NEW YORK (AP) — Asher Roth is in bed. On a Tuesday. At 1 p.m. Watching ESPN on a flat-screen TV in a hotel room.

The slight, strawberry-blond rapper had celebrated the release of his album "Asleep in the Bread Aisle" with friends until 6:30 a.m. this particular morning — more than 24 hours after the disc's debut on April 20, or 4/20, as it is known to weed-smokers who declare the date their unofficial holiday.

"Take the day off ... roll something up ... buy the album," Roth suggested in a viral video that made rounds before the CD release date.

His bedhead and stubble, along with the sandwich bag of what appears to be marijuana on the nightstand, make it easy to cast Roth as a "complacent, an unintelligent, just stoner kid," as he describes the way his image is often skewed.

Sure, Roth's album is a mix of tracks about hot girls and marijuana, as in the case of popular single "I Love College." Much of the self-described emcee's music is filled with the everyday musings of a carefree, college-educated white guy who likes hip-hop — making him both loved and loathed by those who comment on blog posts and YouTube videos featuring him.

But there's more to the 23-year-old who has been hailed by some in the rap community as the next big thing. Roth, who majored in elementary education at West Chester University in Pa., is also socially conscious, which might not be as apparent.

"Asher Roth as an artist, to call him confident would be an understatement. He is exceptional — highly exceptional," says M.C., an editor at The Source magazine. "True to his heart, he is a hip-hop lover first. Not a money-lover first. Which automatically gives him the advantage over 80 percent of the emcees in the business today. He's more worried about the actual music than about the marketing."

Roth addresses poverty and greed on the song "Sour Patch Kids." And at his fans' behest, Roth uploaded to his MySpace page "A Millie Remix," a freestyle rhyme over Lil Wayne's "A Milli" beat, criticizing rappers who boast about having millions of dollars but "don't share, don't donate to charity."

"When I dropped that ... (I thought) 'You guys are always going off about how much money you have. Do you realize what's going on in this world right now?' All these black rappers — African rappers — talking about how much money they have. 'Do you realize what's going on in Africa right now?'" Roth says.

"It's just like, 'You guys are disgusting. Talking about billions and billions of dollars you have. And spending it frivolously, when you know, the Motherland is suffering beyond belief right now.'"

These are the kinds of things Roth says he wants to talk about. But, as a white rapper in the predominantly black world of hip-hop stars, such language can be misconstrued. (He already got into some trouble this month when he posted a tweet from his Twitter account saying he was "hanging out with nappy headed hoes." A prompt apology was issued from the account, explaining to Roth's 30,000-plus followers on the site that he was "making fun of don imus," referring to the shock jock who lost his job after making the derogatory comments).

Roth concedes that some white people are nervous about what topics are off-limits to them because of their race. But he said it's important to simply be socially aware.

"I'm not like ... 'Maybe I shouldn't say that,'" says Roth, who notes that he grew up in a diverse environment. "It's not like I'm this white kid who suddenly gets casted into the hip-hop community."

Roth's rise began about two years ago, when an Atlanta promoter heard Roth on MySpace, and, impressed by his lyrics, signed the then-college sophomore. Roth moved to Atlanta where he recorded a mixtape and the buzz began to build. Last year, he shared the coveted spot with three peers on one edition of a series of covers featuring "The 10 Freshmen" predicted to impact the hip-hop scene in 2009.

Besides being hailed as rap's next sensation, Roth has also found himself compared to Eminem, and even addresses the issue on the song "As I Em." While there's the obvious similarity — both are white — there are others. They are not monotone, and sometimes have similar inflection — that is it, says Roth. The two not only rhyme about vastly different subjects, Roth is suburban kid while Eminem's upbringing was decidedly rougher.

"It's very easy to draw the conclusion, 'Well, if Eminem had grown up in a good home and gone to college ... and (was) surrounded by accepting people all his life, he might be Asher Roth," says M.C.. "But then again, if Asher Roth had grown up on the wrong side of Eight Mile in a harsh neighborhood like Detroit, he might turn out like Eminem. And you know, they're two white guys who are exceptional with lyrics, and very witty."

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