midwxst discusses his Midwestern roots and latest EP, ‘E3’
by Tiara Starks
Photo by Xavier Luggage
South Carolina-born rapper and singer-songwriter midwxst is here and he isn’t going anywhere. The 20-year-old is best known for his previously released projects, “SUMMER03” and “better luck next time.” But, last month, he really solidified his place in the music scene with the release of his latest album, “E3.”
midwxst grew up in the Midwest, specifically in Indianapolis. After graduating high school, he took his music career more seriously and signed with Geffen Records, a major label. While signing could mean relinquishing some of the creative freedom an artist might have, midwxst’s identity remains almost identical to the one he had pre-industry. midwxst has already garnered over 2 million Spotify monthly listeners. He has released single after single. Songs such as “223’s (feat. BabyTron)” and “i know you hate me” have racked up almost 20 million streams each.
The American Midwest has bred a new wave of rappers and singers who are taking the music industry by storm. While midwxst isn’t the first artist to burst onto the rap scene from that region, you can tell that he is passionate about where he comes from and acknowledges it.
“I really love my state because it's like, without that, without the nothingness that everybody may say is in Indiana, all the corn and all the tractors and whatever, without any of that, I wouldn't be able to be the person I am today,” he says.
His humble perspective on his career pairs well with his curious and still youthful nature that he has retained since his grade school days.
“I was like a social butterfly in high school, in a sense,” midwxst shares. “I didn't really have a friend group. I didn't really have a certain, I had like, four friends that I consider and still hang with and call my friends to this day.”
In high school, things changed slightly.
“I'd say, [in] 10th grade, I got bullied. Just straight up. It was what it was. I was the shortest kid in the grade. I was young, bro. I had a faux hawk. I understand the faux hawk hate, but everything else wasn't valid.”
Although things may look different now, midwxst hasn’t changed too much. Just ask him about his favorite Pixar movie and he’ll tell you it’s specifically “Cars 2.” As a listener, it’s crazy to think that he only graduated from high school two years ago. midwxst agrees.
“It's cool to me because it just shows that it's growth,” he says. “I'm just sitting with the exact same emotions I felt sitting in algebra class.”
His recently released EP, “E3,” can be described as a perfectly packaged debut for the emerging artist. When it comes to the creative influences behind one of the music videos of his breakout singles from “E3” entitled “heartache blues,” he starts to answer by shouting out his director Ari Nissenbaum, who is the director behind the videos for his other songs such as “Tally,” which features rapper Denzel Curry.
The song “heartache blues” has a music video that includes some niche film references. midwxst specifically says he was inspired by “old Korean thrillers and drama movies.” One of the dramas that he name dropped was a 1970s Martin Scorsese film — “Taxi Driver.”
“What if we tried to have some sort of ode to that? And that whole leather look and the whole biker look at the pit stop, all of that was really just chosen for inspo from ‘Taxi Driver.’”
Unlike most artists who tend to niche down as they’ve gained momentum in the industry, it’s hard to put a genre-based label on midwxst. His songs range from hyperpop to hip-hop to emo rap to trap, and to be honest, he doesn’t just stop there.
“I probably just describe it as alternative or alternative rap or [alternative] pop because that is just experimental,” he says.
While he cites both commercial artists like Tyler, the Creator, Frank Ocean, XXXTentacion and independent artists such as hyperpop singer-songwriter Jane Remover and musician Quantic, midwxst has been able to craft a unique sound. It will come as no surprise to both his loyal and newly minted listeners that he has found his own voice in a sea of cookie cutter artists.
Keep up with midwxst on Instagram and Twitter, and make sure to listen to his new EP, “E3.” To purchase tickets for his upcoming North American Tour starting Oct. 19, visit midwxst.com.