Veteran Denver MC Koo Qua Is Also a Student, Artist and More

Koo Qua performs on the Vinyl rooftop stage at the Westword showcase Saturday evening.EXPAND
Koo Qua performs on the Vinyl rooftop stage at the Westword showcase Saturday evening.
Mary Willson

Niquasia Waddles (aka Koo Qua) is no rookie when it comes to the Westword Music Showcase. She started her career a decade ago, when she was in her early twenties, living in Aurora, and she made her first appearance at the June festival four years ago.

On Vinyl's rooftop over the weekend, it was obvious that she's comfortable on stage. She bounced back and forth, waking the crowd from its boozy, sun-dazed stupor with her fast and heavy words.

"Having this opportunity is always great. I mean, this is a part of my life, and being here four years really adds on to the experience," she says after her early-evening set, downing a cup of water and wiping off brow sweat. "I've been growing every year as an artist."

She was sporting a Viola Extracts shirt as well as socks and a headband with a Koo Qua logo she designed herself. Her outfit hinted at her busy life off the stage. "Right now I'm getting my bachelor's in fine arts. I’m a drawing concentration, so I draw majority of the time. I do a little sculpting as well. I'm getting excited, getting into the technology field," she says. She's been taking Metropolitan State University courses on computer art with a focus in graphic design and animation. "Technology is the future. I mean, I'm trying not to be a starving artist here."

She works over twelve hours a day, going straight from a full day of working at cannabis company Viola Extracts to night classes at Metro. She's a senior, and plans to continue to pair her art with her brand as an artist after she graduates.

Her busy schedule can make it hard to fit everything in; right now, work, school and visual art take up her weekdays. "The weekends are normally when I have the most free time — I can make music," she says. "I mean, you have to make it work. We're all adults here in this game, so we all need to time-manage."

Still, she's hardly overwhelmed. In fact, she's considering adding one more responsibility to her life. "I might get a dog," she says. "I want a Yorkie." For the moment, her sights are set on finishing her college education, creating art and playing music. The dog will come with time, she says. She is, however, thinking of possible names. 


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