Chris Barnett — professionally known as CB MIX — is a cornerstone of Chicago’s rap and drill music scene, having organically built a catalog with some of the most culturally defining artists in contemporary music such as Chance the Rapper, Juice WRLD, Kanye West, Smylez, Young Chop, and Chief Keef, among others.
In 2018, a year when hip-hop accounted for over 25% of all streamed music in the U.S., Chris contributed to songs that garnered nearly two billion of those plays. He co-produced Wiz Khalifa’s single “Hopeless Romantic” featuring Swae Lee, Juice WRLD’s single “Wasted” featuring Lil Uzi Vert, and the top 10 Kanye West and Lil Pump single “I Love It” — as well as Lil Pump’s “Esskeetit,” Pump and Desiigner’s “Overseas,” and Pump and XXXTENTACION’s global hit “Arms Around You” featuring Maluma and Swae Lee. Following his success with Pump on numerous hit singles, Chris made contributions to seven songs on his 2019 album Harverd Dropout.
In 2016, Chris landed a spot on fellow Chicago native Chance’s acclaimed Coloring Book for the song “Mixtape” featuring Young Thug and Lil Yachty. The following year, Coloring Book won the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album, becoming the first mixtape and streaming-only project to do so.
Both independent artists, the two have a relationship that predates Chance’s fame — having first met in the city’s famed Music Garage facility, where Chance frequented a rehearsal space and Chris operated a recording studio circa 2011.
Having worked with Keef on the 2015 song “Decline” alongside Lil Durk and frequent collaborator Young Chop, Chris began collaborating extensively with the rapper after unexpectedly being asked to help set up his home studio in 2016. They have since recorded multiple projects together, and their work has been instrumental in popularizing eight-bar verses as opposed to the 16-bar industry standard for rap music.
Although he has always been a musician, playing multiple instruments including piano and guitar, Chris began his professional career as a studio engineer. His background in audio engineering led Chris to open his own recording studio, Glass Tree Creative. Based in downtown Chicago, the studio is frequented by the likes of Chance, Vic Mensa, Juice WRLD, G Herbo, Desiigner, Lil Bibby, Tee Grizzley — and has become a creative hub for many projects including Juice WRLD’s “Hide” from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).
Photo: Angelo V. Margentina