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When Kweku (Kway-Koo) Collins first grabbed the microphone, he could not help but smile. He stared into a familiar crowd of old high schools friends, former schoolteachers, his parents, and various mentors, all of them fans and supporters. The audience listened to music by the Evanston native at a sold-out concert at Evanston Space, 1245 Chicago Ave., on Nov. 25.
The 21-year-old rapper, producer, and songwriter was a part of Red Bull Sound Select’s 30 Days in Chicago, a November-long festival that celebrated Chicago area music. The festival featured performances by emerging Chicago area artists and prominent hip-hop entertainers like Migos and Young Thug; more than 70 artists played shows at music venues throughout the city.
A line stretched out of the door as security cleared concertgoers to enter the small concert hall. The building that houses both Evanston Space and Union Pizzeria was buzzing on this Saturday night. Artists Trapo from Madison, Wis., and Kamau of Washington, D.C., preceded Mr. Collins’ performance. Audience members danced, sang-along, and drank Red Bull-sponsored beverages to music all night long.
After his time at Evanston Township High School, Mr. Collins became involved in Chicago’s indie rap scene. He eventually joined Closed Sessions, a Chicago-based record label. In 2015, he released his debut Extended Play album, “Say It Here While It’s Safe.” In 2016, Mr. Collins followed his first project with an LP, “Nat Love,” which garnered attention from publications like Billboard, Chicago Reader, and more. His most recent release was a nine-track project called Grey, which is available on popular digital retailers like iTunes, Spotify, and more. Mr. Collins has toured across the United States and Europe, and in 2017 performed at large festivals Lollapalooza Chicago and South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.
As his hour-long set came to an end, Mr. Collins thanked all the audience members for attending his performance. The DJ continued to play popular songs as concertgoers stepped into the cold November air. Mr. Collins’ homecoming had been met with a sold-out show, a success for the up-and-coming Evanston artist.