First Listen: Wax in your ears

Social media has not only changed the way that most celebrities interact with their fans, but it has also changed the way that they rise through the ranks from every day Joe to the big time. YouTube has seen many people, like Lucas Cruikshank (also known as Fred), Bo Burnham and even Justin Beiber go from high Internet popularity into the spotlight.

All of their stories are similar. They taped themselves doing what they loved, whether it be acting or singing, and put it on the Internet for everyone to enjoy for free. Eventually someone in a high-up position saw their talent and got in contact with them, and they were soon thrust into the public eye. Among these people hoping for their big breakthrough is Michael Jones, better known by his stage name Wax.

Wax lives in Los Angeles where he writes and records music for a living. His main style of music is rap and hip-hop, but Wax has also learned how to play the guitar among other instruments. Wax was recently signed by Def Jam Records, which makes him label mates with artists like Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Asher Roth. Before getting signed earlier this year though, Wax depended solely on the Internet to give people the opportunity to hear his music.

“I first got the idea to put my music up on the Internet in 2006 or 2007 when Vibe held a contest,” Wax said. “It was something where people put a video of themselves rapping up there and the winner would get $10,000 or something like that.”

Although he didn’t end up winning the contest, he found out that people were interested in his music and wanted to see more of it.

“I was looking at the video and it got tons and tons of views, so me and my brother decided to start up our YouTube channel and put our own stuff up there.”

Wax’s interest in the music industry started at a young age. “As a little kid we always had cable, so we were always watching MTV,” he said. “I’d be watching these rappers and rock bands and music was just something that I became infatuated with.”

At the age of 10, he received his first guitar and began playing music with his brother Christopher Jones, better known by his stage name Herbal T.

Wax possesses a versatile skill set that is rarely seen in the music industry today. He can freestyle, write songs that make the listener feel a whole range of emotions and create melodies with his guitar, sometimes all in the same album. His versatility is something that is not only in his music, but in his stage name.

“Wax is something that you can take and mold it into any shape you want it to be,” he said. “Plus it’s always in your ears.”

Wax first got attention on YouTube for his freestyle titled “New Crack.” “That was just me driving around San Diego in my car singing over a Stephen Marley song called “Traffic Jam” but that was the first time anyone really took notice of my videos.”

Wax talked about how YouTube and social media allowed people to find out about his music. “YouTube’s been the biggest for me,” he said. “And since it’s so easy to share, I can just put up a video and people can spread it on Facebook or Twitter.”

He said that social media not only helps his music reach a wider fan base, it also “helps to make the world more accessible.”  Wax also warned that using social media to promote one’s skills alone isn’t enough to make it.“It’s so easy just to put something out, but you can’t go out too fast,” he said. “The reason why me and my brother got a lot of views is because our content was good. You have to perfect your craft first.”

Wax was signed to Def Jam Records in March,shortly after releasing his first mix tape, Scrublife. “I’m always working on music, so why not put it out for people to hear?” he said. He released a second mix tape this year called Eviction Notice.

Wax currently has over 250,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel and over 20,000 followers on his Twitter page. His videos have been viewed over 20 million times since he first started uploading in 2007.

Wax ended his most recent tour in November and his most recent song titled “Two Wheels” is available on iTunes.