|Birth name||George Virden Watsky|
|Born||September 15, 1986 (age 35)|
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Labels||Steel Wool Media|
George Virden Watsky (born September 15, 1986), better known mononymously as Watsky, is an American rapper, singer, musician, songwriter, record producer, poet, author, and illustrator.
Watsky broke out as a rapper with his viral video "Pale kid raps fast" in 2011, which featured his trademark chopping style. He has released six studio albums: Watsky (2009), Cardboard Castles (2013), All You Can Do (2014), x Infinity (2016), Complaint (2019), and Placement (2020). He performs live shows with a backing band called Créme Fraîche. He is also known for his appearances in episodes of Epic Rap Battles of History, and as an author following the publication of How to Ruin Everything in 2016.
On May 7, 2020, Watsky set the Guinness World Record for longest rapping marathon, rapping for 33 hours 33 minutes and 19 seconds. Also known for his slam poetry, he was featured on Season 6 of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry.
George Virden Watsky was born in San Francisco, California, on September 15, 1986, the son of librarian Clare E. (née Miller) and psychotherapist Paul Norman Watsky. His maternal grandfather was Democratic politician Clement Woodnutt Miller. He has a twin brother, Simon Jay Watsky, who is a helicopter pilot. He has described himself as "half Jewish" on his father's side. Watsky attended San Francisco University High School and Emerson College in Boston. He majored in Writing and Acting for the Screen and Stage, a program he designed through the Interdisciplinary Studies Program at Emerson. His talents began to receive national and international acclaim in 2006 when he was the Youth Speaks Grand Slam Poetry Champion, and was also named Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam Champion.
Watsky's poetry incorporates political and social themes. In 2006, in the midst of a lively performance to a sold-out crowd, Watsky likened politicians' behavior to a common bar pick-up line, and won the night's top score. He also appeared in Season Six, Episode Two of Def Poetry Jam that year, performing his poem "V for Virgin."
Reviewing a 2008 performance at Brandeis University, Sarah Bayer wrote, "Skinny, quirky George Watsky was next, with the night's most innovative piece. Watsky, a sophomore at Emerson College and a member of the grand prize-winning team from San Francisco at the National Youth Poetry Slam in 2006, adjusted the microphone to different parts of his body, imitated the sound of rewinding tape and recited binary code (a trope that caught the eye of headliner Saul Williams) in an altogether amusing performance." In 2009, he was also profiled in The Boston Globe; the Arts section reviewed his one-man show "Where the Magic Happens" favorably, and called him a "poetry-slam star."
2009–2011: Watsky, Guilty Pleasures, and "Pale Kid Raps Fast"
In 2009, Watsky produced a 15-track hip hop album titled Watsky. The album produced one successful single, known as Stupidass. The next year, he released the album Guilty Pleasures, which he made available as a free download on his website. Produced by Procrastination (San Francisco musician Tobias Butler), Guilty Pleasures contains mashups between popular songs and those from his first album.
On January 17, 2011, Watsky uploaded a video entitled "Pale kid raps fast" to YouTube, in which he performed a humorous original rap with rapid delivery over the instrumental of "Break Ya Neck" by Busta Rhymes. The video went viral, partly due to support from Reddit and Philip DeFranco (Watsky's music can be heard in the background of DeFranco's news series and SourceFed channel). It accumulated four million views within two days, and eventually exceeded 25 million views despite later being unlisted by Watsky and the title being changed to "Watsky raps fast." He performed a slightly modified version of the rap on The Ellen DeGeneres Show one week later. Being able to match the speed of the song's rapping was viewed as an Internet challenge, spawning covers by fellow rappers such as Mac Lethal, and YouTube celebrities such as Hank Green and Bry.
2012–2013: Nothing Like The First Time and Cardboard Castles
On June 10, 2012, Watsky released a free mixtape entitled Nothing Like The First Time. The mixtape coincided with his first official tour of the same name beginning in July, featuring his touring band Créme Fraîche, with support from Dumbfoundead. It included dates in Chicago, New York City, Boston, Northampton, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Toronto, and London.
Watsky released Live! At the Troubadour, a fully mixed concert CD of his Los Angeles show from the Nothing Like The First Time tour, in August 2012. He also started a production company with Brad Simpson called Steel Wool Media.
