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Rapper's 'Asleep' Aims To Wake People Up

Rapper Asher Roth grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs.
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Rapper Asher Roth grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Rapper Asher Roth grew up in Morrisville, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. In an interview with NPR's Guy Raz, Roth describes his hometown as a place of "green grass lawns, strollers, trees, little league baseball and the Morrisville pool." The circumstances of his early life are not typical of other rappers, and neither is his whiteness. So it's no surprise that his latest release, Asleep In The Bread Aisle, has generated many different reactions.

His music appears to be straightforward. His album's hit single, "I Love College," is about partying and drinking. But Roth has a broader vision for his music. "I personally want people to think," he says. "And not just through my music but generally through life."

Roth says he wants his music to challenge the conventions that he believes constrict the hip-hop community. "The hip-hop community needs to be more about enlightening and awakening rather than the struggle," he says. "There's millions of kids just like me who didn't grow up in a struggle and didn't suffer hardships but are very much inspired and influenced by hip-hop."

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Guy Raz is the host, co-creator, and editorial director of three NPR programs, including two of its most popular ones: TED Radio Hour and How I Built This.Both shows are heard by more than 14 million people each month around the world. He is also the creator and co-host of NPR's first-ever podcast for kids, Wow In The World.