When I was starting my short-lived but glorious "3 Shots" show and needed a rapper to binge drink with me, I called Wax. And when Wax did his first stand-up comedy set ever I was there, sipping on a whiskey in a run down Van Nuys bar, praying he'd be funny so I could supportively laugh without faking a laugh. We share a common love for music, comedy and alcohol, Wax's music is primarily about comedy and alchol (and women), and so when we spoke last week to catch up before he launches his next wave of new music, we talked about...wait for it...music, comedy and alcohol.
It's been a long, strange ride for Wax, but one that's made him one of music's genuinely self-made men. Like Alexander Flaming if Alexander Fleming could freestyle while driving, Wax accidentally discovered how powerful YouTube could be when a 2008 freestyle video done primarily for kicks went viral. He slowly but steadily grew that early fan base into a relatively small but devoted core of people eager to grab his albums and buy tickets to his tours. A brief stint with Def Jam taught him just how ill-fitted he was to being a cog in a larger creative machine, and now he's living modestly but comfortably as that exceedingly rare thing; an artist who wakes up and spends his day doing whatever he feels like.
It's now been more than two years since his last album, Continue..., a project that spawned a massive single, "Rosana," and has given him an a strange sort of split-identity fame. In the U.S. his fans are more niche, they love him for his albums, know every small detail of his life through his podcast. But in Europe, where "Rosana" became a huge hit, he's spotted by people on the street as "that guy from the Rosana video," although they often don't know anything more about him. The success of Continue... also literally bought him time to experiment, to try new things and fail and learn and improve, and so that's exactly what he's been doing.
Wax now has a studio in Burbank along with his friend and co-creator Davey, and the pair simply go into the studio every day and see what happens. "We've been working on my album, we have a whole side project EP of '80s sounding shit, we make beats at random, we write beats at random, we do experiments," he said when we talked. "I've been pretty much hibernating in the studio. So I haven't put out a lot of videos, a bunch of songs, but now I'm preparing to put out a bunch of shit."
That "bunch of shit" is going to come in the form of an onslaught of new songs, videos and new merchandise - creative merch is a staple of Wax's world, he packaged his Scrublife album inside pizza boxes - but the world will get its first official taste of the music Wax has been making during all that studio hibernation via his new single, "This One's on Me." As you should have already guessed if you've been paying any attention whatsoever, on the surface "This One's on Me" is about drinking, after all it's only a short jump away from Bud's classic "this one's for you" campaign, but as is so often true for Wax, drinking is only a delicious, thirst quenching symbol for something larger.
"It's about drinking, but it's really more about friendship," he said. "It's about my brother. When I was broke my brother would always help me out. I was the guy who if we went out my credit card got declined and he would hook me up. And now that I'm having some success with this music shit, I try to pay him back for all the times he helped me. We all have friends, family, people that we want to help. It could be buying someone food, paying someone's rent, but because it's me, it happens to be a drinking song."
So grab a friend, grab a brew, grab an old lady to help across the street, grab whatever gets you in the giving spirit, and prepare for the "This One's on Me" video to drop this coming Friday, August 28. And as bonus points, the video is directed by Ryan Phillippe, who Wax refers to as just Ryan and then, immediately realizing that he sounds like a typical L.A. name-dropper, launches into an explanation of how long he and Ryan Phillipe have known each other, which truthfully only makes the name-dropping vibe worse. It's a strangely hilarious moment in our conversation, but the strange and hilarious just seems to happen naturally when you're around someone who's devoted their life to comedy, music and alcohol.
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]