Celebrity: Straight Outta Morrisville

Rapper Asher Roth has been called the suburban Eminem — and worse. Dave and Beth Roth, his parents, just know he’s a good boy

Mom and Dad thought the hobby was fine (writing poetry!) but that some of the rap he was listening to was crude stuff.

“I told him there’s a whole tradition of spoken-word lyrics that goes back to the folksingers,” Dave says. “Listen to the beat poets. These guys with bongos, chanting poems in New York City’s clubs — their topics weren’t women’s breasts. Was there plenty of free love? Yeah, but it was political and edgy. … Listen to Gil Scott-Heron, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan. I played him Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. It’s filled with stories.”

I remember way back, I mean way
back ages

Eighth grade I think, feels like yesterday

… Started having hip-hop. Pops didn’t
buy it

Wanted more Springsteen, Earth, Wind and Fire

Felt that was fine but to rhyme had
to try it …

Steady wastin’ the day spittin’ silly verses

No curses, writin’ ’bout our girlfriends

Ballpoint pen, mine spinning like a

Gettin’ on the mic, I’m a wizard like Merlin

Breakin’ barriers, tearin’ walls like
it’s Berlin

— “Fallin’,” from Asleep in the Bread Aisle

At West Chester University, Asher got distracted. He started rapping over beats on his computer, putting songs on My-Space. Won a freshman talent show (and a $150 gift certificate to the Exton Mall). By sophomore year, he was doing more music than schoolwork and was ready to drop out.

Dave Roth is a sentimental guy. For Christmas sometimes he gives family members gifts that he makes, like a bottle of “Unconditional Love.”

“For Asher,” Dave says, “when I finally came to grips that he really wanted to do this, this was his dream, I gave him a certificate that dubbed me the Dream Guardian, that he could always look to me to support him. Whatever he needed, I would be there to help him protect his dream.”

He leans back from his desk

Rubs the back of his neck, the stress
takes effect

Grips the bridge of his nose

Squints while he’s showing emotion he
normally won’t

His father died at 56

So he’s well aware how vital a father
figure is

How big of a responsibility it is

To be a good husband and care for your kids

Never miss an event, helping them with homework

Discipline to prevent things when
they’re older

His only son is only 21

And focus as a poet has only just begun

Papa isn’t dumb, he understands what
this means

His dream is my dream, my dream is
his dream

“His Dream,” from Asleep in the
Bread Aisle

An Atlanta promoter named Scooter Braun listened to Asher’s MySpace page, and it happened. Soon Roth was killing auditions for producers, even for Jay-Z himself. These days, Dave and Beth Roth don’t see him a lot. Sometimes they check out his tour schedule on MySpace, or his website, the Daily Kush (yes, another marijuana reference).