Album Review: Watsky, ‘All You Can Do’

Written by Erin Mathis

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I first fell in love with Watsky’s million-word-a-minute, clever and quick-witted style when I stumbled across a video of his poem “S for Lisp” four years ago. Even I, though, made it to the Watsky party a little late. His initial splash on the spoken word/slam scene occurred way back in 2006, when he secured first place spots at both the Youth Speaks and Brave New Voices slam competitions, and made an appearance on Season 6 of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry.

It’s no surprise then, that his talents and successes as a poet carried over into his rap career; as many say that rap, is essentially poetry set to music. Watsky gained momentum with his first two albums, Watsky in 2009, and my personal favorite, Cardboard Castles in 2013. Songs like “Moral Of The Story”, “Sloppy Seconds”, and “Hey Asshole” ft. Kate Nash, grabbed the attention of young dreamers around the world, who easily connected with his passionate, fire-filled, and often humorous lyrics.

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On August 12th, Watsky released his third album, All You Can Do. If you’re wondering about the cover art, it’s an old photograph of his father. Watsky explained in a live YouTube video on the night of its release that he wanted the album to be a tribute to his parents, and also that there will be an alternate cover released in August which features his mother. Like his previous two albums, its length – of 16 songs – is quite impressive, and after listening to it several times, can say that its quantity does not compromise its quality. Because the album features so many collaborations, its overall sound is uniquely diverse, ranging from old-school hip hop, to classic rock, to modern day indie. Though since the album is so lengthy, I’ll opt for a speedy discussion of my favorite songs from it – the songs which, in my opinion, deserve the most attention:

First up is “Whoa Whoa Whoa”, the album’s fourth track. Beginning with intense piano and tribal-sounding drums, its easy to love right off the bat. Though its the super fast, typical Watsky-style, hilarious lyrics that really get me. Here’s a quick sample: “I go to Miley’s house, I see that Miley’s home, I play Miley’s ribcage with my dick, like it’s a Xylie-phone.” Also, be sure to check out the music video for this one – it includes fire, Bo Burnham, and a hot chick in her bra and underwear.

Coming up next on my list of favorites is “Ink Don’t Bleed”. When I first heard this song, only one word came to mind: Truth, with a capital “T”. This song is thoroughly honest – as the lyrics dedicate an entire verse to apologize to a fan whom he injured during a risky stage dive. Also, Anderson Paak, the featured artist, fits right into the track’s flow with his old-school-sounding drum work and down-to-earth voice. “A man’s gotta man up,” he sings for the song’s chorus, echoing Watsky’s apologetic sincerity. Finally, Watsky puts pressure on everyone from pop-stars, to mega-church leaders, to politicians, to take up a similar policy of honesty.

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Now lets talk about some of the breathtaking female collaborations that can be found on this album. “Right Now” features Lisa Vitale, whose intriguing, youthful voice is a prefect fit for a song that is all about living in the moment. Also, Ariana Deboo offers her sweet, airy voice for “Boomerang”, a love song about that one person you always seem to come back to. Finally, my favorite collaboration on the album is “Tears to Diamonds” with Raquel Rodriguez. The lyric content of this song hit me like an oncoming train. It’s heavy, and unapologetic. He attacks pharmaceutical companies for pushing medicines (specifically anti-depressants) on consumers. “They press our teardrops into diamonds,” Rodriguez sings, “they change our sorrows into gold.”

Next, on a more upbeat note, is “The One” – a song impossible to frown to. The music is fun, the music even more so. He raps about the confusing search for “the one”, saying “All the faker single ladies twerkin to Beyoncé, every single one of ‘em is somebody’s fiancée,” and ponders in his chorus that maybe there’s no such thing as ‘the one’ after all.

Last, but definitely not least is “Never Let It Die”. This song is filled with the passion that Watsky has for his art. He speaks about various stories of strive and encourages the listener to never let go of the dreams that he or she has. “Cause I know that it’s tough, but it’s gotta be somebody, so then why not you?” A chorus of children sing “I’ll never it die, I’ll never let it die, I’ll never let it die,” further emphasizing the importance of today’s young dreamers.

Watsky continues to impress me with everything he does. From his poetry, to his fast-spitting raps, it’s easy to see that he is an artist who knows the value of hard work, and puts every ounce of himself into his work. He kicks off his European tour in mid September, and will touring North America come mid October. Be sure to get tickets before they sell out!