You Can Call Midwxst a Rapper, a Hyperpop Artist, a Pop Artist, or an Alt Artist—As Long As You’re Listening

Midwxst's career started by making songs in his bedroom that blended the worlds of hyperpop and hip-hop. Now that his debut album is here, he's elevated in every way, making an album that defies categorization. In an interview with Complex, he talks about it all.

Photo by Xavier Luggage

Midwxst recently found himself inside a big fancy recording studio in Hollywood. 

In the room right next to him, Justin Bieber was working on music. And on the other side? Justin Timberlake.

“I'm like, bro, is this really happening right now?” Midwxst says, remembering the disbelief he felt when he walked past Timberlake in the studio’s kitchen.

Until that point, the Indiana artist recorded everything in his own room—he hadn’t even worked with a recording engineer before. Instead, he did everything himself, throwing himself into songs that gave fans a raw, unfiltered look into his mind.


Midwxst lists the artists who inspired him to be vulnerable in his music, including XXXTentacion, Juice WRLD, Lil Peep, Kanye West, and Tyler, the Creator. #midwxst #xxxtentacion #juicewrld #lilpeep #kanye #tylerthecreator

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Midwxst first blew up during the pandemic with catchy hits like “Trying” that blended the worlds of hyperpop and hip-hop. (“I was like the first hyperpop artist to rap, if that makes sense,” he says now.) From the beginning, it hasn’t been easy to neatly categorize his music into any specific genre. “I'm an artist at the end of the day,” he says, explaining that he’s OK with whatever fans want to call him. “I'm a hyperpop artist. I'm a rap artist. I'm a pop artist. I'm an alt artist. I'm cool with whatever.”

When he gained traction in 2021, COVID restrictions kept him from going to studios with his peers, so he found a community online, using Discord to make songs with other hyperpop artists around the world. This DIY mentality to music-making felt natural to Midwxst. After all, that’s how all of his favorite artists—XXXTentacion, Juice WRLD, Lil Peep, and Tyler, the Creator, to name a few—got their start. But when it came time to record his debut album, E3, he jumped at the opportunity to try something new and go to professional recording studios, working with the best in the business.

It paid off. E3 is a big step up for Midwxst in every way. From the opening track “Lost,” featuring vocals from Kanye’s Sunday Service Choir, to “Old Me,” which was co-produced by Charlie Heat and includes a goddamn saxophone solo, every song on the album is wildly ambitious. And in true Midwxst fashion, it touches several genres at once, blurring them all together into something new.

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E3 is held together by a loose storyline that Midwxst describes as “​​a beautiful fairy tale gone wrong,” and it’s punctuated with voice notes from his real-life family members. Midwxst, born Edgar Sarratt III, prioritizes family over everything. The name E3 is a nod to his status as the third Edgar in his family (after his father and grandfather) and his parents are so pivotal in his life that he laughs, “My mom and my dad are damn-near my managers.” On an early September afternoon in New York City, he tells me, “If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be so comfortable sitting here talking to you right now.”

If you spend any amount of time around Midwxst, you’ll be surprised to learn that he’s only 20 years old. He speaks with much more confidence and wisdom than most people his age, articulating exactly what his purpose is as an artist and how he hopes to inspire his fans. With a sneaky sense of humor and an overall positive outlook on life, he has a way of lighting up most rooms he walks into. (When I ask him if he has any recent obsessions, he goes on a hilarious rant about how cute otters are, and the room erupts in laughter.)

Midwxst has a lot to be excited about right now. With E3 out now, he caught up with Complex to discuss his come-up, his debut album, and what’s next. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.

Let's jump straight into it. What made you want to start making music?
I've been surrounded by music my whole life. My sister was into theater and musicals. My mom was into R&B and a lot of classical and traditional music. Then my dad was hip-hop to the max. He's the one who put me onto Kanye, Nas, Biggie, and so many people.

I actually started doing music as a joke, and then it turned into something that people told me I needed to take seriously. I was like, "Really? Are you sure?" Because it was really just something I did for fun. I actually got suspended for my first song. I made a diss track on a kid and it got me like two days in-school suspension. [Laughs.] I got told to take it down, but I just privated it. Everybody was like, "Yo, you need to keep doing whatever you're doing.” And that pushed me to be more expressive with music.

