A native of Richmond, fourth-year College student Wayne Barnes embarked on a long and impressive journey beginning with only a curiosity for the strings of the violin in the sixth grade. Through friendships and mentors, Barnes’ love for music would evolve to him creating his own. His quick grasp on music production would set a well-known fan base on Grounds and accomplish unimaginable accolades, such as opening for Trippie Redd at John Paul Jones arena.
With the help of his cousin at the age of sixteen, Barnes — better known as 4C Wayve — would set aside his violin and find the potential of his voice, creating a beat and writing a song in a single day. Encouragement from his cousin set the foundation for Wayve publicly releasing songs. Despite his love for recording music, his intentions of attending post-secondary school were clear and obvious.
“I knew I wasn't gonna go straight to university,” Wayve said. “We couldn't really afford for [my mother] to pay. Our agreement was that I take two years of community college and then I could go for two years of university. The loans that I take out for university will be mine. And the money that I take out for community college, she'll pay for.”
After graduating from high school, Wayve attended John Tyler Community College. He hammered away the necessary requirements to transfer, and by the fall of 2019 he was enrolled at the University. Similar to many undergraduates, his arrival in uncharted territory was difficult at first. He found his footing through the help of student organizations on Grounds, performing at the Black Ball hosted by the Black Student Alliance and A Taste of the East hosted by the Ethiopian Eritrean Student Association. However, his spotlight would be cut short when a national emergency was declared regarding the COVID-19 disease.
After the pandemic hit, Wayve was forced to become a part-time student in order to take care of his family while his mother worked as a travel nurse. The temporary shift to being a part-time student would extend his time at the University. Luckily, during the pandemic, he formed friendships — all University students — that he still cherishes today. As he returned to being a full-time student, he never abandoned his circle of friends — a circle that even joins him on stage as he performs.
“They support me or show me love,” Wayve said. “All of them are on track to become lawyers, on track to become doctors, business people. I like surrounding myself with those people. It motivates me to become a better version of myself.”
One of the biggest sources of motivation for Wayve is his childhood best friend, Chumpy, who sadly passed away while in middle school. Wayve admired how the energy of Chumpy gravitated toward all his classmates and especially teammates, as he excelled in sports.
Wayve chose his stage name to begin with 4C — “For Chumpy” — paying homage to his departed friend, who wore the number four on his jerseys. While keeping the memory of his friend alive through his stage name, Wayve went on to create new friendships with University faculty and students to further develop his music career.
Despite not releasing any songs together, one University student Wayve has worked with is third-year College student Elie Bashkow.
“My thing as a producer is I want to work with people who I really like as people,” Bashkow said. “One of my favorite parts of working with Wayne is that it's always a really healthy, positive environment for everyone to be in — people feel safe taking creative risks.”
The common dilemma of pursuing both worlds — attempting to be a full-time student and artist — is always present for Wayve and Bashkow. Being a student artist often “takes away the ability to get a full college experience,” according to Bashkow. Since enrolling at the University, however, Wayve has had his eyes set on the same goal — getting his degree. For the Richmond native, it is not a matter of prioritizing one of the identities but maintaining a harmony between the two.
Associate Anthropology Prof. Lise Dobrin and Asst. Music Prof. A.D. Carson are two figures that encouraged both artistic and academic pursuits. Fortunately, during the interview with The Cavalier Daily, Wayve saw Dobrin, telling her the significance she had on his academics. He spoke of the compelling experience he had in her class that would lead to him changing his major from biology to anthropology. The conversation concluded with a warm comment by Wayve — “thank you for being you.”
Wayve also spoke highly of Carson, a mentor for the artist from the deep conversations over music and advice on his career. The two have done various independent studies, with Carson even providing guidance on the production of the Wayve’s 2020 album “Self Discovered.”
“Anytime I have a conversation with this man he makes me smarter,” Wayve said. “He’s been through the ropes and he has so much wisdom. He's a walking book. He's probably one of the smartest people I've ever met in my entire life.”
Wayve is clearly “grateful” for the resources and assistance at the University, returning the favor by providing musical entertainment to students at numerous events. The most recent of his endeavors was organized by the University Programs Council. Five University rappers presented a freestyle on the UPC’s Instagram creating a XXL Freshman Class — a reference to the hip-hop magazine that annually showcases up and coming artists. After receiving the most votes on social media, Wayve opened for an artist with multiple Billboard Hot 100 songs, Trippie Redd.
“It was the biggest experience as an artist I've had up to date,” Wayve said. “I feel like that was God giving me a taste of what's to come for me. It was literally just a blessing to have that opportunity and I feel like I made the most of it.”
As graduation approaches for Wayve, it is a “bittersweet” realization that wont take full effect until he leaves the University for good. Students will head off, making a name for themselves in the professional workforce, while the melodic rapper has already made his presence known on Grounds. Although Wayve does not despise working a white-collar job, he much prefers pursuing a career of focusing on his main love — music.
“If I don't have to work for someone for the rest of my life and do what I love to do, which is music, then that's what I want to do,” Wayve said.
While he hopes to get a chance to work in the big league cities — Atlanta, Los Angeles or New York City — Wayve is still grateful for his time in Charlottesville. Annual performances with EESA, BSA, and local events made him a crowd favorite. His engagement with established professors and popularity with underclassmen marked an impression on the University. Driven by manifestation and hard work, Wayve was able to make his aspiration become reality during his time at the University.
“If I'm gonna say one thing, it's just thank you U.Va. for welcoming me with open arms,” Wayve said. “Continue to push that type of energy going forward for the new students and the new generations that are following after us.”