It’s no secret at this point in the year who one of the most exciting break out stars to emerge from Chicago is. Kweku Collins, our May cover artist, has taken the year by storm and cashed in a big win with the release of his debut full-length project, Nat Love, which has gone on to stake his name as one to watch for sometime, gaining some big-time co-signs from the likes of Pitchfork, Stereogum and what seems like a huge cross-section of blogs and websites that make up critical review in 2016. Continuing to progress through a year that has seen him rise by leaps and bounds, Collins stopped by Peter Rosenberg’s studio between a pair of trips out to New York City over the past week.
Sitting down with the legendary radio host, Collins offered up some of his story, much of which you can catch above in our cover story. Touching on the segregation of Evanston, his own musical influences inspired by his father’s passion for sound and his journey to sitting across the well-worn desk from one of hip-hop Journalism’s biggest names.
Part of the conversation dipped into the situation that Collins finds himself today. To put it in Rosenberg’s words: “black Twitter may not have found you yet.” The statement made for a bit of an awkward moment for the interview, but brings up an interesting peek into precisely where the 19-year-old rapper is at this point in his career. With his debut under his belt and the necessary digital-based accolades to boot, Collins stands as a 21st Century act on the rise. To go back to Rosenberg though, he is still lacking for widespread notoriety bestowed on fellow Chicago acts, his social media numbers are still relatively tame. While we still aren’t using Twitter followers to dictate an artist’s career, the host has a bit of a point, Collins’ isn’t quite the breakthrough media darling of say, a Chance The Rapper.
The importance of what the young artist is doing though was reflected in how he responded to the idea of a social media presence. Whereas many proud Millenials may have made boastful assurances of legions of future followers, Collins instead pointed to the music. Explaining that he leans on his work to speak for him, eschewing the tropes of many of his peers, many of whom are often hyper-focused on play counts and follower numbers. As he took yet another step forward in what’s so far been an exciting journey, Kweku Collins continued to embody an artist the whole city can be proud of.