Watsky – “All You Can Do” – Across The Ocean

Watsky – “All You Can Do”

I am new to hip-hop. I’ve caught glimpses of a few artists here and there, usually by accident at a festival or in the back of a friend’s car, but nothing’s ever caught my ear.

watsky-all-you-can-do

As per this lack of experience, I was mistakenly unenthused when given Watsky’s ‘All You Can Do’ to listen to, but boy did he change my tune. 27 year old slam poet turned rapper out of San Fransisco, George Watsky’s fourth studio album showcases 16 tracks of lyrical splendor. He pulls away from the rapper plus DJ convention, for a full band and a cross section of genres, such as old school hip-hop, classic rock, and modern indie. Watsky explores complex ideologies and voices important meanings, while the album still remains a tribute to his parents. Appropriately, the album has a distinct ‘70s feel across the board, and features quotes from interviews with them, and a photo of his father as the album art. The following explores the album track by track, demonstrating that, for Watsky, quantity in no way compromises quality.

1. Title track ‘All You Can Do’ is light and catchy. Featuring Limetta Rose’s vocal talents, this opener sets up the vibe for the rest of the album to follow.

2. ‘Stand For Something’ (feat Anderson Paak) starts off as a ‘70s rock number but inevitably evolves into hip-hop. He expresses an important message about being yourself, staying true, and not giving in to society’s pressures.

3. ‘Bet Against Me’ challenges Watsky’s cynics with clever, witty lyrics. It’s bold and confident, and showcases the impressively fast rapping style that he is known for. It also features an interview with his Dad, Paul Watsky.

4. His super fast rapping is on display again in ‘Woah Woah Woah’. Featuring powerful piano sections and tribal drumming, this track is riddled with passion.

5. ‘Ink Don’t Bleed’ is an apology about a stage diving incident that happened while he was on tour in Europe. Per old school drumming and heartbreakingly honest lyrics, it’s clear that he feels truly and deeply sorry.

6. Lisa Vitale’s youthful vocals on ‘Right Now’ are perfect to complement Watsky on this song about remembering where you come from. He takes us through moments from his childhood, and ultimately urges us to live in the moment.

7. “You think my life is different
I get your confusion
But you got some delusions
Yeah I’m fucking awesome
But I gotta out you
You probably think I’m in there
Writing songs about you (ooooh!)”

The content in ‘My First Stalker’ is self-explanatory, written humorously as a part joke, part tribute about a fan that camped outside his house for a few days.

8. ‘The One’ talks about how Watsky doesn’t believe in ‘the one’ and that the world contains many beautiful ladies. It features a chorus of children’s voices, urging us to practice patience and hold on to our dreams.

9. ‘Boomerang’ talks about that relentless relationship that you continuously fall back into. Featuring Ariana Deboo’s sweet airy voice, it is a long song that is universally relatable.

10. ‘Let’s Get High and Watch Planet Earth’ is a long track ultimately insisting that we take a break from life’s stresses. It featuring another Paul Watsky sound bite and details a date that he went on with a girl who made his heart skip a beat.

11. ‘Hand Over Hand’ (feat. Andreson Paak) is a low-key number featuring vocals accompanied by guitar and minimal percussion. It talks about the American dream, addressing society’s expectations, and realizing that we need each other.

12. ‘Tears To Diamonds’ features Raquel Rodriguez and is the album’s heaviest. It attacks pharmaceutical companies for pushing medicines (particularly anti-depressants) on consumers.

“But there’s a limit to the shit you can endure
You get a prescription and you’re thinking that it’s pure
But baby maybe it’s a problem when you got a problem
And you get addicted to the cure”

Give this song a careful listen, it’s extremely provocative.

13. ‘Grass is Greener’ is tremendously relatable. It tells an emotive story about visiting the hospital to support someone he clearly cared about, in this case a girl.

14. ‘Never Let it Die’ is an opinionated yet unpretentious statement about society’s obsession with material goods.

15. ‘Sarajevo’ (feat Dia Frampton) is a powerful anecdote that provides an insight into Watsky’s background. He talks about his parents being Christian and Jewish, as parallel to a story about a Christian -Muslim couple who were killed in Sarajevo whilst trying to flee the city.

16. ‘Cannonball’ features Stephen Stills singing, to complement Watsky’s spoken word and rap about his parents. It indicates the value he places in having a close relationship with his parents. A stunning finale to a wonderfully cohesive release.

Akin to his previous albums – Watsky in 2009 and Cardboard Castles in 2013, All You Can Do is an eclectic masterwork, exhibiting Watsky’s wit for lyric writing, gift for story telling, and boundless passion for the important aspects of life. It really has something for everyone – the hooks are enjoyable to sing, and the raps just enjoyable to sit and think about. For me, the inexperienced hip-hop listener, this album has inspired me to give other artists of this genre the attention they deserve.

Claire Xian

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Claire Xian is an American actress, model, artist, and occasional film producer and director. She became known for playing the role of the vicious and ill-mannered Ling Woo in the television series Ally McBeal (1998–2002), for which she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award.

Oh wait, that's Lucy Liu.

Claire is an arts student, beard enthusiast and a hot dog chef, with a deep passion for music.
Claire Xian