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George Virden Watsky (born September 15, 1986) is an American rapper and poet from San Francisco, California. Watsky performs slam poetry, and was featured on Season 6 of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO. Watsky's 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 was born in San Francisco, California, to Clare (née Miller) and Paul Watsky. George has a twin brother, Simon, 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 then attended Emerson College in Boston.
In 2006, Watsky appeared in Season Six, Episode Two of Def Poetry Jam, performing his poem "V for Virgin."
Watsky was described as the Bay Area's reigning teen champion as the winner of nearly a dozen slams, and was on the team that took fourth place in the national contest in 2005.
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.
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."
Watsky continues to implement spoken word into his current career as a musician with songs like "Tiny Glowing Screens Pt. 2" and "Cannon Ball."
2009 - 2010: Watsky and Guilty Pleasures:
In 2009, Watsky produced a 15 track hip hop album titled Watsky. In 2010 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.
2012: Nothing Like The First Time and tour:
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 Creme Fraiche, with support from Dumbfoundead. It included dates in Chicago, New York City, Boston, Northampton, Jacksonville, Atlanta, and London.
In August 2012, 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 the fall of 2012, Watsky went into the studio to record his second full-length studio album entitled Cardboard Castles, which was released on March 12, 2013. He then went on his follow-up to the Nothing Like The First Time tour called "Sloppy Seconds."
2013: Steel Wool Media, Cardboard Castles and tour:
In 2012 Watsky started a production company with Brad Simpson called Steel Wool Media. Watsky released his first single from Cardboard Castles (Strong As An Oak) through 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 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.
Watsky was profiled in The Boston Globe in 2009. The Arts section reviewed his one-man show "Where the Magic Happens" favorably, and called him a "poetry-slam star."
Watsky has featured in Epic Rap Battles of History, playing the roles of William Shakespeare, the Fourth Doctor from Doctor Who, and Edgar Allan Poe.
Watsky graduated from Emerson College in 2010 and has achieved newfound fame with his viral YouTube video "Pale kid raps fast"; the video has since been renamed "Watsky raps fast" and been made unlisted, although a copy of the video is still available on YouTube on a different channel. He was featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on January 24, 2011, performing a slightly modified version of that rap.
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.
Watsky's music can be heard in the background of Philip DeFranco's news series, as well as DeFranco's SourceFed channel.
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. He wrote: 'I have no excuse for my actions, and the only way I can explain my mindset is that it was a huge overreach in the heat of the moment. No, I was not drunk or on drugs.'
2014: All You Can Do:
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 preorder on his website.
The All You Can Do Tour spanned across North America, Europe, and Australia, consisting of over 60 headlining shows. His live band "Creme Fraiche" consists of Max Miller-Loran (keys/trumpet), Kush Mody (keys, bass) Pat Dimitri (guitar), Chukwudi Hodge (drums) and others.
In December 2014, Watsky's YouTube Channel was listed on New Media Rockstars Top 100 Channels, ranked at #51.
2015 - present: Meaner Than The Average Tour:
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 month long club tour, called the Meaner Than The Average tour, with Creme Fraiche, 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.