Credit: Flo Ngala

Skizzy Mars’ upcoming tour is a short run. But as his first since 2019, plus an upcoming album written with live shows in mind, and with five of the seven shows sold out, the New York City-based rapper is gearing up for a memorable two weeks. Named after his upcoming album, the Bad As I Wanna Be tour covers Mars’ decade-long repertoire, from his earliest releases only found on Soundcloud, to previously unreleased songs from the new record, and every album in between. Early fans remember his music for its energetic beats and wild lyrics focused on partying. Mars, who first signed with a label at 19, keeps the uplifting vibes, but he’s since done away with the crazy behavior, and his recent releases reflect that. His music has taken a more introspective turn as his lifestyle changed. As he approached his mid- to late 20s, Mars tells City Paper that he began dealing with repercussions from a party-centric lifestyle. “I’ve always been honest in my music, and I felt it was my obligation to talk about what I was going through.” But rather than pair the heavy topics he covers (personal relationships and drug addiction, for example) to a somber beat, Mars challenged himself to maintain an energy that would have wider appeal. The goal with Bad As I Wanna Be, and his previous album, Fun and Problems, he says, “was to make anthemic music that also has some substance behind it.” As an avid music listener himself, Mars knows fans don’t always want artists’ sound to evolve. “People rarely like change,” he says, but a lot of fans have stuck with him throughout his 10-years career. The nearly sold-out Bad As I Wanna Be tour is a testament to the longevity of Mars’ music. And none of that has been accidental. Mars’ own personal playlists include a range of musical styles that extend beyond rap. He wants his music to evolve with the tastes of the time. At 29, he says, “I don’t want to get aged out of this shit.” He knows he has to keep chasing what’s new and what excites him. That means working with emerging artists and trying out alternative styles in his own music. “I can make music that’s true to myself, but the challenge is making it appeal to everyone else.” Skizzy Mars plays at 7:30 p.m. on March 8 at the Black Cat. $25. —Camila Bailey