On April 23rd, Asher Roth released Flowers On The Weekend, his first album since 2014’s RetroHash. The 12-track project, produced by Rob Devious, includes features from Lil Yachty, Joyce Wrice, CJ Smith, Gaby Duran, Buddy and Iojii. Prior to it’s release, Roth liberated two singles – “Flowers On The Weekend” and “Hunnid.”
When Asher dropped word he had a new project on the horizon, I was excited to hear where he was at. It’s an interesting thing when you’ve been listening to an artist for so long, especially over the course of some pretty prominent years in your own life. You can begin to feel a bond to that artist despite never actually “knowing” them beyond the music they release. When they dip in and out of the spotlight, you’re left wondering how they’re doing – Are they OK? Are they happy? What’s going on in their life?
And, of course, you selfishly want to hear new music.
Well, the new music is here. Fortunately, from the sounds of it, Asher is doing pretty well.
Read our Hxppy Thxxghts on Flowers On The Weekend below.
Flowers On The Weekend kicks off with the ultra smooth “Things Change,” a record that plays the role of opening track wonderfully. It sets the stage for what’s to come as Asher takes listeners on a journey while simultaneously diving deep into his own personal and professional existence. Through sharp and deliberate delivery of poignant prose, Roth shines a bit of light on where he was and where he is – “sorry dawg, gotta grow” is something like a mantra that permeates the entirety of Flowers. It becomes clear early on that Asher Roth is not the same person that fans first fell in love with over 10 years ago.
As the chorus points out, the only certainty in life is things change – one way or another, change is inevitable. And you can either be the architect of your life, taking it by the reigns and doing as much as possible to lead that change, or you can wade in the stagnant waters as change eradicates what you hold to so tightly. “Things Change” reflects the choices Roth made to slow his life down, to step away from the brooding spotlight of the music industry and to experience a deeper connection with his true self. All we have is the here and now – what came before and what comes after our physical existence is as irrelevant as it is important – and only you can decide what you do with this moment in time that is your life.
“Flowers On The Weekend”
Backed by vibe-laden production that comes complete with majestic trumpets, “Flowers On The Weekend” shines a light on the (more) adult life he’s living these days. If you’ve stayed up on the releases since Roth first hit the scene over ten years ago, this “growing up” has been evident. Although too many people are still caught up on the “I Love College” enigma, Asher has gifted the world a wonderfully mindful and “woke” catalogue of tunes over the years. He’s demonstrated a keen awareness of both self and societal issues, all the while keeping his music cloaked in an essence of good energy and uplifting content. Having said that, the presentation of “Flowers On The Weekend” – especially coming forth in 2020 – should come as no surprise.
To read our original coverage of “Flowers On The Weekend,” click here.
“Way More Fun” (feat. Lil Yachty)
This joint lives up to its namesake. Spoiler alert: I am really enjoying sitting with, digesting, dancing around the apartment and driving around to Flowers. And it’s tracks like the Lil Boat-featured “Way More Fun” that take the – from my perspective – already fun listening experience and make it an incredibly motivating, inspiring and healing collection of music. When I first listened through the album, the chorus on “Way More Fun” hit me right in the feels and, while I wasn’t consciously seeking it, it was that dose of medicine my heart and head needed. Each time through, this record gives me a natural high and that little kick in the rear to keep going.
When it comes to your dreams, your passions and your visions, the odds may be against you. But so what? We all have a choice – and admittedly, some people have the privileges that make said choice “easier” – to either play it safe or go the fuck after your dreams. On your journey, more people will tell you that your dreams are improbable, impossible and not worth the risk. Don’t allow the limitations they place on their life to ripple into yours. The only person who can stop you is the person who stares back at you in the mirror. You may never land a record deal or play in the league, but that little flicker of light inside you that ignites when you think about your passion needs to be fanned and tended to.
As Yachty demonstrates, if you do go for it, you can live the life you dream about. It’s all dreams and fairy tales until you make it your reality.
“Hibiscus” (feat. Gaby Duran & CJ Smith)
Throughout Flowers, the idea and practice of slowing down is a reoccurring theme. Like Asher expresses on the opening track, sometimes the best thing you can do is stop and breath. For real – whether you’re all up in Wim Hof or just looking for a way to relax and ground yourself, breathing exercises will do you wonders. Throw it in your Google machine and find some simple techniques that work for you.
