(Photo courtesy Jason Swenson)
St. Paul, Minnesota is asserting its place in the hip-hop scene with the help of up-and-coming rapper/producer Allan Kingdom, whose eclectic 12-track EP Future Memoirs is reflective of the state's lush landscapes with a twist of the otherworldly. Standout track "Wavey," featuring St. Paul singer Spooky Black, glides smoothly beneath Kingdom's wobbly falsetto vocals like one of Minnesota's 10,000 serene lakes, while "Evergreens" rustles wildly like the sound of wind dancing through leaves; he's just as down to earth, as he is up in the stars.
Kingdom's style has been compared to rapper Kid Cudi, which is fitting, considering Plain Pat, who helped manage the early careers of Cudi and Kanye West, also produced Future Memoirs. Alongside Pat, Kingdom recruited DJ Kasloco to polish the project for a musical voyage that delivers an array of sounds unlike anything happening in modern-day hip-hop. Have a listen below.
How has growing up in Minnesota affected your music?
Minnesota has inspired my music through the environment and diversity of the neighborhoods I've been exposed to by living there -- the forests and the thousands of rivers that everyone chills at -- have affected how I see the world and how I've developed my aesthetic and sound. There's a high East African immigrant population, so if I'm not at home, I can stop somewhere and get something similar to what my mom would make.
Why the title Future Memoirs?
I divide my life between projects. Since I was born, I've been working on art projects -- most albums -- but along with visuals or animation. While many people remember their lives by where they went to school, who they were with, or what their favorite hangout spots were, I can really only remember my life the sharpest through the things I create. I've been going through an intense period of transitioning from idea to manifestation, so I thought I should make something to remind me of what things were like before Nothing Was The Same -- I don't care that I quoted Drake, either.
Is there a specific environment you feel most inspired to write?
Plain Pat and DJ Kasloco rented a house in Los Angeles and we stayed there for about a week, which is where I wrote most of the songs. Being around Plain Pat and DJ Kasloco -- two dudes I really look up to -- was definitely an inspiring environment, something I plotted on doing since I was 14.
Your music videos seem to play a large role in your artistry -- How important are the visuals in your work?
I would like to say the visual component to my work is secondary, but that's not necessarily true because I see images while I'm creating music. That being said, I try to not stress on the imagery too much -- if the music is good enough, it'll tell a story and all I have to do is lay it out for people to see. My video for "Evergreens," again being a part of Future Memoirs, was just a snapshot of my life, but life changes so quickly and it's already so different.
You have several albums under your belt. How do you feel your sound has progressed over the years?
It's become bigger -- it just appeals to more people, and has grown closer and deeper to myself. A huge misconception is that if you, in any part, make music for people, you're somehow not staying true to yourself. But I learn a lot about myself making music for people , which in turn provides my own personal therapy to help me better express my ideas louder and clearer to the world. I think my sound is becoming easier to understand.