What was the moment you realized it was going to become your whole life?
During quarantine, when the whole hyperpop and digicore community was just becoming a thing and getting a label attached to it. Before that, I was just making songs online for the longest time, just dropping shit, because that's what I do in my pastime.

I wasn't able to talk about my emotions or what was going on in my life very well outside of music, so music was the only way I was able to express myself fully. I knew how to dress back then, and I had some outlets for myself, but music was the only outlet where I could really get out all the stuff that was pent up in my head and my heart. So I really leaned into it.

Just being online with my friends and making music literally created its own genre and its own sound. I realized the power of having a platform and knowing what to do with it, especially being a kid that can use my phone to blow a song up in a thousand ways. It was crazy to see the stuff that I was doing be able to impact other people. That was the first time I really could see it.

Why do you think your music connects with your fans so well?
I'm just honest. I'm not afraid to be like, "Yeah, I messed up." There's nothing wrong with that. I know how to phrase things that a lot of people will never say out loud, and will never admit, but they think it and they can relate to it. I've been in their position before and I've been in my head and I self-sabotage a lot. I get self-conscious about certain things. We're human. That's normal. A lot of people don't really express that, and they're always trying to conform into something that they aren't. But I'm just me. I don't have anything else attached to me besides my character and who I am.

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Who are some of the artists you listened to who gave you the confidence to be so vulnerable in your music?
Juice, X, and Peep, along with Kanye. Those four artists specifically taught me it was OK to be vulnerable, and they taught me it was OK to lean into the things that people might even use against you. Like, make the cons of your life a pro. They taught me it's OK to be yourself. 

The same thing with Tyler [The Creator], too. I can't sit here and not say Tyler, because when I heard Goblin for the first time, it was so twisted and different from everything I'd ever listened to. But I understood where he was going with the world and what he was trying to build, like the sound of it. He's never been boxed into anything, regardless if people wanted to call him something, or call him just a rapper. He's perceived as an artist. It's the same thing with all the people I just listed. They're all artists and they cross that boundary between being relatable and being themselves and having an identity.

I didn't have a lot of people I could talk about some of these things with, out loud and open, without anybody getting concerned about me. So I just turned to music and those people definitely had an impact on me, forming who I am, who Midwxst is, and who Edgar is as a whole.

Have you ever discussed something in your music, and then people in your life heard it and wanted to have serious conversations about it afterwards?
Yeah, that's literally exactly how "Trying" happened. I dropped it, and my parents had never heard me be that open and transparent about my mental state and how I was doing at that time. They sat me down and we had a conversation about it. They were like, "We never knew you felt this way." And I'm like, "Well, I do feel this way. I just put it in music to avoid the fact I'm having this conversation with y'all right now." [Laughs.] But at the same time, that allowed me to sit down and be transparent with my parents in a way I'd never been able to before, because that song got released. It's allowed me and my family to get closer.

For the longest, I shut off so many portions of myself and so many things that I didn't want people to be concerned about. I didn't want them to worry. I didn't want them to feel like they had to watch over me. So, by just talking about how I felt and expressing those things in my music, people were able to relate and understand. Like [the lyric in “Trying”]: "I might just succumb to my thoughts, I think I'm tired of trying." That's some real shit. Everybody has those thoughts and those feelings. At that time, that was the way for me to feel like me, and to actually let the world know that this is who I am and what I'm going through.


We asked Midwxst what his current obsession is, and he said... #otters 😂 #midwxst #animals

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Raw, honest music like that can change the lives of the people who are listening. Who is an artist who changed your life?
X[XXTentacion]. Easily. He was the first artist I saw blow up, going from SoundCloud, with scattered releases because he was in and out of jail... Like, before he even had the split dyed hair or any of that. Very rare X. Members Only-era X. That was the first time I saw a star get born in front of me off of being himself authentically, and seeing the way that he was able to fully 360 his career and the perception of who he was. Because obviously there's some bad with the good that he is as a person and an artist, and you can't sit here and deflect that or say that there isn't. But it's what he did with his platform, and what he did with the position he was in. Even being on house arrest and doing something for his community, and doing something for the people in his life to show people that it's OK to be you. It's OK to not lean into all these things that everybody else is doing. Those are the important things. Those are the things that showed me it's OK to be vulnerable, straight up. There was nobody else I could relate to as an artist that would sit there and say, "Yeah I fucked up," and admit those things. Maybe Tyler when he was trolling in the Odd Future days as a joke. [Laughs]. But seriously as an artist, I couldn't relate to anybody for real.

