Kweku Collins sets stage for aspiring Chicago rappers


Courtesy of Kweku Collins

Kweku Collins will release his first studio album Nat Love on April 8.

By Arts & Culture Reporter

Most 18-year-olds do not choose a career path right after high school. Some go to college or start working, but rapper Kweku Collins signed to independent Chicago hip-hop label Closed Sessions when he was a senior at Evanston Township High School, launching his music career.

Now 19, Collins, whose father is also a musician, has performed at high-profile events like “Chi-Town Rising,” as well as on shows like “Windy City LIVE.” He is set to release his first studio album, Nat Love, on April 8.

The Chronicle spoke with Collins about his introduction to rap, his influences and missing out on college to follow his dreams.


THE CHRONICLE: When did you become interested in music?

KWEKU COLLINS: Since the time I was born, I was surrounded by music, mostly percussion because of my father but as I got older, I was exposed to more hip-hop and that took hold. Eventually I started writing poems and songs and tried to make beats on Garage Band. It was [my] freshman year of high school, so five years ago, [that] I started actually making raps.

How would you describe your sound?

It’s always changing, and I like it that way. I don’t want to be pigeonholed, so I make music that goes directly against that. As far as lyrics, a lot of it’s really reflective. I only want to speak on things I really know about. I’m not going to talk out of my ass. I take that s–t really serious. So I only want to talk about things I really know about and that I have a perspective on and an opinion I think could benefit other people if it’s compatible.

Are your songs going to discuss your coming-of-age experience?

Until I’m grown fully, everything I put out will be a page or a chapter or an installment in this continuous coming-of-age story. Yeah, it has elements of lost love or “I f—-d up,” but it’s more evolved [and] it’s looking at it from a different perspective.

Why did you choose to pursue music instead of college?

I was miserable in high school. I don’t get down like that [academically]. I was originally going to go to college. I was accepted into Columbia, and my “career” took off in the winter of 2014. It was around that time when me and my parents started having the discussion of like, “OK, this looks like it [Collins’ career] could be gaining some momentum. Maybe this could happen. Maybe this is possible to at least take a year off school and see where it goes.” After a few months of talking to Closed Sessions, [because] really signing there was really the cherry on top,  it was like, I’m definitely not going to college. All of those things coupled with my love for music all played a factor in it. Also I’ve been saying since freshman year if music works, I’m not going to college. All of my friends were like, “Bro, that’s a dumb idea, you gotta have a plan, it might not happen.”

When did Closed Sessions sign you?

I signed the contract in early March 2015. I  sent them my 2015 EP, Worlds Away, and I was like, “Yo, this is the music I make, this is my description of it; f–k with me, or don’t. I’m cool either way.” And they hit me back  three days later telling me to come down to the office and that they want to meet me. So I met with them a few times, went to the studio, we recorded some s–t and eventually I got a text from Alex [Fruchter] one day that said, “We don’t really want to beat around the bush anymore, we want to sign you, let’s do it.”

What can listeners expect from your first studio album?

I don’t think there’s a theme, more of a sonic adventure. The songs might not be cohesive content-wise, but I’m trying to create an experience that can be played separately, like, if the s–t goes, it goes, no matter where you play it. But also something that fits into this greater story you can look into for an hour, just zone out and be taken somewhere.