At just 30 years old, Watksy has released five hip-hop albums, written a best-selling book of essays and was one of three poets who performed live on FOX at the NAACP Image Awards in honor of Russell Simmons' lifetime achievement award in 2009. Not bad for a skinny white kid from San Francisco.
Although Watsky initially made his name as a slam poet, appearing on Season 6 of “Russell Simmons’ presents Def Poetry” and receiving the Sundance Summit Award for poetry on Climate Change, it was a viral YouTube video that thrust him into the national spotlight. Originally titled “Pale kid raps fast” the video amassed over four million views and landed him an appearance on “Ellen” in 2011. A year later, Watsky released a free mixtape, Nothing Like the First Time, and embarked on his first official tour but it was his 2013 follow-up album that put him on the map as a hip-hop artist.
Released under the newly-minted production company Steel Wool Media, Cardboard Castles topped the iTunes hip-hop charts in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The album’s three singles “Strong As An Oak,” “Moral Of The Story” and “Hey, Asshole” garnered him over 10 million YouTube views and helped cement his spot on the 2013 Vans Warped Tour. Despite a lapse in judgement that led the rapper to leap 35 feet from a lighting rig into a crowd of fans at a London tour stop—injuring himself and two fans in the process—Watsky managed to rebound with the release of his 2014 album All You Can Do.
The highly personal album served as an introspective look into the rapper’s personal life while simultaneously paying tribute to his parents and the music they listened to when they were growing up. In “Tears to Diamonds,” Watsky who was diagnosed with epilepsy, examines the paradox of prescription drugs that make them both toxic and life-saving. The album’s title track “All You Can Do,” unabashedly addresses his infamous London leap: “I try to jump and spread my wings like I'm a bird of prey But I hit the earth and break a mothafucka’s vertebrate (hey) I guess I'm fucking up the blueprint for success.” However, it was “Whoa Whoa Whoa” that garnered the most commercial success, reaching two million YouTube views in less than six weeks.
Watsky’s most recent album x Infinity, released on July 8, 2016, has reached number 58 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and sparked a world tour with a stop at Anchorage’s Bear Tooth Theatre on December 1.
"My Anchorage show is happening because I met Don Megga from 92.9FM at a festival last year and he worked hard to help me find an opportunity to bring my tour to town. After the festival gig I stayed in Alaska to camp for a week and fell in love with the state, so adding an Anchorage date was something I really wanted to do. I'm sticking around in town after the show at Bear Tooth for a while. I can't wait to come back,” Watsky said.
*Originally published in the Anchorage Press