In January 2013, Watsky announced he would be releasing a new album entitled Cardboard Castles on March 12, 2013. On the same date, he announced tour dates for the Cardboard Castles tour, which included dates in many major cities in the U.S. and Canada such as Austin, New Orleans, Gainesville, Orlando, D.C., Philadelphia, Northampton, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver and New York City. Tour dates for Europe (including the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands) were released shortly after. The first single from the album, "Strong As An Oak" was released through Steel Wool Media on January 22, 2013. The second single from the album, "Moral of the Story" was released on February 5, 2013. The third single, "Hey, Asshole" was released on February 19, 2013, and features English singer Kate Nash.
The album was released on March 12, 2013, through Welk Music Group, topping the iTunes Hip Hop Charts in the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom due in part to a Twitter campaign. He then went on his follow-up to the Nothing Like The First Time tour called "Sloppy Seconds."
Watsky made a web-series with YouTube channel LOUD titled Watsky's Making an Album. It consisted of 9 main episodes and many behind the scenes and live videos from the Nothing Like The First Time tour. The web series was restarted on March 12, 2013, with the first episode of Season 2 (entitled Watsky's Releasing An Album), coinciding with the release of his second album, Cardboard Castles.
In November 2013 the Vans Warped Tour was briefly shut down after Watsky made a stage jump from the 35 ft high rigging during the band's performance in London. During the stage jump the audience parted. Watsky and also two members of the audience were injured. Watsky apologized after the event via Facebook.
2014–2015: All You Can Do and the Meaner Than The Average Tour
On January 2, 2014, Watsky tweeted that he was beginning work on his third studio album, then tweeted a link to a picture of a microphone with the caption "The Booth #guardianangel" less than a minute later. This was the first sign of new music from Watsky since March 2013, when he released his second album, Cardboard Castles.
On May 21, 2014, during one of his Watsky Wednesday vlogs, he announced that the title of his new album would be All You Can Do, as well as explaining that he wanted to keep his family ties in the album (announcing that his father would be on the cover and that he would like his mother to be on an alternate cover) and that the album would be released in August. He had tweeted earlier in the month that the first single from All You Can Do would be released on June 10, 2014.
The album was made available for preorder on June 10, 2014, on iTunes (with a download of the first single," Whoa Whoa Whoa"); a physical copy and limited edition double-vinyl were made available for pre-order on his website. It included collaborations with Anderson .Paak, Dia Frampton and Stephen Stills among others, and is Watsky's highest charting album to date, reaching number 33 on the Billboard 200. The All You Can Do Tour spanned across North America, Europe, and Australia, consisting of over 60 headlining shows. His live band Créme Fraîche consists of Max Miller-Loran (keys/trumpet), Kush Mody (keys, bass) Pat Dimitri (guitar), Chukwudi Hodge (drums) and others.
On May 30, 2015, Watsky announced through social media that he would be releasing All You Can Do: Live From The Regency Ballroom, the live album that he recorded during the All You Can Do tour, on June 2 on BitTorrent, Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes & Soundcloud. He also announced that he would be embarking on a monthlong club tour, called the Meaner Than The Average tour, with Créme Fraîche, A-1, and Mikos Da Gawd in late July and August. The focus of the tour would be to hit cities that he didn't get to on the All You Can Do tour. He also said that many of the shows would be in various Canadian cities that he's never performed in.
In January 2016, he announced through various YouTube videos that he would release an album due sometime in the summer.
2016–2017: x Infinity and The Hamilton Mixtape
On July 8, 2016, Watsky announced a new album titled x Infinity, as well as an upcoming tour (in America and Europe) on Twitter and Facebook. The album's lead producer is long-time collaborator Kush Mody, while Def Jam Recordings co-founder Russell Simmons was an executive producer. It was released on August 19, 2016, and included Josh Dun, Julia Nunes, and Chaos Chaos as collaborators. The album's bonus track "Exquisite Corpse", referencing the poetry game, features seven guest verses rapped by Dumbfoundead, Grieves, Adam Vida, Wax, Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs, and Chinaka Hodge. Watsky embarked on his x Infinity tour on September 2, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona, and was slated to finish in Los Angeles at the end of November, but he later added stops in Anchorage, Alaska on December 1, and his final show in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 10, 2016. The album reached 58th on the US Billboard 200.
