In 2017, Toronto-based duo 88GLAM dropped their sleeper hit “Bali” with fellow Torontonian Nav, following their already successful introductory track “12” featuring The Weeknd. The former racked up close to 14 million YouTube streams, a clear indicator that their combination of hip-hop mixed with soulful trap sensibilities was a much needed addition to the burgeoning new music landscape.
Comprised of members Derek Wise and 88 Camino, the group quickly rose to collective fame, as their debut eponymous mixtape was met with critical acclaim. Now, as the XO Records signees drop their debut album 88GLAM 2, they continue to evolve with playfully poignant music.
Toronto is a small city when it comes to talent finding each other. While both Wise and Camino were making music for many years and friends for about six, their decision to work together was somewhat inevitable. “It was just genuine vibing,” Camino recalls. “With being friends and making music, joining our forces just made so much sense.” Previous collaborations showed there was proven chemistry between the two, but when 88GLAM came to the surface, the melding of sounds was something special. Then two songs arrived that changed it all.
The moody “12” was equal parts dark and smooth, while “Bali” harbored more of a low-key party vibe. Both “12” and “Bali” showcased different angles of the group’s style, though “Bali” surprisingly took off and introduced the world to what would be the shape of things to come. “After ‘Bali’ came out, it was crazy,” Derek recalls. “It really put the scope on what we were doing. We really had no idea what it would become.”
“No idea,” Camino adds. “Yeah, ’Bali’ was definitely more fun, but ‘12’ was more indicative of 88GLAM'S vibe.” Their self-titled mixtape arrived in November of 2017, but was reloaded by April 2018, following a deal with XO Records, after being signed by longtime friend The Weeknd (Derek was previously managed by XO). The group spent months in the studio perfecting their combined sound while simultaneously looking for new ways to elevate. The result is 88GLAM 2, a work that not only continues to bring what we’ve come to know and love about the group, but adding new elements that can only be described as that 88GLAM sound.
88GLAM 2 raises the stakes, as the pair are more comfortable in their collaborative skin and take their musical experimentation to new heights. “I think the one word to really describe this project is dynamic,” Camino explains. “There’s nothing really to encapsulate it, but that word. It’s all over the place but with a grounding element that’s still 88GLAM. They’ll still catch a similar vibe from our 88GLAM mixtape, but now we are experimenting with our sounds and even ranges.”
The first single “Lil Boat” is cinematic in production, but carries lyrics that are both catchy and memorable, taking you on a journey of two artists on the rise. “It’s epic and playful at the same time,” says Derek. Other songs like “It’s A Flex,” bring the worlds of mainstream and underground together. “We listen to music faithfully, including a lot of underground artists,” Derek explains, “So with [“It’s A Flex”] we didn’t focus on making a hit, but just a quality, saucy, niche record that still has mainstream appeal.”
Then there’s the woozy “Racks,” where the smooth soundscape is destined for behind the wheel. “That’s a ‘late night drive’ banger, where you don’t really know where the night is going,” Camino says. Meanwhile “Kitchen Witch” kicks things up a notch. “It’s a non-stop loop of fun shit,” Derek adds.
Each song intricately fits into place, making 88GLAM's debut album a well-rounded product of what happens when two local legends in the making unite to make magic happen and evolve together from that point on. Once 88GLAM 2 hits the streets, there’s much more to come. “After this, people can expect us to release music at a much faster pace,” expresses Drew. “Now we can really focus on music solely, having our label support and a solid foundation.”
However, one thing remains the same when it comes to what 88GLAM delivers and will continue to bring to fans. “We’re just making music that we like,” Derek says with sincerity. “We’re not out to make radio hits, but just quality songs.” Camino seals the mission: “We want people to just listen and say, ‘This is fuckin’ sick.’”