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Asher Roth gives good advice

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Hannibal Matthews Photography

Any other freshly minted music star would be cruising in a glinting Rover or Benz by now, but Asher Roth is in a minivan, on his way to L.A. for a pick-up basketball game before flying into Vegas to perform at Wet Republic on Friday.

“I still drive a Corolla and I’m in a minivan right now,” Roth tells me over the phone, his personality as chill and friendly as a fratboy. Well, a laidback fratboy.

Roth, 23, grew up a middle-class suburban kid outside of Philadelphia, Penn. Now that he has cash and cred, I’m picturing him ditching the frat house basement and sorority mixers for nights out at hotspots with an entourage of women, splurging on bachelor pads and cars.

But Roth says his sudden fame following the release of the popular party anthem “I Love College” hasn’t changed his lifestyle.

“It’s all the same, I see no reason to change,” he says. “I can get into clubs easier and not have to wait in line, get some bottles comped. So it’s cool, I’m enjoying. … I like to be at home, kick back with some nice people, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the day, go out and get something to eat, nothing too crazy.”

Still, I can’t believe he hasn’t let his overeager female fan base get into his head … or into his pants.

“I don’t get too caught up with the distractions of a bunch of sloppy girls trying to confess their love to me,” says Roth. “They’re just being silly. I’m attractive, and sometimes girls want attention, they want to feel loved; I can’t explain groupieism … it’s not real. You can’t get caught up in that nonsense.”

On the phone instead of the radio, Roth sounds far more mature than his lyrics suggest. Roth’s homage to college partying and excesses features lines like, “That party last night was awfully crazy/ I wish we taped it/ I danced my ass off/ and had this one girl completely naked.”

“Everybody grows up,” Roth remarks. “I’m going to try to enjoy myself and enjoy the ride, but there’s a role and responsibility that comes with it. I have to keep it balanced and in moderation and I’ll be good.”

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Roth has a point. As much as many of us would rather not, after graduation we have to transition to the “real world” and leave those blissed-out lazy days and drunken nights in the past. A new generation of chugging, grinding youngsters will move into our dorm beds and classroom seats to replace us as we move onto boring, somebody-shoot-me adulthood.

But we’ll always have the memories, and so does Roth. “I Love College” was inspired by his days studying at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.

“It was a little bit exaggerated,” admits Roth of the song that he penned as a young student. “Was [the partying going on] seven days a week? No, but it was four to five. I was there when I was like, 18, 19. We had fun – I mean, get real.”

Roth adds that the song that made him famous is “the worst song on the CD,” referring to his recently released sophomore album Asleep in the Bread Aisle. (His first, The Greenhouse Effect, was released for free in 2008.)

Roth cites the disc’s seventh song, “Sour Patch Kids,” as a song with a strong political message.

When I admit I haven’t listened to his album yet, he tells me, “I guarantee song #6 ’She Don’t Want a Man’ will be your favorite song. ‘This is my favorite album,’ you’re gonna say. It will take you through the summer.”

It will certainly take Roth through the summer. He has multiple concerts planned for the next few months – including one at the House of Blues in Las Vegas on July 23. Come fall he’ll be touring with Blink-182.

While Roth’s rap career has taken off like a rocket, if it fizzles, the man whose current hit offers advice like “when it comes to condoms put two on” could wind up teaching your kids.

“Education is one of the few occupations I could get back into after a long music career,” says the one-time elementary education major.

Expect the veteran partier to inculcate a little non-conformism in the next generation. Roth states that the title of Asleep in the Bread Aisle ($7.99 on iTunes) refers to a story about one of his buddies literally falling asleep in the bread aisle at a grocery store. It means, he says, “Be who you are, don’t conform to society, do what feels natural.”

Roth, a pale young Jewish rapper from Pennsylvania beginning to make a name for himself in a genre dominated by black gangstas from the hood, has a valuable message to share—and it’s not just “don’t pass out with your shoes on … don’t have sex if she’s too gone.” It’s rap if you want to rap, roll up in a minivan if that’s how you roll and turn a deaf ear to the haters. I think I’ll take his message to heart … and go check out that sixth song.

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Jennifer Grafiada

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