In December 2016, Watsky contributed a song to The Hamilton Mixtape, a project of Lin-Manuel Miranda, for whom Watsky previously performed in 2015 at a #Ham4Ham event. On the mixtape, he performed "An Open Letter" with the artist Shockwave. This was an adapted form of a rap cut from the song "The Adams Administration" in the original show, in which Hamilton refutes insults and rumors spread about him from President John Adams.
2018–present: Complaint, Placement, and Invisible Inc. reunion
In March 2018, Watsky regrouped with his band Invisible Inc. for their ten-year anniversary. The group released a single entitled "Fine Print" and went on tour. It was announced that their next album, "Fine Print", would premiere on March 30, 2018.
In August 2018, Watsky released a single entitled 'Welcome to the Family'. He announced at a show in October that his next album, “Complaint,” would be released.
On January 11, 2019, Watsky released his fifth album, Complaint. Complaint would later exist to be part of a 3 part album series. On the same day he announced the Complaint tour which spanned from January to April 2019. The tour traveled most of North America as well as Europe and the United Kingdom with support from Grieves, Beau Young Prince, and Feed the Biirds. On January 15, Watsky released the single "Whitecaps" which was featured off the Complaint album. In February, Watsky also released a self illustrated book of the Complaint album lyrics which was sold on his merch site.
On April 27, 2019, Watsky co-hosted The Get Lit Grand Slam Finals at The Theater at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. The Get Lit program is for high school students studying poetry in organized after school programs where students compete to win scholarships for their team. Shortly after on May 11, 2019 Watsky performed poetry at the Arcosanti, Arizona based music and arts festival FORM. Watsky also released a free VR concert of his Welcome to the Family tour’s show in Boulder Colorado which was featured by NextVR. Later in the year, on November 13, 2019 Watsky released the single, "Advanced Placement", which would be his first single release off his 2020 album Placement. A week later he announced his "Advanced Placement Tour", which was scheduled to travel across North America. The tour included support acts from Travis Thomspon, Feed the Biirds, Nikki Jean, G Yamazawa, Hollis, Ed Balloon, Grieves, Suppose, A-1, Danny J, Garth, Wax, Chukwudi Hodge, Mikos Da Gawd and a co-headline date in Denver, CO with Hobo Johnson.
On January 31, 2020, Watsky released the single "Undermine" feat. Raquel Rodriguez, which would also appear on his upcoming album Placement. He appeared on dumbfounded's podcast Fun with Dumb on February 20, where he discussed the significance of the album and how it was the second of a three-album series. Which hinted towards the numbers at the bottom of the Complaint artwork which had 1.3 printed in the corner, and Placement having 2.3 in the corner of the artwork that was announced on February 15. His 6th album, Placement, was self-released on March 6, 2020. At this time the tour name changed from the "Advanced Placement Tour" to the "Placement Album Tour". Two days later on March 8, Watsky released his third single from the album, "Best Friend the Floor". The tour was scheduled to start in Santa Fe, New Mexico on March 24 but due to outbreak of COVID-19 the tour was announced as postponed on March 13. It has since been rebranded and rescheduled for Fall 2021 as the "Re-Placement Tour".
Watsky has documented the process it takes to create albums in a couple of TV series. He has also appeared in several Epic Rap Battles of History videos, rapping as and portraying one of the battling characters. To date, he has played William Shakespeare, the Fourth Doctor from Doctor Who, and Edgar Allan Poe.
In June 2016, Watsky published a collection of his essays in a book entitled How to Ruin Everything. It entered the top ten in The New York Times Best Seller list, and received public praise from Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Green, Russell Simmons, Hasan Minhaj, Jeff Chang, Adam Mansbach, Rhys Darby, Myq Kaplan, and Chinaka Hodge.
Rapping world record
On May 6, 2020, Watsky beat the world record for the longest continuous freestyle rap. He rapped for 33 hours, 33 minutes, and 19 seconds, beating the previous record by over seven hours. In attempting to do so, he raised over $140,000 for the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, a non-profit charity which raises money for music artists and crew members affected financially by COVID-19 event cancellations.
