The genesis of rising Hip-Hop/Pop duo, XUITCASECITY (pronounced Suitcase City), was anything but a sure bet. Mike Gomes grew up in Safety Harbor, Florida, about 20 miles west of Tampa. A singer of Italian and French Canadian heritage, he got his first guitar when he was 15. By 17, though, Mike decided to incorporate singing into his act. Since he didn’t know any producers, he taught himself how to produce his own work. As he developed his musical chops, Mike gravitated toward the work of indietronica acts such as Passion Pit. Concurrently, budding African-American rapper, Cam Young, was growing up in the Tampa area. He and his family had relocated to Florida from New Jersey when Cam was 7, and his father brought his affinity for New York hip-hop with him, exposing his son to the work of The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Jay Z and Big L. His mother, on the other hand, preferred the work of Michael Jackson and Prince — hence Cam’s interest in and proficiency as a rapper and a singer.
A mutual Facebook friend provided Cam with a connection to Mike, who started receiving tracks from Cam via messenger in 2012. Mike didn’t listen to Cam’s work initially, though. “A month or two after he sent the first track, he sent another one,” Mike recalls. “Usually people don’t follow up and he did. So I gave it a listen. And it turns out it was the whole vibe I was on. His style of music was combining rap and indie music. That was a big turn on for me music-wise.”
While Mike was putting the finishing on his song “Traffic Light,” he sent it to Cam, who added vocals to it. They then worked on “Beautiful Day” from scratch, marking the first song they did together from the ground up. The pair continued working together, but went on hiatus in late 2012 when Mike left for California and Cam relocated to Virginia. Shortly after they both returned to the Tampa area in 2015, Mike reconnected with Cam and they decided to form XUITCASECITY, a nod to the transient area of Tampa where Cam once lived. “The last four years of our lives have been filled with a lot of uncertainty,” Cam explains. “Not being sure of where to go, what we’re doing, where we are and applying it to the music, what our sound is. We lived in three or four different cities over the last four years. There was just a lot of uncertainty.”
That uncertainty led to some issues. Even though the pair had a long history, it took them a while to gel creatively. “It started off a little shaky because we didn’t really know sonically what we wanted to do, how we wanted to sound,” Cam explains. “So this was just us figuring out our sound. Mike wanted to do more poppy sounding songs, but I wanted to stay more in the hip-hop lane. We went back and forth until we made this song together called ‘Late Night.’ That was the first song we did together that fits in the lane we’re in right now.”
By the top of 2016, XUITCASECITY had found its musical groove and settled into a distinctive creative lane. “We kinda just wanted to cater to all forms of listeners, which is super hard to do,” Mike reveals. “When people hear something that is familiar to them, it brings back that good feeling. That’s what we hope to capture in our music.” That artistic range was showcased on the duo’s Indxgo EP, a seven-track collection XUITCASECITY put on SoundCloud in February 2016. A month later, one of their future managers was so impressed by their project that he reached out to Mike and Cam. Excited by the momentum they had created, the duo moved to New York in July 2016 to focus on breaking into the music industry.
XUITCASECITY had a future hit in its arsenal with “Bout You.” Produced by Giovanni Sound, the track has a memorable blend of commercial minded sonics and crooning, as well imaginative, hard-hitting raps from Cam. “It was just automatically one of those songs you hear and feel,” Cam details. “It’s about wanting to take another dude’s girl and basically telling a chick I’m way flyer than your man.” “It’s about swagging,” Mike adds. “Being able to do things that your average man wouldn’t be able to do. You wanna show off, have the most bling in the room, take a private jet to wherever you want.” Thanks in part to “Bout You,” it didn’t take long for XUITCASECITY to land a recording contract. Entertainment One, home to such A-list talent as The Game and DJ Drama, eagerly welcomed XUITCASECITY to its roster. “They were the one label we met with that was just totally interested from the jump,” Cam says. Adds Mike: “Everybody over there just seemed very genuine, very organic, like they were gonna help us build it into what we think it can be. That set the tone for us.”
As XUITCASECITY promotes “Bout You” and works on its forthcoming album, it has its sights set on significant goals, both musically and beyond. Cam says, “I want to be able to impact a wide group of people, from young teenagers to young adults. I also think us being a black kid and a white kid from two different backgrounds shows how people can come together instead of fighting with each other.”