The best creative moments come from just going for it, and not getting too hung up on following rules. South Carolina-born, Indiana-bred rapper Midwxst is cut from a unique cloth when it comes to his music past. He's channeled his school days in band and vocal classes into a rap career, truly marching to the beat of his own drum. Midwxst's bold decision to rap over hyperpop beats, which mix the frenetic pace of EDM with the more surreal side of modern pop songs, paid off, and led to the birth of the guitar-driven, vulnerable ode "Trying," his biggest song yet, which has been streamed over 5 million times on Spotify.
Born in Columbia, S.C. and raised by a family with a diverse taste for different music, Midwxst moved around often due to his mother accepting different job promotions while his dad was in the Air Force. They settled in Carmel, Ind. when the young talent was in fifth grade. During that time, he had to take vocal class as a part of the local curriculum. Plus, playing trumpet and baritone horn up until he was 15 years old built a solid foundation for a future in music. Midwxst then started to produce music using GarageBand and sell verses. His recording and rapping skills were sharpened by making diss tracks about his friends. Music was his outlet and a way to vent about depression, teenage angst and the isolation he felt while living in Indiana as a Black youth. SoundCloud and Discord helped expand Midwxst's taste for varying sounds and genres, and made him feel free to rap over whatever or however he wanted to.
Throughout 2020, he let loose plenty of new music and even dropped the nine-track project Secrets that October. A month later, he released "Trying," the track that changed Midwxst's career by bringing more eyes and ears his way. Rapping and singing about feelings of abandonment and struggling with depression, it's a rap song formatted like an emo track. "Walk a long road with myself, no one by my side/Put out my hand and reach for help, but nobody saw my signs/Don't want wake up, every day I been trying," he delivers over the mellow groove.
The Midwest native kicked off 2021 with the project SUMMER03 in March, which features "Trying" and dropped the music video—now at over 1 million views—for the ode that same month. The growing popularity of the song led to Midwxst signing a record deal with Geffen Records this past June, which he announced with the arrival of "Ruthless." In September, the rising rhymer released his major label debut EP, Back In Action, which includes "Made It Back," "Tic Tac Toe" and "LA" featuring Ka$hdami.
Midwxst is gaining a steady following for creating more atypical SoundCloud rap fare. This level of versatility bodes well for what's to come in his career. As he basks in his newfound success, the genre-fluid rapper is currently a student at Belmont University in Nashville, learning the ins and outs of Audio Engineering and Technology.
Get to know Midwst in XXL's The Break.
Hometown: Carmel, Ind.
I grew up listening to: "A lot of Kanye [West], then TLC, Aaliyah, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Destiny's Child—that's all my mom. My dad was heavy hip-hop; Pharrell, N.E.R.D, the Neptunes—that's all that I grew up on. And then from there, I also found J. Cole, Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne—that whole pocket of rappers. People that kickstarted me getting into music."
My style’s been compared to: "From [my EP], Back In Action, it's been a lot of, just for like, a lot of [Playboi] Carti, just for beat selection on some. Ken Carson, and [Lil] Uzi [Vert] for the singles I was putting out beforehand. But really, I don't get a lot of comparisons like half the time because I don't think a lot of people can come up with comparisons to give me. A lot of people say X[XXTentacion] for the fact that I'm versatile, Juice WRLD for the topics, but that's really about it."
I’m going to blow up because: "Numbers do not lie, my friend. 'Tic Tac Toe' was one of my favorite songs I put out. It's like my third biggest song on Spotify now out of all my hyperpop shit, too. If I can take a risk in that area, and have it pay off that well, fuck it. Everybody in their career has had an album where some people be like, 'I don't know about this.' Chance [The Rapper] had The Big Day. Them niggas hated it. Kanye at first had 808s [& Heartbreak], and people hated 808s until they found out how impactful that was."
What’s your most slept-on song, and why?: "I got a bunch of songs on SoundCloud. They are scattered across all different accounts. But, one of my most slept-on songs as of recent has to be 'Star,' off of my other album [Back In Action]. It gets the crowd hype as fuck. It's my intro song whenever I do live shows. A close second would be 'Identity.' It's more of a laid-back drum song, with some guitar on it."
My standout records to date have been: "Definitely 'Trying,' 'Tic Tac Toe,' 'Slide' with ericdoa and Slump6s—that's the homies. That session had to be one of the funniest studio sessions I ever been in."
My standout moments to date have been: "I had a show in Philadelphia [at] Overcast Festival. I heard a full crowd of people sing my song back to me. That was the most impactful moment of me as an artist, ever. No bullshit, no sugarcoating. I got up on stage and the whole room erupted. I told everybody to put they flashlights on, and it just lit up the room. I talked to a fan after the show, and he gave me the biggest hug ever, and he was like, 'Your music saved my life.'"
Most people don’t know: "If they got a sport, I probably played it. I used to play soccer, quit it, baseball, quit it, football, quit it. Went to a tennis camp, quit it, went to a golf camp, quit it. I accidentally hit my [golf] instructor upside the head with a driver, ’cause they wanted to walk behind me on the driving range. He just needed a little ice pack on his head. I got embarrassed, and just never went back. Also, I have two Great Danes."
I’m going to be the next: "Midwxst."
"LA" featuring Ka$hdami
"Slide" featuring Slump6s and ericdoa
Back In Action