Kweku Collins

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What was your first introduction to music?

What’s up everyone, my name is Kweku Collins, born and raised in Evanston. I’m currently 19.

Let’s start from the beginning. How was life like for you growing up?

Obviously, growing up as a kid you’re going to have your ups and downs, but for me, life was cool growing up. Evanston is a cool suburb. I also was very blessed to come from a happy loving family.

What was your first introduction to music?

Growing up I was always around music. My father is a musician. He is a percussionist. Drums always surrounded us in the house. The music that was played was world music, such as African and Latin music. Mickey Hart and other percussionists were always playing in the house.

With both of your parents being artists. Was there any thought of becoming something other than an artist as you grew up?

I actually had other careers I wanted to pursue. With Steve Irwin being one of my idols, I really wanted to be a zoologist. Also from ages 7-16 I really wanted to be a professional skateboarder.

-How supportive were they of you wanting to pursue music as a career?

My parents were both super supportive of my decision to pursue music as my career. It became clearer that I had a shot at making these dreams come true and they started to believe in me even more. Even before the music career, they were always very supportive of me and always looked to give me advice whenever I needed it. I’m very thankful for them.

When I hear your music, I tend to think of Kid Cudi. From the emotion of the production to the emotion of your lyrics. Who would you say are some of your biggest musical inspirations?

For me I’d say, Bob Marley, Kanye West, The Beatles, Tame Impala, Sade, and The Black Eyed Peas. My inspirations are very diverse and you can see that in my music as well.

How do you feel about Chicago’s hip-hop scene overall? Who are some of your favorites?

-Any artists you’re looking to collab with?

I think Chicago’s scene right now is awesome. There’s really something for everyone. If there’s not a niche for you, you make your own. I think that’s what’s so awesome about Chicago right now.

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My favorites in Chicago are Mick Jenkins, Chance The Rapper, Kanye West, Common, Leather Corduroys, Appleby, Kembe X, Lucki X, John Walt, Saba, Melo, and Squeaks. Shoutouts to Pivot.

I would love to collab with everyone on this list if I haven’t already.

Since your debut project “Wierdo” What have you looked to improve on most with your music?

Honestly since my first project I’ve looked to improve on everything. I’ve been focusing on my production and what I can do vocally. Also I’ve been creating more conceptually and creating deeper meaningful lyrics. I’m just always trying to keep moving upwards diagonally. I never want any two projects to sound the same.

A couple weeks back you dropped a single “Death of a Salesman”. This was a very deep song. Explain the meaning behind this track.

-Do you believe it’s important to address the current issues we are facing through your music?

DOAS is a song about being fed up. The song is about awareness, destruction and ultimately reconstruction. Being failed by a system created to ‘protect and serve’ the people with its jurisdiction is daily.

I believe it’s very important for me to address these situations in my songs. It’s not inherently the responsibly of an artist, but as an artist with having the voice to address real issues we face, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t.

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You just debuted a brand new song off the album called “Ego Killed Romance”. Why did you decide to drop this single 8 days before the album?

-How did the relationship with Jamila Woods begin?

I really just wanted to drop one more single. With this single, I wanted people to see the diversity of the project.

 -I’ve been a fan of Jamila for years. I was a fan of her before we even knew each other. We ended up meeting at YCA (Young Chicago Authors). I was doing an event and she was there. After that, she eventually signed to Closed Sessions. We then began to develop a relationship due to being label partners. I showed her the song and she really enjoyed it. She then went in the studio and killed her part.

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Let’s continue talking on relationships. You’re currently signed to Closed Sessions. How did this relationship begin? Also, what was it about CS that made you want to reach out to them to get signed?

How has it been working with Alex and the team here at CS?

I reached out to them via email. I think I sent the email with my project Worlds Away around January of last year. Within three days I got an email back from Alex saying that he really enjoyed the project. From there we began to talk back and forth. From there, he then brought me into the studio and we started to record some stuff. He then hit me up saying “We aren’t beating around the bush anymore, we want to sign you.” In March I then signed the actual contract and April 1st last year we officially announced it.

 -I had always known about them. I was a fan; I constantly followed them and the videos they put out. I also enjoyed the artists on the label. I felt like they were able to help me with things I couldn’t necessarily do on my own. I was “managing” myself, but I knew that I needed the help and guidance. I felt like I could’ve been a good fit to the team

 -It’s been great working with the team here. When I sent the email I never knew that the best-case scenario would work out for me. Things didn’t tend to work in my favor before, but this did. It’s everything I wanted and more. Nobody works harder than Alex (RTC). Mike is a genius with the mixing and mastering. Also the team here as a whole, Odd Couple, Boat House, these guys are all my brothers. Our relationship is now more than just a business relationship.

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At one point you were looking to get noticed for your music. Now you’re being noticed by MTV, Pitchfork, Stereogum, and other huge national blogs. How does it feel knowing that all of the late nights and hard work is starting to pay off?

It’s really gratifying. It feels awesome. This is the one thing in my life I can say I truly did this. I built this essentially all by myself. It’s also very motivating. There’s so much more work to be done. I’m nowhere close to where I want to be, but seeing the progression over this past year is amazing. I love knowing that this is only the beginning.

What’s the message you’re looking to spread with your music?

I’m really just trying to make my music a message of empathy for the people. I write about what I know and my experiences. It’s how I interpret the world. My main focus with my music is to help people. It doesn’t really matter who you are, what you do, or what you believe, having empathy for another person is so important. If you have empathy and respect for a person for just being them, then as a country and on a larger scale we can start having the conversations that can really breathe the results we need to actually change society.

Nat Love drops next week. Explain the meaning behind Nat Love

Back in high-school history class I was reading a book and the name Nat Love appeared. It’s spelled Nat, but pronounced Nate. He intrigued me and the name always resonated in my head. I just knew I always had to do something with the name Nat Love. Nat Love on a project though is conceptually a project about finding a place for you, or making a place for yourself. That was a struggle for me growing up. I was mixed and just a weird dude. I have different identities in life and I never knew where I fit in. That’s what this project is all about. Having different identities but realizing we are all the same person.

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What’s one piece of advice you believe every artist should be applying to his or her life?

The only advice I have for anyone is to literally just do you. I know, super cliché, but the legit truth.

If you were to pick one song and show it to the people who have never heard of you. What song would it be and why?

Damn. How about two songs haha. I’d say, then the two songs will be on my new project. The rain that wouldn’t save and ghost. These are two of my favorite song I’ve ever made. The rain that wouldn’t save represents everything I’ve gone through this last year in my life. It’s a very personal song for me.

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