Ahead of South By Southwest, Stereogum is highlighting a handful of our Band To Watch alumni who have busy schedules at this year’s festival. If you’re in Austin this week, now’s your chance to actually watch some Bands To Watch.
Kweku Collins grew up right outside of Chicago in Evanston, IL, which means that he has a lot of connections with the city’s blossoming strain of soulful and inspirational rap and R&B — for instance, Jamila Woods and Chance The Rapper’s brother Taylor Bennett both feature on his debut Nat Love — but he still feels and sounds like an outsider of sorts. In our interview with him, he distanced himself from the city, adamant that he was pursuing his own path. And hearing his influences come through in his music — Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, but also Metallica and Black Sabbath and Tame Impala — you can sense where he diverges with those in his close proximity. Nat Love is a fascinating compendium of sounds, anesthetized R&B and intimate bedroom scratchings wrapped around breathlessly smooth revelations.
Collins is releasing a new EP, grey, later this year, and a few weeks ago we got its lead single, “International Business Trip.” It’s razor-sharp and globetrotting, inspired by his travels in light of the musician’s newfound success. If it’s any indication of what’s to come, Collins has honed his pop tendencies into something more radio-friendly and intoxicating, which is bound to make waves in Austin this year.
Check out all of his SXSW performances below:
03/14 Empire Auto (SPIN/Mazda) – 1:00PM
03/15 Bar 96 (Collide/Twix) – 5:00PM
03/16 French Legation (Pitchfork) – 2:00PM
03/16 Bat Bar (AEMMP) – 5:00PM
03/16 Mohawk (House Of Vans) – 11:00PM