Typically, a musician's choice of touring partners says much about him or her. Exhibit A: Astronautalis.
The Virginia-born, Seattle-via-Minneapolis rapper, born Andy Bothwell, has shared bills with Tegan and Sara, k-os, Flobots, Bleubird, Sims and Busdriver. Every name on that list is tied to Indie and/or Alt Hip Hop. The singular exception is Tegan and Sara, who made their feelings on popular Hip Hop values clear by publicly reprimanding Odd Future's Tyler, the Creator for his controversial, misogynistic lyrics. By contrast, the sisters endorsed Bothwell by both touring alongside him and Tegan guesting on “Contrails,” a track on This Is Our Science, Astronautalis' fourth record.
These connections tell you everything to anticipate about the content of Astro's music — it’s smart, peculiar, wordplay-infatuated, open-minded and inoffensive. The results don't stray too far from that primer.
At 12, the rapper's older brother introduced him to the genre via MC Lord Finesse's 1992 album, Return of the Funky Man. Soon after, Bothwell taught himself how to rap by freestyling and battle rapping (he has history with Cincinnati’s late Scribble Jam), but he would never actually write a song until around age 20.
The variety of 2011's Science demonstrates Bothwell's versatility and care as a musician, as he weaves his words over burnt-soul Blues, a soothing piano ballad, Chamber Pop and super-synthy Electro Pop. Hip Hop is at his roots, but expect Astronautalis to play further and further past the style's conventional boundaries with time.
ASTRONAUTALIS performs Friday, Feb. 8 with Why? and Dream Tiger in the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre downtown. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.