“Hibiscus” is like a meditative and hypnotic expression on the art of simply being. Easier said than done? Maybe. But we tend to be so busy all the time that we forget how nice it is to do nothing. As Gaby says, turn your phone off. Relax. We literally have the opportunity to do exactly this right now and mad heads are still too eager to get back into the hamster wheel.
It’s interesting how certain concepts coming to the surface on Flowers sort of force one to consider privilege. I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, but some people do have more opportunity to do nothing. On the flip of that, however, we also see certain people who could afford to do nothing for a very long time too preoccupied with gaining greater levels of wealth, fame and status to actually hit pause. A lot of Flowers feels really simple and organic yet there is so much thought-provoking commentary that seems to exist between the lines. There are dimensions to this project that allow for listeners to enjoy it in various ways, each offering different takeaways.
Oh, also…daps and pounds to CJ Smith for that smooth chorus.
“Still Got Some”
There are so many aspects to our daily lives that condition us to think, act, speak and live from a place other than love. We stress ourselves out about money, careers, politics, celebrity gossip and a world of other subject matter. We become trapped in the maze that we not only built but continue to build into a more complex structure. Through it all, we grip so frantically to our beliefs, lacking a willingness to even listen to what others think. And we’re left angry, bitter and depressed, feeling as if the world is against us and anyone who disagrees with our point of view is the enemy. By losing sight of the connection that exists between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies, we close ourselves off to the invisible ties that bind us to the people around us.
“Still Got Some” is a soothing reminder to open your mind, listen, disagree and still find love and acceptance for your brothers and sisters. And, most importantly, for yourself – that’s where the ability to love others has to begin. Put down the weight of the baggage you’re carrying, lighten your load. Don’t stay in the darkness the world tries to cast upon you – acknowledge it, learn from it and begin, no matter how slowly, your ascent out of the cave and back into the true essence of light and love.
“Hunnid” (feat. Joyce Wrice)
“Hunnid” is a timely and thought-provoking examination of capitalism, presented in wondrous prose that comes courtesy of Asher Paul. Over the course of the record, Roth paints vivid pictures of the plagues and toxic cycles that emerge as a result of a money-driven society. Listeners get a raw and honest look at the various – and unfortunately “necessary” – ways a need for money fuels vices, controls lives and limits our abilities to live freely. Whether you’re selling bud, running a business or cooking up raps, there’s an underlying need to earn a living. As Roth points out so elegantly, we’re not even earning a “living” – we’re just doing it all in order to survive.
To read our original coverage of “Hunnid,” click here.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, nobody has it all figured out. Even the people who seem like they do are likely living in a world of uncertainty and unknowing. So have patience, don’t overthink or analyze too deeply where you’re at or where you’re going. And don’t compare your travels or placement in this moment to the people around you. Instead, find gratitude for each step that has brought you to where you’re at, find gratitude for where you’re at and be grateful for what it has all taught you.
The “In Between” of the past and the future – where you were and where you’re going – is the now. And “the now” is the only moment in time that is real.
“Spaceship” (feat. Buddy)
Man, Buddy’s verse on “Spaceship” is best represented with multiple flame emojis. The slick rhyme scheme, the wild energy and character present in his delivery – it’s going to get you amped up. Keep on moving and doing life your way. Nothing is holding you back.
In a vein similar to “In Between,” “Spaceship” dances with the uncertainty of what the future holds. We may not know where we’re going, but we definitely know where we’ve been. And we aren’t staying in the past – we’re moving on, growing, progressing and blasting onward.
“Dark Chocolate” is like a surprise you didn’t know you wanted. Over the years, I’ve grown pretty accustomed to a certain style, delivery and sound from Asher. With “Dark Chocolate,” he dives deeper than ever before into the waters of experimental. And it’s dope! It feels like a random jam session that resulted in a vivid and exotic record that just had to find life on Flowers. With intriguing vocals and grittier instrumentation, the song has the potential to feel out of place…but it doesn’t. It’s simple and complex all at once, and that energy fills Flowers from front to back in different ways.
“Cher in Chernobyl” (feat. Iojii)
“Cher in Chernobyl” feels like a purge – just straight getting thoughts out of the head and heart. Asher admits he may be a bit colder than he used to be, but listening through the album one understands this isn’t entirely true. With age, hopefully, comes an increased sense of awareness and a more prominent ability to observe not only what’s going on but what’s going on beneath the surface – you start to see the forest for the trees. There are a lot of ideas and concepts featured on Flowers that might fall under the “woke” category but it’s important to note they don’t seem to stem from a rose-colored glasses, spiritual bypass woke. Rather, there is less naiveté – it’s been a long process of living and healing that helped bring Asher to a place in his life where Flowers is possible.
