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It was only after having chosen the name Astronautalis for himself while in high school in Jacksonville, Florida that the rapper (born Charles Andrew Bothwell) began to make himself heard on the local circuit, winning battles and competing at the Scribble Jam. Though he was known for his witty freestyling, Astronautalis' musical influences and interests fell outside the hip-hop realm as well, and he performed on the Warped Tour for three years. It was his rhyming, however, that he pursued while studying theater at college in Dallas, and in 2003 he self-released his debut, You and Yer Good Ideas (which was sold only at his live shows), with production help from friend and fellow musician Ben Cooper (Radical Face). It wasn't until two years later that the album was picked up by Orlando-based Fighting Records, which signed him after seeing him perform. After the reissue, the label released his 2006 follow-up, Mighty Ocean and Nine Dark Theaters, a record that found Astronautalis incorporating shoegazer-inspired indie rock. Eyeball Records released his next LP, 2009's Pomegranate, and Fake Four put out 2011's This Is Our Science, a history-themed album that marked the musician's Billboard debut on the Heatseekers Albums chart. He showed up on other artists' albums around this time, including works by frequent collaborator P.O.S. and the Hood Internet's Feat from 2012, before partnering with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and S. Carey and Gayngs' Ryan Olson to form Jason Feathers. The quartet released the unexpected alt-rap album De Oro in 2014. Following the February 2016 EP Sike! by three months, Bothwell's fifth Astronautalis LP, Cut the Body Loose, proved to be his most successful to date, landing on multiple Billboard charts including Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums and Top Rap Albums, where it hit the Top Ten.
© Marisa Brown & Marcy Donelson /TiVo


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