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New Wavey is dark and subterranean; its songs are filled with spooky, pitched-down vocal samples, chilly, rattling drum patterns, and hazy ambient synths that sometimes hang in the air like a fog. The rapper found a great foil in Jeremiah Meece (aka Jeremiah Chrome of experimental production duo The-Drum), who produced the bulk of New Wavey. The-Drum also produced a couple tracks on the mixtape, and the group is part of a collection of friends (which also includes R&B vocal group Jody, who appear on the mixtape) Baldwin has made since moving to town last August. "Chicago is like my home now," he says. "The people here took me in and really supported me a lot."
Baldwin grew up in Cincinnati and spent most of his life in the confines of that city. He'd watch music videos as a kid and says his music career began when he started writing poetry in elementary school. He began to pursue making music following a short stint at the University of Cincinnati ("I was like, 'three quarters is enough,'" Baldwin says). In 2008 he formed a duo called the Zoo Krew, which he performed in under the name Kit Kittlez—local rap site Elevator wrote about the group a few times before Baldwin decided to go his own way.
After a brief stint in Atlanta Baldwin moved to Chicago, where he linked up with James King, aka the GTW, who introduced Baldwin to The-Drum. At one point The-Drum ended up playing some beats for Baldwin, who took to the group's style and tried his hand at rapping over some songs they sent him; Baldwin recorded vocals for a beat Meece produced, and it became the first song on New Wavey, "Lights On." The collaboration snowballed from there, and after about a month Baldwin recorded all the vocals for his mixtape.
The-Drum contributed a lot to Baldwin finding his sound, but the group wasn't alone in helping the MC figure things out. "Chicago really inspired my whole sound," he says. He's built up a good network here too, which he calls the underworld. "It's kind of the mainstream of the underground scene," Baldwin says. It's mostly a loose assemblage of friends such as The-Drum, the GTW, Supreme Cuts, Bengfang, Jody; many of those folks played an unofficial Pitchfork Music Festival afterparty called P2, which was Baldwin's first solo show in Chicago. Baldwin has also found plenty of support from the people behind Elevator, who liked his work in the Zoo Krew and have since filmed and edited the music videos for Baldwin's solo work.
Baldwin is going to team up with Elevator to make another video for a New Wavey track (he says it'll most likely be for the tune he cut with Jody, "My Bad Bitch"), and he's planning a concert to celebrate the mixtape, which he hopes will happen at the end of August. The details for the show are scant at the moment, but it already has a name—it's new wavey, of course. Baldwin excels at making music that's murky, but he's pretty comfortable presenting himself under the new-wavey banner. "It's just like the whole package," he says of the term. "It's just a lifestyle, basically."