Canadian Hip-Hop Duo 88Glam Cultivates Alien Sound and Aesthetic

Canadian Hip-Hop Duo 88Glam Cultivates Alien Sound and AestheticEXPAND
Photo by Matt Adams
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88Glam is a rising hip-hop duo out of Toronto comprising two rappers and longtime friends. 88 Camino and Derek Wise were pursuing solo careers before joining forces under the Weeknd's Canadian record label, XO. They broke out with the Nav-featured 2017 single "Bali" and have continued generating a buzz via a mix of trap beats, Auto-Tuned vocals, and surreal music videos.

The duo is on its first headlining tour of the United States, in support of its debut studio album, 88Glam 2. At this point, Camino and Wise are still gaining confidence in performing together through repetition on the road.

"You start off on tour and you still have butterflies and you're kind of nervous," Camino says. "About midway through the tour, all of that stuff goes away. You're really in your comfort zone. We're about four or five shows into our U.S. tour, so we're getting there now."

And they're still picking up tricks for their live shows. "One of the things we've learned is keeping the momentum going," Wise says. "It's easy for people to get distracted. We're living in a generation where everyone has ADHD. So we talk a lot about which songs we're going to play in certain moments. Maybe one of our songs gets boring at a certain point, so we cut off a verse or something like that. There are many different strategies for keeping the attention of the crowd."

88Glam's sound and aesthetic are perhaps best exemplified by "Lil Boat," the first single off 88Glam 2. The song features a sparse trap beat and the duo's hybrid style of singing and rapping, which is heavily manipulated in the studio for an unnatural-sounding effect. Equally alien is the corresponding music video, in which Camino and Wise navigate a red-filtered landscape populated by giant poodles and pole-dancing women.

The song was created more or less spontaneously, according to Camino. He and Wise entered the studio with the New York-based DJ/producer duo Take a Daytrip and created a handful of beats that appear on 88Glam 2.

"We just vibed out until we heard beats we were inclined to hop on," he says. "All of the songs we did with them, they made the beats on the spot."

The duo makes liberal use of Auto-Tune to color its vocals à la Travis Scott. Camino and Wise apply it live when they're tracking in the booth rather than after the fact, creating a feedback loop in which they're reacting to the bubbly sounding vocal treatment in real time. Used in this manner, Auto-Tune becomes an instrument unto itself.

But all the vocal effects and trippy music videos amount to surface-level stuff. The core of 88Glam is the relationship between Camino and Wise, two friends dedicated to pursuing high-level art together.

"I think what is interesting to listen to is that we both offer something different," Camino says. "The polarities of our music combined together create a dynamic duo, you know?"

88Glam. 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, at Floyd Miami, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 786-618-9447; floydmiami.com. Tickets cost $20.

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