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The best kept secret in music



HQ: Denton, TX
NOW PLAYING: You & Yer Good Ideas

This gifted white rapper blew minds on the '03 Warped Tour by performing daily in the Code of the Cutz tent, freestyling hilarious and ingenious rhymes based on audience-provided topics like "tube sock," and making believers out of punk royalty like Rancid's Tim Armstrong. As you read this, he's back on Warped, converting more concert-goers into hip-hop heads.

What other MCs do you know who's as well versed in Modest Mouse as he is in MF Doom? Astronautalis's rhymes are brilliant, but his DIY background and work ethic (many Warped bands sport his one-of-a-kind silk-screened trucker hats) separate him from the pack of ironic white rappers.



Friday, February 4
By Shannon Sutlief

Published: Thursday, February 3, 2005

Andy Bothwell looks like just another tow-headed, vintage-T-shirt-wearing college guy you might see weaving through Deep Ellum, looking to score another round. As Astronautalis, one of the growing breed of hip-hop performers who dress more like indie rockers, Bothwell has been called a cross between Eminem and Atom and His Package. But this ain't a novelty act. Astronautalis--formerly of Dallas, currently of Jacksonville, Florida--combines a Southern drawl, clever wordplay, vivid imagery and unconventional rhythms into poetic songs with both the sentiment of indie rock and the urgent beats of hip-hop. On "Gaston Ave.," he softly chants, "Your letters are the ladder I climb rung by rung/To claw my way up to the gates of heaven." His freestyle is also renowned--not only because he's a skinny white dude.
- Dallas Observer


Rapper Astronautalis drops 'da bling

Avenue Writer
Photo courtesy of Matthew Robbins
"Astronatualis" Andy Bothwell brings his freestyling, poetic rap to Common Grounds tonight.

Before his set at Common Grounds tonight, Andy Bothwell will probably take a nap, do some vocal warm-ups and listen to songs like "This Shit Rules" by Against Me!. He'll probably be wearing a pair of tight jeans that look suspiciously similar to the pair you saw in the women's section at American Eagle and you may notice a striking resemblance to Coldplay's front man, Chris Martin.

Then, he's going to get on stage and rap.

Beware of people tripping over your jaw on the floor.

Bothwell is 23-year-old Astronautalis, an innovative rap artist out of Jacksonville who recently signed with Fighting Records. Yes, he can freestyle the hell out of any subject and no, he doesn't wear baggy clothes or speak in Ebonics.

Fighting Records is re-releasing Astronautalis' first album, "You and Yer Good Ideas," which sold 1,000 copies since its release in March 2004.

In July, it will be available at major stores such as Best Buy.

"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard," Bothwell says, seemingly confused at the idea of a major debut. "It doesn't make any sense."

Audiences will like Astronautalis because his music can't be pigeonholed into one genre. It appeals to indie rockers, country folk and the hip-hop community; a product of the mix tape culture in which Bothwell and his friends grew up (a la "High Fidelity").

"I try to make an amalgam of music that I would want someone to make for me," Bothwell says.

His music has been described as "country rap." Although Bothwell says he hopes it's more than just that. His lyrics aren't about "dropping it like it's hot" or "bling-blinging." It's about life - a poetic account of real issues anyone can relate to.

"I get my inspiration from everything: trains, trees, oceans," he says. "The only thing I've actively tried to avoid [in my lyrics] is politics."

Bothwell's second album will be available nationwide soon after his first album is re-released. The second recording is based on his experiences of growing up on Jacksonville Beach.

"It's about stages of your life and growing out of those stages," he says. Bothwell said he feels old enough to be objective about adolescence but young enough to still relate.

Aside from his lyrics, Astronautalis is appealing because it's evident in his performance he isn't trying to sell a gimmick. When he performs, the passion he emanates is pure and intense.

"People have come to expect a certain style and presentation, particularly from white rappers," he says. General hip-hop audiences get confused and "weirded out" by his performance, Bothwell said. "I'm actively trying to play less rap shows and more indie rock shows."

One thing an audience can expect from an Astronautalis show is a freestyle segment. Bothwell takes topics from audience suggestions and improvises lyrics on the spot - a skill he developed in high school while walking the dog and hanging out with friends at skate parks.

"I do it to test myself and make myself better at it," he says.