Then Juice was one of those people that was there, too. I'd say they're at an equal level. Both of them have changed my life. Bro, when "All Girls Are The Same" came out, I remember listening to it as soon as it dropped, and then being like, "This is the one that's gonna make him go." Because I was early on Juice, too. When he dropped "On My Mind," he was working OD with Internet Money on SoundCloud. That's when I found him, so I saw that meteoric rise in real-time. I remember when he died. I went downstairs, crying to my parents. Same with X, Peep, and Juice. But X and Juice were just those artists for me that was like, dang, it felt like I had somebody that I saw parts of myself in. And now they aren't here. But it also made me want to step up and be somebody that people can relate to and look up to, like, "He's himself and he wants nothing more than to help the people around him."

What do you stand for as an artist? What do you want to represent for people?
I just want kids—specifically Black kids and kids that look like me, who get picked on in school for wearing whatever they want to wear or looking different or being themselves and having an identity early on—I want them to understand that they can do whatever they want. It doesn't matter what you want to do as a person, you can do it, especially if you're able to sit here and express yourself and be yourself unapologetically at a young age. It takes time to do that, and you're a lot more mature as a person if you're able to sit here, acknowledge your mistakes, talk about things that make you uncomfortable, and create a discourse. It's going to make you feel weird, but you're having that conversation. You're talking about it. I think that's 100% more mature than constantly reinforcing all these toxic masculine habits and all these things that people identify with being a Black male, or just a man as a whole, or just a person. Those things don't matter. They're all just things that are created to constrict creative people. Every creative person throughout history has had something wrong with them—if it was a mental thing, a physical thing, or something that they were going through... There were creative geniuses who had flaws, who had things that they weren't proud of, and things that people would never let them live down. But that doesn't take away from the fact that they're creative geniuses. I want kids to understand that that's what matters. That's what I stand for. Like, bruh, be you. There's nothing wrong with being you. There's nothing wrong with living your truth. You don't have to do what everybody else is doing. Just do what makes you happy and what you think is going to make an impact, and that's all that matters.

When you first blew up, you were very closely associated with the hyperpop scene, and you put a hip-hop spin on it...
I was like the first hyperpop artist to rap, if that makes sense.

Things move quickly, and a lot has changed for hyperpop already. How would you describe the hyperpop scene right now in 2023?
It's like a diaspora right now. It came from this small community of people making whatever the fuck we wanted to make. Then it blew up, and so many people started to make that sound, so the quantity outweighed the quality of the music. It got mad blown out, and then everybody was like, "Oof." You didn't have to distance yourself from it, but you kind of wanted to at a point. Because it's like, dang, this community kind of got taken over by people who are reducing it to something that it isn't, and trying to say that it's hyperpop. But the people who were actually making hyperpop first are trying to tell y'all what it is. But y'all are like, "No, it's this." It gets frustrating.

The thing is, so many people are still stuck on that time period and the sound. But the funny thing is, if you take a step away from that soundscape, then immediately everybody's like, "Wait, no, you should go back to the hyperpop stuff." Then everything you release gets taken with a grain of salt, because it isn't the hyper pop stuff. As a creative, you're like, "How can I sit here and tell them that y'all are the ones who are calling this hyperpop?" This is really just music, and that's what it's always been.

I think the scene is really cool and there are really cool people coming out, like Cybertrash, Juno, and a couple other people. But there isn't as much unity anymore. I can list four collectives that were active in the scene, and like three of those aren't even around anymore. Half of the people that were making music with us aren't even making it anymore, or they ducked off and changed their name. That's how the community turned out, because of how everything rolled out after the hyperpop playlist and the digicore label became a thing. But at the same time, it's allowed each of us to grow individually and try different things.

