Kweku Collins and Joseph Chilliams Credit: Courtesy of the Artist; Hannah Siegfried

When the morning show on Fox 32 invited Chicago rapper and Pivot Gang member Joseph Chilliams to perform on October 3, his appearance was hooked to an informal celebration of the 2004 comedy Mean Girls; lead actress Lindsey Lohan mentions October 3 in a throwaway scene, and the date has since become affectionally known as “Mean Girls Day” by superfans everwhere. Chilliams is one such Mean Girls fanatic. As he said on Fox, “I realized it was probably the best movie ever made and everyone should love this movie, if they don’t already.” Chilliams’s June EP, The Plastics, is the latest part of his proselytizing effort. As the title suggests, these songs are entrenched in the mythos and language of Mean Girls, but Chilliams goes beyond straight homage; he employs references to the movie within pop-culture-riddled raps in order to say something clever and disarming about the world he’s built with his music. On “You Think You’re Pretty,” Chilliams twists a barbed compliment from the film’s narrative into a love song, and compares his romantic interest to the crushable background character Glenn Coco before delivering the line, “I love you like / Pusha-T love cooked crack.” His set tonight is one of the first on his fall tour with headliner Kweku Collins, the Evanston rapper who’s been working on a follow-up to his wistful 2017 EP, Grey (Closed Sessions), after dropping a couple singles this year, “ET” and “Sisko and Kasidy.” Both tracks show him on an upward ascent, but the latter, a bleary, mournful collaboration with labelmate Ajani Jones, displays Collins’s ability to make a pop hook that demands to be replayed once the song ends.   v