By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated December 20, 2019 at 10:07 AM EST

To say that Asher Roth doesn’t fit the typical profile for an up-and-coming rapper is an understatement. A proud Pennsylvania suburbanite, Roth decided to give music a shot only after studying elementary education at a teacher’s college for two years. “I’ve got beef with the educational system,” he told me when we met up at SXSW last month. “The reason why I got into the rap thing is because mainly, I was like,’Okay, I can teach 25 kids in a classroom and do lesson plans all thetime, or I could write my own lesson plans to teach a million kids.'” Though Roth is far from the first rapper to come from a suburban background or attend a university, not many artists will flaunt those facts so willingly. He even named his breakout single “I Love College”!

Of course, “I Love College” is more of a meatheaded party anthem than an enlightening lesson plan — perhaps not so far outside rap’s mainstream after all. But Roth told me that he didn’t want that self-described “novelty song” to define him going forward. And now that his full-length debut, Asleep in the Bread Aisle, has arrived in stores this week, the world can get a better idea of what Roth’s musical vision sounds like. Love him or hate him, the guy’s certainly got a unique take on where rap is headed. So let’s hear it: Are you planning on picking up Asleep in the Bread Aisle? What do you make of the whole Roth phenomenon?

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