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What is your relationship with the hyperpop scene currently? Obviously that's where you came from, but you also make other kinds of music, too. What do you think when people call you a "hyperpop artist"? 
I'm just kind of like, "cool." I'm not going to sit here and say, "No I'm not," because I am. I'm an artist at the end of the day. I'm a hyperpop artist. I'm a rap artist. I'm a pop artist. I'm an alt artist. I'm cool with whatever. Some people call me a rapper, and that's cool because I can spit. Some people call me an artist because they see me paying attention to the details, sonically and visually. Some people call me a hyperpop artist because I made some fire ass hyperpop songs. I'm cool with that. When it comes down to putting a label on everybody, though, certain people may not be cool with that. Because all of a sudden their whole sound is getting discredited because it isn't in this niche soundscape that y'all are used to them making. And I think that's dumb. Like, how are you gonna be unsatisfied with the artist creating what they want to create?

How would you describe your generation of musicians and creators? What makes you guys stand out from those who came before?
We care for the small things, like Ash, aldn, myself, so many of us. And we all bounce ideas off each other. We're very cooperative. That's a big reason why 2021 was such a big year for all of us. We all worked with one another. You wouldn't see one name without seeing another. And you wouldn't see a name without seeing the person that shot the video. A perfect example is Overcast. When Brakence's first video dropped on there, everybody lost their minds. Then all of a sudden that became a cultural hub for what the scene was at the time. Those videos meant so much to us. It's crazy to think about that. The community was so tight-knit, and we never really let anybody tell us what we could do and couldn't do. We just kind of did it.

I'm interested in the way you guys all used Discord to build a community and make music together. Can you break down how you guys use it?
Yeah, I’ll break it down. So, you would create a private server... Let's say it's 2021, peak pandemic, and this is a server with me, glaive, Curtains, and blackwinterwells. It's blackwinterwells' server so they send an invite to all the other friends who want to join. Then everyone joins the server, and you jump into a voice chat with them. You start sharing your screen, showing what you're working on, and someone's like, "OK, what if you do this? Do you want to add drums on it?" And then all of a sudden this whole collaborative process is started, and everybody is working and bouncing ideas off of one another.

In these servers, we'd split it up, like, "OK, you go after this person. This person goes after this person. Write your verse based off of this person's verse." We would all go in separate voice channels. There would be like four people in one and five people in another, all making a song. And that's what Discord is. That's what it became for us. When you think of Discord, you think of a place to lounge and chill with friends and game on. But we utilized it and literally turned it into a studio. And that's the coolest part about the scene.

It's because we didn't have anything else. We couldn't go to the studio. We couldn't just book time in the studio and slide to it. Everything was shut down [because of the pandemic].

You’ve been putting out music for a while, but obviously a debut album is a big deal. What was your goal for E3? What did you want to accomplish?
I wanted to create a universe. The concept of this album has existed since I was 17 years old. I've had the idea of making an album about myself and what I've been going through, but I didn't expect it would come so soon, if I'm being honest. At the same time, though, everything told me that right now is the time I need to make this, because I was going through a lot of stuff mentally and emotionally throughout the entire making of this project. Everybody that was working on this—Drew, Sophie, Zuko—everybody can attest to the emotional distress I was in. This album became so much more than just music for me. I dealt with things that I never talk about ever in my life. I talked about things—intrusive thoughts and things that were going on in my life—that I never had enough courage to have a conversation about. But it felt so right this time around.

This was the perfect time to show the world who I am, and get a peek into who Edgar is. Each one of these songs, you can identify as something that is unique to me. It sounds like me, and that's the thing that I care about the most. I'm excited to get it out, because I've never sat on music for this long, and I am a very big person on teasing and previewing music. So I was sitting here like, "Fuck, man." It's rough because I wanted to show it so much, but that's the beauty of it: taking people by surprise and letting the music speak for itself.

