Asher Roth thinks he has the perfect name for his long-awaited second studio album, which is scheduled for early March. "Is This Too Orange is really appropriately titled," he tells Rolling Stone. "You’ve got red, which is all up in your face. And then you’ve got yellow, which is a little bit more mellow. And you combine those two and that’s really what Is This Too Orange is about. It kind of titled itself when I was half asleep."
He says the album is full of "high-energy" music, though he clarifies: "I wouldn’t say high-energy with respect to, like, electronic music or anything like that. Oren Yoel does a lot of the grunt work on this record. He did a lot of the stuff on Asleep In The Bread Aisle as well," he says. "But we brought in Organized Noize as well. Obviously anybody familiar with Outkast’s stuff knows that their music is pretty orange."
The new album will also show a more mature version of the "I Love College" rapper. "I'm 26 now," he says. "I came in here at, like, 21, had no idea what I was doing, got cast into the limelight with the 'I Love College' record. And yeah, it was a lot of fun, it was a blast. But what I’ve been through the past two, three years, dealing with the business and all that, that’s taught me so much more."
He'll now be taking that experience to one of hip hop's biggest names, having just announced a deal yesterday with Def Jam. The move came about in part because of Justin Bieber. "Obviously we’ve been working closely with Scooter [Braun, Bieber and Roth's manager] for a while and he’s been over in that Def Jam building working with Justin," Roth says. "And every time he goes in there they say, 'Hey, what’s up with Asher?' It just got to a point where it was hard to ignore. So he came over to me and asked me, 'How do you feel about Def Jam?'"
The answer for Roth was obvious: "Def Jam is Def Jam. That’s undeniable." For Roth, however, the deal is based on much more than just a brand name or history. "I sat down with them and they get what I’m trying to do, they’re willing to give me some freedom," he says.
Before we hear Is This Too Orange, he'll release an EP, Pabst and Jazz, this December. Comparing this one to the color purple, he says it's very different from Is This Too Orange. "It definitely doesn’t sound like anything we’ve done before," he says. "The title stems from having those conversations we have over a beer, over a cigarette, over a joint or whatever people do when they kind of sit down and just be like, 'Yo, man, it’s kind of wild out here.' And jazz isn’t necessarily jazz music, but that free-flowing, impromptu stuff that jazz has brought into our world."
Getting to show these different musical sides is exactly where Roth wants to be now. "For me, the fun part is rewarding my fans in respect to progression and doing new things," he says. "It’s always nice to grow up with an artist."
• Video: Asher Roth's 'Summertime'