- Watsky (2009)
- Cardboard Castles (2013)
- All You Can Do (2014)
- x Infinity (2016)
- Complaint (2019)
- Placement (2020)
- Guilty Pleasures (2010)
- A New Kind of Sexy (2011)
- Watsky & Mody (2012)
- Nothing Like the First Time (2012)
With Invisible Inc.
- Invisible Inc. (2007)
- Fine Print (2018)
- Nothing Like the First Time Tour (2012)
- Cardboard Castles Tour (2013)
- All You Can Do Tour (2014)
- Meaner Than the Average Tour (2015)
- x Infinity Tour (2016)
- Welcome to the Family Tour (2018)
- Complaint Tour (2019)
- How to Ruin Everything (2016)
- "The Georgia Straight presents Watsky at the Rio". The Georgia Straight. July 9, 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Durham, Trevor (September 16, 2016). "My Night with Watsky". Uloop. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Levine, Tom (June 23, 2016). "Watsky book on New York Times Bestseller list". LinkedIn. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Jenkins, Craig (May 7, 2020). "This Rapper Just Broke the Record for the World's Longest Freestyle". Vulture. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
- Sher, Allyson (January 28, 2011). "WU-SLam gears up for 3rd annual Grand Slam". Student Life. St. Louis: Washington University Student Media, Inc. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
- Ian Atkinson (March 21, 2006) Watsky perfection at teen poetry slam. Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
- According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. Searchable at http://www.familytreelegends.com/records/39461
- on YouTube (November 12, 2011). Retrieved on August 25, 2078.
- Hustvedt, Marc (April 26, 2011). "George Watsky: YouTube's Poet Rapper Breaks Out". Tubefilter. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- He's not Michael Cera | SF Bay Guardian. Sfbg.com (December 31, 2008). Retrieved on August 25, 2012.
- Eifler, Emily (April 22, 2013). "Watsky, a Hopeful Rapper on a Shining Trajectory". KQED-FM. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
- Mogilevskaya, Regina (March 28, 2013). "Music Q&A: Hip-Hop Artist and Spoken-Word Poet George Watsky". Boston Magazine. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
- "George Watsky | Emerson College Student Showcase". Emerson College Student Showcase. April 2, 2010. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- "George Watsky: Rapper, Poet, Author and Emerson Alum". Emerson College Today. July 3, 2019. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
- "Watsky perfection at teen poetry slam". East Bay Times. March 21, 2006. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
- Rutherford, Kevin (February 12, 2011). "Social Climber". Billboard.
- Johnson, Chip (April 21, 2006). "Local poets lift voices at nationals". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
- Atkinson, Ian (March 31, 2006). "Watsky perfection at teen poetry slam". Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
- WATSKY!. "George Watsky- Def Poetry 6 FULL" – via YouTube.
- Bayer, Sarah (January 22, 2008). "Spoken word show a grand slam: VOCAL 2008, a benefit concert featuring nationally renowned slam poets, raised money for a local community center. The sold-out show electrified the audience, despite its over four-hour run time". The Justice. Archived from the original on August 7, 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
- Brown, Joel (December 4, 2009). "Plugging into poetry as a media platform". Boston Globe. Boston. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
- WATSKY! (March 5, 2013), Watsky- Tiny Glowing Screens Pt 2 [Cardboard Castles], retrieved October 17, 2016
- Disc Jockey (August 12, 2014), Watsky - Cannonball (feat. Stephen Stills), retrieved October 17, 2016
- "How Rapper Watsky's Major YouTube Video Went Too Viral". VideoInk. August 22, 2014. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Haughton, Vanessa (July 11, 2014). "Pale Kid Raps Fast: The Rise of Watsky". Observer. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- "George Watsky: The Ellen DeGeneres Show". The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Warner Brothers. January 24, 2011.
- Mermis, Elke (January 24, 2011). "[Updated] Mac Lethal raps faster than that pale George Watsky kid". The Pitch. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Bradshaw (January 29, 2011). "George Watsky: How Does That Pale Kid Rap So Fast?". Bradshaw's Blog. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- O'Reilly, Brian (November 25, 2012). "New video! IRISH COUPLE RAPS FAST". Tumblr. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- "Steel Wool Media". 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
- Cardboard Castle Tour Dates | George Watsky's Official Website. Sfbg.com (December 31, 2008). Retrieved on August 25, 2012.