Would you say there's a theme or a storyline to the album?
Yeah. E3 is like a beautiful fairy tale gone wrong. Imagine what your preconceptions are of what being in love is, and then seeing it slowly get warped track over track over track. You see the reality of what that relationship was, and how you were acting during the relationship, through somebody else's perspective. All of these little stories add up and create a universe in a sense. It's me and my search for what true love is.

I like how you used voice notes from your real family throughout the album. Why did you want to do that?
The album is a story, and when you think of stories, you think of narration. Look at how Metro Boomin had his album recently. That shit felt like a movie, dog. It made the album an experience. It made it better and bigger. And my family is such a vital part of me. Without my family, I wouldn't be the person I am. I wouldn't be as comfortable talking to y'all right now. Straight up. They're a pivotal part of my life, and I wouldn't be who I am without them. My mom and my dad are damn-near my manager. That's a relationship that I'm very blessed to have. I wanted to show people who might not have that type of connection. Man, I hope my grandma's voice note on the end of "Ready For You" is gonna make somebody who lost their grandparent feel warmth in their heart. People can relate to the music more than if it was just empty. This is something that's important to me, and it's a creative way to express it throughout the album.

I know you recorded this album in a big studio, which was new for you. What was that experience like?
Bro, bro, bro! It was crazy. Dominic Fike recorded some of his songs from Sunburn there. And both Justins were there [at the same time as me]. Justin Bieber was in Studio A, Justin Timberlake was in Studio B, and we were in Studio C. Bro, I just walked out of the bathroom and Justin Timberlake's standing in this little kitchen area in Conway [Recording Studios]. I'm like, "Oh, it's Justin Timberlake." I just walk out, like, "Bro, did that really just happen?" It was crazy just seeing how many albums got recorded in those rooms. Mac Miller recorded Swimming in some of those rooms. Some of Cherry Bomb got recorded there. "Neon Guts" got made there. There are some crazy songs that have been made there. As a music nerd and as somebody who cares for music deeply, I was in there tweaking out. It just added to how much this music meant to me, because it was being created in such a cool space.

It was such a unique experience for me. This is the first time I'm recording with an engineer. This is the first time I'm having somebody help me behind the mic. Like, having somebody else touch my voice is weird to me, because I've done it myself up until this point. I literally just got it mixed and mastered, but I've tracked every demo and recorded every song on my laptop or on my desktop. So this is new territory for me. Going into it, I was really skeptical, but I ended up feeling so comfortable with this. Big ups to Drew Drucker and Sophie Gray for helping me with that, because without them, I wouldn't have been able to be as comfortable in these spaces. They were such pivotal people in making that become a thing, so shout out to them.

You got some cool guest vocals on this album, too.
Yeah, Sunday Service is on the intro, Denzel Curry is on "s.f.b.," and then ericdoa is on the outro, doing some funny radio stuff. I wanted to have them slotted in there. I think [unlisted features] are a cool part of albums. Part of the reason why Call Me If You Get Lost is such a good album is because when it first came out, you didn't know who was about to come on next with a verse. Then you're like, "Yo!" Same thing with Utopia.

How did you get the Sunday Service Choir on here?
My engineer Drew actually mixed Jesus Is King by Kanye and got a Grammy. I was already tweaking out about that when I first met him. But he literally just reached out to them and showed them songs from the demo. They were down. And then the next day, some of them came, and it was one of the [best] experiences of my life. I'm sitting here, somebody who loves Ye's music, with his choir singing a chorus that me and my friends wrote. That's crazy to me. Doing that at 19, before I could even go to the club for real? That's so cool to me. It sent a chill through my body. That's definitely one of those moments... Like, I've got to get accustomed to this, because I like being in these rooms and having these big sessions. That's how the best music gets made.

I feel like you leveled up in every way on this album. What is something you think you got better at, musically?
My structuring and the production. Across all music I've released, I haven't felt as proud about my writing, my hooks, my pre's, and my posts. Before I went into this album, I didn't even really know what that was. I was just making songs and structuring whatever I thought was right to my ear. This is the first album where I'm going through with intent in each and every word I'm saying. I'm not just rapping off top for filler, keeping it in because it flows well. I'm going in and doing those meticulous things that I need to do in order to make the song as relatable and as "me" as possible. That's the stuff that really took a whole new step up. And just the sounds. Bro, there are so many live instruments on here. It's crazy. I've never had this much live instrumentation on an album of mine. There's a violin. You've got a saxophone. You've got a grand piano. There's a choir. It's such a step outside of what I've ever done. It's the most ambitious I've ever been sonically.