Iojii helps demonstrate the necessity of balancing the highs and lows of life. It isn’t “all good” all the time and you need to accept the lows for what they are and the highs for what they are – passing moments, like the weather. Getting too caught up in either separates the individual from the now. Take life in as it happens and find pleasure in the simple things. As we continue on in our lives, realizing what is and what is not important helps to take a few bumps out of the road.
“Back of the Class”
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter recipe for happiness, success and all that stuff we seem to strive for. Too many people will try to prescribe you the “correct” path but Roth uses “Back of the Class” to remind listeners to color their lives outside of the lines. Have fun, fuck up, make mistakes, fail, pick yourself up and keep going. Our greatest teachers are experiences and the best lessons come from living life. That may sound wildly cliche, but it’s the truth. Even if you need to sit in class to get to the next step of your dreams, the lessons that you carry with you will come when you’re in the field and putting into practice what you know, all the while realizing what you still need to figure out.
Too many kids – and adults – are out there right now getting down on themselves because the expected path isn’t working for them. “Normal” doesn’t inspire them or light a fire in them. And it’s honestly heartbreaking. More people need to take a lesson from “Back of the Class” and gain an understanding that there’s more than one way to be good in life. Like “Way More Fun,” Asher’s message on “Back of the Class” hit me in a special way. It’s not a call to kids to mess around and disrespect their teachers – it’s a fun embrace of a record that let’s everyone know the classroom isn’t the place you’re going to get the lessons you carry on in life.
“Mommydog” (feat. CJ Smith)
The tracking on Flowers could not have been laid out more perfectly. After opening the project with “Things Change,” Asher brings it all home with “Mommydog.” Originally released in November of 2018, the song is quite literally Roth’s little ode to his home. It’s an expression of gratitude to his people, an offering of thanks for growing up in a good family and a recognition that the important things in life aren’t things – they’re people.
Roth had to leave his home to live, experience life and discover himself beyond the walls and borders of his upbringings. After traveling and living a life many dream of, he came to understand how much he took his home for granted. There are certain relationships that you just can’t duplicate – family and friends that are like family.
Flowers On The Weekend is growth. It’s perspective. And it’s a soundscape saturated with healing.
I wanted to avoid this subject because, in my opinion, it’s played out but it’s also part of Asher’s story. So here goes…
Asher Roth released “I Love College” 12 years ago. I was 18 at the time. And guess what? I absolutely loved that record – it was my introduction to Asher and it led me to his other music. Now, 12 years later, I laugh at the memories of partying to that song. I don’t drink anymore, I love staying at home and writing, and my life has changed so incredibly much since 2008.
I am not the same person I was when that song came out. And, I really hope, none of you are either.
It’s like we hold artists to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. Maybe that’s the cost of fame. But it certainly doesn’t have to be that way.
I can’t wrap my head around people’s infatuation with keeping Roth strapped to a song he released over a decade ago. It’s silly. And it’s unfortunate they dismiss his growth because of it. Guys, if you push aside Flowers because you’re caught up on a record that dropped in 2008, then do you. But it warms my soul to have the opportunity to experience further the personal and artistic growth of another human being. And Flowers radiates with the trials and tribulations of that journey. More importantly, it represents healing – for the artist and the audience. This project isn’t fake deep – in fact, there’s nothing fake about it. The heartfelt emotion and authenticity saturating Flowers is beautiful and as much as it serves a unique purpose in the life of Asher Roth, it has all the potential in the world to touch the hearts, minds and journeys of countless other people who take the time to press play.
When we, as fans and listeners, have the privilege of listening to an individual share bits and pieces of themselves for over ten years, it’s a blessing. They are allowing us to witness each step of their journey. You don’t have to like it – music is totally subjective. But I don’t think it’s right to throw shade and talk shit when your perspective finds foundation not in the present art being shared but in the music that dropped at the start of said artist’s career.
Now, having gotten that out, I want to conclude this piece by drawing attention to the magnificent fidelity that exists between Asher’s prose and Rob Devious’ production. Each track on this album feels like two friends came together and just vibed. In the process of jamming, they happened to cook up the music they needed to make. Flowers, more so than anything I’ve heard from Asher before, feels like he’s making music because he loves to make music. And that helps to lace the album with authenticity. It’s not about gaining followers, getting signed, impressing anyone – it’s just him, his friends and an unabashed desire to tap back into his passion.