WE-TV, ALLBK tackle Chicago drill music with new drama ‘Kold + Windy’

The series was shot in Atlanta masquerading as the Chi.

WE-TV has returned to scripted drama with a new series “Kold + Windy” about a female rap duo in Chicago focused on drill music. It has the gritty elements of Showtime’s “Power” with a bit of “The Chi” thrown in.

It was also shot in Atlanta, courtesy of Georgia’s generous tax credits, and features two Southern women in the key roles of Malika “Kold” Wise (Florida native Sh’Kia Augustin) and Renee “Windy” Johnson (Georgia native and Atlanta resident Nijah Brenea).

But the producers are Chicagoans and they tried their best to make Atlanta look as much like Chicago as possible on top of using actual B-roll from the city.

“They were able to pick certain pockets of Atlanta and make it look like Chicago,’ Augustin said in a recent Zoom interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The series, which debuted on WE-TV Jan. 5 and is available on the streaming service ALLBLK, opens with the two childhood best friends banking some success at the mic but not enough to walk away from their illegal means of generating income.

While Windy is entirely fine committing burglary with a gun, Kold is opting for less violent white-collar crimes like skimming money off ATMs and identity fraud.

Kold, who has lost custody of her son due to her dark past, wants to go legit and focus exclusively on the music.

“She is a representation of so many people,” Augustin said. “Malika wants love. She wants intimacy. She wants a family. But she is living a different life centered around criminal activity. I can humanize her on a deeper level by acknowledging she is doing things to just survive.”

Windy, however, said she needs to stir up beefs with rivals and steal stuff to maintain authenticity on the streets of Chicago.

“The basis of what many rappers rap about is what they’ve done, what they still do and what makes them at heart a gangster,” Brenea said. “It’s threatening to her that Malika is trying to get away from that. What are we going to rap about?”

“Kold + Windy” began airing coincidentally at the start of the Young Thug trial, where the big Atlanta rap star and others have been accused by the government of multiple gang-related charges.

“It shows you how rap culture can sometimes get you jammed up and get you in trouble,” Brenea said. “It’s crazy they’re coinciding.”

The prosecutors have also been citing Young Thug’s lyrics as evidence, a controversial tactic that is echoed in “Kold + Windy.”

“We’re incriminating ourselves in the music,” Brenea said, “which sucks because Malika is trying to get her son back. Windy is just saying, ‘Oh, it’s just music.’ But it isn’t just music.”

Windy keeps ratcheting up a rivalry with another female rapper in town both on social media and in their songs. Their style called drill music has some superficial similarities to Atlanta’s trap music but focuses more on violence than drugs and is far more aggressive in tone.

“I knew what a drill beat was, but I didn’t know the culture behind it going into this series,” Augustin said. “I don’t think I was listening to the lyrics.”

Brenea said this show “made me tune in to what they were saying, what makes drill drill, how raw it is. They are repping the streets, the block they’re from. This is very distinct.”

The actresses said they worked hard to get the accents right and learn to rap in a legitimate way.

Augustin watched Showtime’s “The Chi” as well as plenty of Chicago YouTubers. “I just wanted to hear how they talked, even if it was just about their cat or dog,” she said.

“I’ve been in Atlanta a long time and we say shawty,” Brenea said. “In Chicago, they say shorty. We had to do takes over because I’d say it wrong.”

This show is on basic cable so the writers were limited in terms of the curse words they could use, however arbitrary those limits may seem.

“We could only say the ‘s’ word two times per episode,” Brenea said. “We could not say the ‘f’ word. But we could say the ‘b’ word as much as we want.”

WHERE TO WATCH

“Kold + Windy,” 10 p.m. Thursdays on WE-TV, also available on ALLBLK streaming service