s comment? it would have been smart if he took another root, perhaps saying something about imus and not making the same damn joke!

    are you a black women or a women at all for that matter? if not you will never have the slightest clue of how that comment strikes a nerve you grow the hell up and listen.

  24. leia says:

    Also Roth is a D-Bag.

  25. G.D. says:

    Well said, Opoponax.

  26. Really? says:

    he knew that because he is skinny and white everyone would find it funny. he is not making fun of d’angelo. He’s a huge fan of him. I have had white friends say something stupid to me and have had to call them out on it. It didn’t mean that they were racist but they just didn’t realize what they said could be offensive. My mother has said things in front of white people about white people and totally is not a racist. There is racism and there is racial stupidity. Most rappers are not from the suburbs so most of their audiences can not fully relate this is true. Why he racist for saying that? I am black and from the suburbs and I love Tupac. Dear Mama makes me cry everytime I hear it but my life and relationship with my mom is absolutely nothing like that but it isn’t offensive when I say that? I think we should be teaching Asher Roth rather than making assumptions about someone we haven’t really tried to get to know. I have his cd and read his interviews and he seems like a cool guy who does nothing but praise his favorite rap artists Mos Def and The Roots. If he was racist do you think The Roots of all people would invite him to perform with them? They are not stupid. It’s not really Asher Roth I’m defending here, it’s that we’re calling this guy a racist because of what he has learned FROM Hip-Hop. How many black artists have trashed other black artists about not doing anything to help others and about being too flashy? All of a sudden a white guy says it and he is racist? IDK maybe it’s because I’m 18 and most of (maybe not all) but most of the people my age that I know make fun of race all the time. I grew up watching comedians poke fun at race and being around my friends of many different races who can openly joke about and poke fun at race. Maybe it makes it harder for me to be super offended by some of this. Or maybe we’re reading way too much into Asher Roth. IDK I just don’t get a racist vibe from him and most of the young people I know don’t either. They just think he is not that awesome of a rapper. (Which he is not. Have you ever heard him freestyle? If not, don’t subject yourself to it. It is really a hard thing to watch.)

  27. DMoney says:

    Latoya’s post is great – I particularly like Levine’s comments: http://socialsciencelite.blogspot.com/2009/04/asher-roth-is-anti-white-guilt.html

  28. Roxie says:

    Really? Maybe Jay Smooth’s video might help clear some things up for you
    http://www.illdoctrine.com/2009/05/asher_roth_and_the_racial_cros.html

  29. Really? says:

    Roxie I have seen the vid and he makes great points but you can joke and still have love for people. I think everyone jokes about race to some extent. It doesn’t mean they don’t care about what is going on. It does go too far every once in a while but I really do joke with my friends not just about race but other things too and of course we don’t mean it. IDK perhaps we could tone it down? Maybe there really is a way to joke about race without being apathetic cause I totally do care about my friends and they know that.

  30. Patrick says:

    Now I’m a student at Full Sail, and I’m up for Recording Arts… with that being said I’m exposed to a vast assortment of different people from different places with different tastes in music. I can honestly say that some of the responses that were left are exactly what I expect to hear from any white male who doesn’t listen, or care for rap music. For god sakes everybody used to rock out to ‘Ice Ice Baby!’ Vanilla Ice, so how the heck are you going to try and make race an issue. But it really is just a the fact of the matter that he isn’t contributing to hip hop with his rap, he’s criticizing and bad-mouthing. If Roth, grew up in a hard area and had to endure the struggles that black folks have to go through then he’d probably understand. (And I don’t mean to pull that struggle card, but I’m a black male in college, and even in Orlando, I find myself going in the gas station to get gas and buy a drink, while I’m next up in line, the lady in front of me leaves, and ‘whispers’ to the cashier, “be careful their alot of them around here”..lls I’m like wtf I’m on E.Orlando and it’s more spanish folks out here than anything… but these just one of the many petty shit we gotta put up with…)
    THE RAP GAME GETTING TO A POINT A FOLKS GETTING EXPOSED, AND BUDDY BETTER KEEP THIS STUFF RIGHT HERE ON THE LOW, CAUSE I DON’T THINK HE REALLY WANT’S ANYBODY INTHE RAP GAME TO MESS WITH HIM…

    WHEN DID RAP BECOME JUST FOR BLACK PEOPLE??? BLACK PEOPLE ARE MUSIC.. WHITE FOLKS MAD THEY CAN’T STAY ON THE BEAT, EVEN TO THE MUSIC THEY LOVE…LLS JK BUT I’M SERIOUS THOUGH LLS…

    Y’ALL TAKE CARE NOW

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