Bothwell freestyled most of the set of his first show, although it wasn't supposed to be the case.

"I forgot my lyrics half way through the show," he says. "There's no recording or documentation of it, which is good."

Since that rocky beginning, Bothwell honed his hobby into skill and ultimately made a career out it.

"It's a whole lot better than having a real job," he says.

Astronautalis will be on the Vans Warped Tour for a third year in July and August.

But if you can't wait until Warped Tour, see him at Common Grounds tonight along with The Chicharones, Lord Grunge, Bleu Bird and Science Non Fiction. The cover charge is $6. - Independent Florida Alligator


by Ezra Ace Caraeff

A onetime participant in the competitive freestyle circuit, Dallas MC, Astronautalis, bowed out in favor of a new musical direction: indierock. He lost the hiphop bravado, but not the rhyming skills, and with his debut You and Yer Good Ideas Astronautalis meshes introspective indierock with a gamut of beat-driven rhymes and vocal whispers. Like a more commercial take on the Anticon-sound, Astronautalis stands on the forefront of hiphop's suburban evolution.

Astronautalis performs at Conan's on Thursday March 31st

When I listen to your music I hear just as much of an indierock influence as I do hiphop. Is the meshing of the two genres deliberate, or just the underlying effect of being involved in both worlds?

Where I grew up (Jacksonville Beach, Florida) "indie hiphop" and "indierock" were never too far from each other. From skate video soundtracks and our widespread "mixed tape culture," it kept our tastes all over the place while keeping our scenes tied at the hip. That sort of culture had me freestyling over The Halo Benders as often as I was freestyling over Lord Finesse and tagging the bathroom at a Wolfie show. I suppose I have always aimed to emulate that sort of aesthetic; albums that sound like mixed tapes and musical collages.

Does the "white rapper" stigma bother you?

How could it? Aside from the fact that the most popular rappers in America on both an underground (Atmosphere) and mainstream (Eminem) level are white, it is what I am. It is the truth; I am a white guy who raps. On a related note: I am also a white reader, a white driver and a white taxpayer.

I've heard some MP3s of you taking random requests at live shows for freestyle topics. What is the weirdest one you've gotten?

I once had a girl ask me to freestyle to her in bed… I had to leave.

How was touring on the Warped Tour as an unsigned artist? Was the audience receptive to you? Are you doing it again this year?

Warped Tour has been great to me. The administration was kind of a pain in my ass, but the bands and the fans have this built-in punk rock ethic about looking out for the little guy. We have done quite well, but this will be our last year on the tour. My new music is very slow and quiet, while the Warped Tour has been very accepting of my weirdo music, I don't know if there is any room for banjos and accordions.

Young Black Teenagers or 3rd Bass?

Is this a white rapper test? 3rd Bass... MC Serch put on Nas. - Portland Mercury


You & Yer Good Ideas (Fighting Records 2005)


Feeling a bit camera shy


When he stepped off the stage of the world famous Scribble Jam Battle (proving grounds for such rappers as: eminem, slug, and sage francis), Astronautalis knew it was time for a change. After spending the last 8 years as a well-respected battle rapper, and rising from lunchrooms to concert halls, the thrill was gone. His famous freestyle skill was all there, but the creative void was no longer filled by the braggadocio and machismo of the battle circuit, he needed something more.

On the long ride home from Cincinnati to Dallas, his headphones full of outlaw country and 'shoegazer' rock, he began to shape his new path, and pen the words of the new Astronautalis. Blending styles of indie rock, electro, and talkin' blues into hip-hop, this rapper has developed a sound like no other. He traded in his verbal weapons of mass destruction for songs about the railroad, lost love, and surreal dreams of sharing doughnuts with tupac and grapes with fat joe. His music has become an amalgam of synthesizers, old funk drum samples, and what can only be classified as 'an unnatural obsession' with slide guitar. Making the audience question, 'is this rap?'

His live show is a theatrical mix of music and performance art, a lecture and stand up comedy, audience guided freestyles and well crafted songs. A show that has shared the stage with everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to The Polyphonic Spree, and taken Astronautalis all the way from the back porch at a 30 year-old texas Bar-B-Que to the Van's Warped Tour, and all points in between. It makes you wonder how a bow-legged, colorblind suburbanite with a mohawk could ever learn to rap like this.