I love and hate talented young people. I admire, no, fawn over the accomplishments and charming personalities of these seemingly normal seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen year olds with the enthusiasm of a middle-aged soccer mom. But at the same time, I remain envious of their achievements as a ferociously mediocre eighteen year old.
One of these accomplished young people I love and hate is Kweku Collins, a nineteen year old hip hop artist hailing from Evanston, Illinois. Collins is only a year older than I am and has not only been making music since 2014, but also has released and produced two albums to critical acclaim in the timeline of 2016-2017. And honestly, it’s amazing to see someone so similar in age creating a name for himself and furthermore, expressing his personal thoughts in such a creative, skillful, and relatable way; I admire and appreciate Kweku Collins’s music much more because of these facts.
I stumbled on to Collins’s music only last May as I was mindlessly scrolling through the new release tab of Spotify. His newest album, grey, had just been released at the time and as superficial as it sounds, the only reason I decided to listen to it was because I liked the look of the album cover. But, I am so glad that I did, as grey has become a consistent favorite.
You know what they say, effective white space use and first impressions matter.
While the last two artists I discussed in this blog (Vic Mensa and Kendrick Lamar) make music that is deeply rooted in expressing personal highs and lows and commenting on social and political issues, Kweku Collins’s music deals with more of Collins finding, experimenting, and expanding his voice. However different, there is something valuable and beautiful that comes from such a focus; Collins creates abstract, poetic, bedroomy, and melodic rap that settles around you softly like watercolor melting onto rice paper. I love and respect his music because it is so undeniably him and it’s important to find ways to artistically represent your true self.
As a fellow creative teenager with an affinity for words, I am also in search of my voice and hearing Collins doing the same in grey is really something special. My favorite songs in that album are “Lucky Ones,” “Aya,” and “Oasis2:Maps” because they are so aware, colorful, and comfortable almost as if they are statements of Collins having accepted his own individualism. Those songs, along with the entire album, form together to make a soothing but reflective half hour of music that deserves to be played late at night while driving.
I’ll admit: I haven’t really listened to Kweku Collins’s other music including his other album Nat Love, but I am so intrigued to listen to it all (as soon as I’m done playing grey every other day), as I know I will only get to know Collins’s true self more intimately. And that’s special.