- Twitter / gwatsky: #CardboardCastles is #1 in. Twitter.com. Retrieved on November 19, 2013.
- Twitter / gwatsky: #1 on hip hop #10 overall on. Twitter.com. Retrieved on November 19, 2013.
- Baggs, Michael (November 17, 2013). "Vans Warped Tour halted after Watsky + Wax stage accident". Gigwise. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
- Watsky, George (November 18, 2013). "This is news to some, but many of you may have heard about the incident today at Warped Tour London". Facebook. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
- "WATSKY x INFINITY on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
- "Instagram photo by @gwatsky • Jan 3, 2014 at 2:43am UTC". Instagram. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
- George Watsky (May 21, 2014), Final Watsky Wednesday (for now!), retrieved October 17, 2016
- "WATSKY x INFINITY on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
- "The NMR Top 100 YouTube Channels: 75-51!". New Media Rockstars. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- Taryn Southern (January 19, 2016), COCKROACH COCKTAIL CHALLENGE w/ WATSKY! | Party Fun Times Ep. 7, retrieved October 17, 2016
- Granovsky, Brooke (August 30, 2016). "x Infinity". The Justice. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- "WATSKY x INFINITY on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
- BWW News Desk. "New Watsky Album 'x Infinity' Gets August 2016 Release". Retrieved October 17, 2016.
- "Tour - George Watsky". George Watsky. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
- Tube, Stage (September 12, 2015). "STAGE TUBE: Watsky Raps for the Crowd at Ham4Ham". Broadway World. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- "W▵TSKY on Instagram: "We're selling a v limited run of 200 numbered & signed vinyls for @invisibleincsf 'Fine Print.' Pre-order now at InvisibleincSF.com (There…"". Instagram.
- "W▵TSKY on Instagram: "Wow! 😍 My band @invisibleincsf is playing a small handful of small headlining shows in April in the cities we've called home (SF, Boston,…"". Instagram.
- "W▵TSKY on Instagram: "i'm in a band we made an album coming 3/30 @invisibleincsf: fine print Art by @cesar_eldiablo"". Instagram.
- Fine Print by Invisible Inc., March 30, 2018, retrieved July 14, 2018
- Borders, Amira. "Review: Watsky's 'COMPLAINT' invites listeners in for a quick digestible piece". Daily Emerald.
- "Watsky announces 'Complaint' tour 2019". AXS.
- "Get Lit slam poetry showdown brings teen performers to downtown L.A." Los Angeles Times. April 24, 2019.
- "Review: Watsky's 'Placement' Crafts a Polarizing New Voice for Hip-Hop's Wunderkind". Atwood Magazine. May 28, 2020.
- Kurp, Josh (May 26, 2013). "Here's (Nearly) Every Single 'Arrested Development' Season 4 Guest Star". Uproxx. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- "George Watsky". iMDB. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
- "Blindspotting". iMDB. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
- "How to Ruin Everything ESSAYS By George Watsky". Penguin Random House. 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- "Longest rap marathon (individual)". Guinness World Records. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
- "Home". Sweet Relief. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
- Shreekumar, Advik (April 27, 2014). "George Watsky: Rapper and Slam Poet". Harvard Political Review. Harvard Institute of Politics. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
- della Cava, Marco (May 24, 2013). "Watsky to aspiring rappers: You can do this, too". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
- Mester, Amanda (September 16, 2014). "Slam poet and rapper Watsky to headline two shows in NYC, November 4 & 8". AXS. Anschutz Entertainment Group. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
- Kyles, Yohance (June 15, 2015). "EXCLUSIVE: Watsky Talks New Live Album, The Phoniness Of The Industry & White Rappers Using The N-Word". All Hip Hop. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
- Gomaz, Adrian (September 2, 2016). "Hip-hop artist Watsky touring in support of 'x Infinity' album". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
- "Im November auf Deutschlandtour" [In November on a tour of Germany]. Warner Music Germany (in German). Warner Music Group. July 8, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2018.