You mentioned earlier that you've always been able to dress. How does fashion fit into your artistry?
Oh, it's a big thing for me. If done right, fashion can be such a pivotal thing that people will remember for the rest of their lives. Look at Michael Jackson's outfit for “Thriller.” That is one of the most iconic outfits to this day. When you think of Michael Jackson, you think of him wearing that, or when he has the fedora on with his bedazzled glove.

I wanted to equate each feeling [on the album] with an outfit that matches that vibe. In the "Warning" video, the colors I'm wearing match how the song sounds. If you listen to the music and you see what I'm wearing, you're like, "OK, that makes sense." That's another way I express myself. Early on, that was the only way I really could express myself. Before I had music, I was wearing Polo button-ups and khakis... I was mad inspired by Chief Keef wearing all those Polos and Ralph Lauren and all of these things that were cool to me. I ended up being comfortable wearing those things when kids were still wearing like neon Nike Elite socks, bro. Jesus Christ. [Laughs.] Back then, I was wearing Polo, I was wearing Supreme. I had my stuff handled. And I always got picked on for that. But regardless of what y'all say, none of y'all are getting as fly as me, straight up. I was the flyest at my school. Had to be.

How would you describe your personal style?
I literally just wanted to dress like a skater growing up. Anybody from Real Skateboards at the time, I was looking at like, yo, that's the coolest shit ever. And I was trying to wear the big baggy DCs and all of those things. But I never did. The things that I was into were like... I copped a GOLF piece here and there. A Supreme piece. I have this old GOLF Wang tee from when Tyler was still using the Tron Cat logo with the upside down cross on its head. That's like Wolf era. Those were the things I thought were mad cool. I had this pink cheetah print GOLF tee, which was one of those pieces that made me get into fashion a lot more. Around eighth grade or freshman year is when I started to get Supreme and all of those things. And Undercover and all of these Japanese brands. And some small underground brands. I hadn't been tapped in before that. I'd always known about them, but I'd never done any digging. The only thing that I did digging on was like BAPE, because of Nigo. And Nigo was the coolest guy ever to me.

Now, being an artist, I feel like you can put on wild shit that no one else could pull off...
Bro. I could throw a horrible ass outfit on with them Astro Boy boots on and people would be like, "Yo, he's cooking. Let him cook." Like, no. Don't let me cook. Be so for real. I'm about to burn that toast. Why would y'all let me wear that? That's the one thing I dislike now. People who don't know how to dress be thinking that they got that shit on, thinking that they flee just because what they're wearing is expensive. It's cool if you have like a $10,000 whatever. But if you're over here and you're dressing like Frankenstein and you don't know how to style yourself, or you don't know how to dress at all, you shouldn't be bragging or acting like you're putting that shit on. You are not. You're putting that shit off. [Laughs.]

What's your biggest fashion regret?
Ooh, definitely khakis. I wore these big, baggy ass khakis in middle school. They were fire to me at the time. Oof. But no, it wasn't a good look. I thought they were so cool because they were vintage, but they were like a size 36 on a kid who is a 30 waist at best. I literally looked like Soulja Boy walking around the hallways.

OK, we've talked about music and we've talked about fashion. Is there anything else you've been obsessed about recently? Or something you've gone on an internet deep dive about?
I'm not going to lie... otters. I fuck with otters so heavy, bro. They're such a cute, innocent little being of happiness. And I love it. I love it so much. They showed up on my explore feed on Instagram. I was like damn, that animal's cute as hell, and then I went to the account. I just couldn't stop swiping, bro. I just couldn't. I'm sorry. I'm telling you, if I pull my phone out right now, there's going to be an otter on that screen. [Laughs.]

What's the most important thing you want fans to know about you right now?
The most important thing to know about me? I'm a nice person. I think so. If you see me on the street, give me a hug, man. I'll probably hug you back.

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