Kweku Collins – Say It Here, While It’s Safe
Right now, it is an excellent time for music in Chicago and for R&B music.
Chicago artists such as Kanye West, Mick Jenkins, Vic Mensa, Chance the Rapper, Common, Chief
Keef, Lupe Fiasco, and more have released excellent projects recently, or, in the case of West
and Mensa, are dropping highly anticipated projects later this year.
On the R&B side, recent albums from D’Angelo, Miguel, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Jhené Aiko, and SZA have
been highly acclaimed, and upcoming albums from Frank Ocean and The Weeknd are some more of the
more anticipated projects for the upcoming portion of the year.
Kweku Collins has the luxury of falling right into the laps of both of those categories. The 18
year old is a recent graduate of Evanston High School, in the northern Chicago suburb of
Evanston – best known as the home of the prestigious Northwestern University. Say It Here,
While It’s Safe is Collins’ debut EP on Chicago-based label Closed Sessions, following the release of non-EP
singles “Start a Fire” and “Your Song”. The EP can be considered both R&B and hip-hop, but considering that their is more singing than there is rapping, I will consider it an R&B album for these purposes.
Production for the album was mainly handled by Collins himself, and of the tracks he produced
himself (“Never Say Die” and “Love it All” were co-produced by label-mate Boathouse), they employ elements of
jazz and classical instruments, such as on the track “Holla If Ya Hear Me”, the opening track
which is based off of a piano and drum beat with some trumpet-like sounds in the background
during an instrumental outro. The track “Kings” begins with a slow, string choir before
developing into a heavier, drum based beat, one of the heaviest on the project. Other songs,
such as “Colors” and “Howl”, have weaker instrumentals, and those tracks rely heavily on
Collins’ vocals to provide value to the song. In particular, the beat on “Colors” is very slow
and quiet, while on “Howl”, it is loud and fast – a little too much in that regard. The closing
track “Love it All” has the most interesting instrumental on the project with a beat that has
elements of several different genres, with some slow drums, instruments, and even some EDM-
influenced sounds towards the beginning of the track.
Vocally, Collins has a very smooth, lullaby-like flow, that sometimes when combined with the
slower instrumentals, makes you feel like falling asleep to the album. That’s not to say that
his vocals are boring, just that they can sometimes be drowned out by the beat in the
background, especially if it slow, such as on the track “Colors”. Hooks are Collins’ strength
on the album with well-sung, catchy hooks on many of the tracks – most notably “Holla If Ya
Hear Me” and “Lonley Lullabies”. Lonely Lullabies in particular is already one of my favorite
songs of the year, with a very playful beat to go along with excellent singing and a very
interesting instrumental break early in the track that sets the tone for the remainder of the
song. He leads his singing perfectly into an excellent hook that makes you want to sing right
along. All in all, this is an excellent effort for Collins. He has a very soothing voice,
and while it may not be like a Frank Ocean or a Miguel, it gets you attached to the lyrics he
is singing. Collins may not be in the mainstream as of now, but if he continues to put out
catchy music, he will be there soon enough.
FAVORITE TRACKS: Lonely Lullabies, Holla If Ya Hear Me, Love It All
LEAST FAVORITE TRACK: Colors