The Chicago Reader Says Why? Records Makes ‘Compelling And Idiosyncratic Hip-Hop’


Together Davis, Malci, Joshua Virtue, and Ruby Watson make up Chicago’s own rap crew Why? Records. The group started when the four got together in the summer of 2018 to start their brand-new label.

Davis himself grew up on hip-hop. He says his mother used to babysit for Common. He received his BFA in creative writing from Columbia College and even spearheaded a literary magazine, but he didn’t start rapping until 2018. Davis attended rapper Milo’s sold-out show at The Hideout, which re-sparked his passion for the genre.

Malci began making music after graduating from college. He found inspiration from the unusual time signatures of Thundercat and Flying Lotus. Before making music, Malci was reading his poetry in underground performance spaces.

Virtue began making music nearly ten years ago with fellow musician Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. His band put out a song which was eventually heard by Spencer Tweedy, who invited the group to his father’s (Wilco) apartment.

Ruby Watson grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. He moved to Chicago and began going to Columbia for audio design and production. Watson and Virtue met at a house party, where they bonded over rap.

Virtue said working with the rest of the crew feels easy. “They have the same work ethic as me and the same standard for the quality of the sound that we make, and making something that’s equally accessible and completely unique,” he said.

Read an interview with the crew from The Chicago Reader‘s Leor Galil and catch Why? Records Showcase at The Hideout on June 30th.