“The 6” has swiftly positioned itself as an incubator for talent that is next-to-blow. With artists such as Drake, Jessie Reyez and Tory Lanez already in heavy rotation, The Weeknd’s 88Glam are furthering their own Toronto buzz with 88Glam 2.
The XO duo, comprised of 88 Camino and Derek Wise, enlisted Canadian producers Wondagurl and Murda Beatz on their self-titled 2017 album. Most notably, the tape’s introductory track — “12,” featuring The Weeknd — bolstered their talent with ethereal raps. Their breakout “Bali” collab with NAV from the project notched upward of 34 million streams on Spotify.
88Glam’s new single, “Lil Boat,” follows suit by shouting out MC Lil Yachty over its trap-tinged melody. Billboard connected with the pair on how their new 88Glam 2 album is elevating the soundscapes of their first, advice from The Weeknd, and why Toronto hip-hop is stronger than ever.
Your new album, 88Glam 2, was recently released. What are you most excited about with its debut?
88 Camino: I think I am most excited about being able to take the new music on the road. We have been performing our first project for the past year. That is such a big part of our act, right? Still, the music is only a small portion of what people connect to us as an act. So with the new music, we can almost embody it. We will be able to present the fully developed idea of what the project is supposed to represent when we perform it live.
Derek Wise: For me, it is this feeling of getting off all of the creative content that we have for our fans. I know they have been waiting for it. We have not dropped a project of music in a little while. Again, there is just this feeling of giving fans what they want. It means the world.
The songs “Bali” featuring NAV and “12” featuring The Weeknd experienced mainstream success. Which forthcoming single do you anticipate will be next to go?
88: We just shot the video for our third single with NAV. It is called “It’s a Flex.” That is going to be our third song. We are super excited about that. With me, that is my favorite song on the project. I can’t wait for people to experience that, especially with visuals.
Like I mentioned in the first question, the music is not a small portion, it is very important to us, but we still like to deliver the full package. [This includes the] music, being able to perform it live, and bring the fans into our lifestyle.
We like fans to experience it outside of their headphones. We love to create an entire world for them, which includes live performances and the visuals. Those are two considerable elements that are all for the fans. They can connect with us as artists.
Describe your experience on the Freshman Tour with NAV?
DW: Yes, we are all a part of the same camp, label and everything. Going back [to the tour], it was more of a family. It is not like walking into your boss, and other artists on the label feel like employees at the label. It is a family. NAV is like the big brother to us. Whatever advice he has given us, whatever ropes he has shown, we’ve grown [from], and it has just been that ever since. What we have is very genuine.
How has the XO imprint influenced your artistry?
88: With the XO imprint, it is [a matter of] having to meet music at a certain standard, and delivering music at a high taste level, right? We are following in the footsteps of the biggest pop star of our time. So it is always [known]. That is the bar. The bar has already been set. We are trying to deliver the best content and be able to play on the same field as [The Weeknd].
You can’t sign to XO if you are not meeting a certain expectation. We know that NAV does numbers. We know that Abel [The Weeknd] does numbers. With that being said, we know we have to come to play every time. We have to make sure we deliver quality shit, every single time.
What have you learned following your self-titled debut that helped you prepare for this major studio LP?
88: I would say [we learned] how cutthroat people can be. For me, I know I have developed a thicker skin to criticism towards our shit, especially when we are experimenting with different sounds. We are [testing] different ranges and still trying to discover ourselves as artists.
We know there are going to be listeners and then there are people that are super cutthroat. Still, some people appreciate it. You know? We are distancing ourselves from letting the negativity affect us. [It cannot] get us down.
We use it as fuel. Even when it is not constructive criticism or people hate on our shit, we just say, “Aight! We are going to go even harder.” I think now we have been able to kind of experience that and adapt. So, now we are not taking things as personally. Now, it is like, “OK, they don’t like that, now we are going to do this.”
DW: What I took from this was the confidence that came from this experience. Now that we have done it, we see the reaction. We have seen how our rollout works. We have seen the excitement that it brings. It gave us more confidence going into this next project, and how to deal with all of it.
As a two-person collective, how do your personalities impact your studio sessions?
88: Being able to compromise and meet each other halfway, it is like being brothers, you know? Brothers get into fights. You have to learn how to share everything. Back when [I was younger] my brother and I had to learn how to share everything. It is like, “[Give your brother] 15 minutes on the laptop.” He had an idea of going to the Jordan store, and I wanted to go to the Adidas store. So, we meet in the middle.
We work with each other. You know what I mean? We definitely have different personalities, but we compromise because there is a bigger end goal. We understand that between each other, and it helps us. I don’t know. Chemistry just lives, [while] sharing. That is how I see it.
DW: For me, it works out. We do not have a structure to what we do in the studio. It is more organic. We do whatever when we get in there. So there is no set formula for how we create a good vibe in the studio. We just create a good record. It is us going in and doing what we want to do. It either works, or it doesn’t. That is something we have established.
88: Yeah, following on what Derek was saying, we knew what we were getting into before all of this. I knew what type of music he was making. He knew where I was creatively. Sometimes we listen to different music.
We appreciate each other as artists, so coming into our collective, [there was respect in place]. Entering into our agreement as a collective, we knew that we understood each other as separate individuals. We knew we could make something cool.
Name your favorite moment recording 88Glam 2.
88: Yes, Derek, our road manager, and main in-house producer were driving to a store in LA, they played me a song. There are moments where 88Glam will record songs, and we are not together. I remember playing a song in the car that [Derek previously] recorded. I remember being like, “Oh, my God!” The track ended up being the 88Glam 2 introduction.
Then I went to the studio very shortly after. I recorded my part “Purple Baguette” in about 15 minutes. It came out to be something that I was so excited about. That is where a lot of our best shit comes from — when I am really excited about something Derek did.
Then I go off of his flow and his idea. It just comes into fruition so genuinely. That was the most exciting moment for me. I thought, “Oh, my God, this is such a good song.” It was straightforward because of what Derek already laid out. So, yes, “Purple Baguettes.”
DW: My most favorite song on the album was probably making “Lil Boat.” We were in the studio with producers. They were like really [great]. It was like they got it.
Every sound they made towards that beat was right on-spot. I caught the vibe off of it. Camino caught the vibe off it. The vibes in the studio that day were crazy. We were able to record that song in like an hour and a half, or two. That was probably my favorite moment creating this album.
Share with your fans advice The Weeknd has given you that they could apply to their own lives.
DW: Honestly, pretty much just be you. So, whatever music you want to make and put out to the world, just do it. We are not doing anything outside of that. [It is important to] be doing you. Your sound should be like a version of you coming out to the world.
88: Let your authenticity speak. Remain true to your art. That is the most important [practice]. If you are capping, your art is going to shine through eventually. Being yourself in your music is the most important thing — being genuine in every capacity.
What do you need listeners to look out for?
88: We are still testing the waters. I feel I am coming into this as an individual. This is just the beginning. So, be prepared for this shit to go far. [Laughs] We are still experimenting with our sound.
We are still learning. For us, well, I still consider this as a mixtape, although this is our second album. We are experimenting with different things, and I think the music is just going to keep on growing and get better.
DW: Yes, pretty much, there will be more music. We sat back last year and went into a learning seat. We are patient with ourselves. We wanted to approach this [LP] the right way this time around.
I feel like we really did that. Now, we are [creating something] fans, and our new listeners [can] play through. We are showing our tastemaking levels. We keep people entertained. We are getting the confidence, whether it is in [the creation of] videos, or with anything. There is more content, more materials, more music, and more 88Glam.