• 7

    Allan Kingdom

    Allan Kingdom hails from Minnesota, where a vibrant hip-hop scene has been thriving since Atmosphere was coming up in the mid '90s. The music, centralized around the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, reverberated around conscious rap and alternative hip-hop: cold, stark beats that embraced social and political issues alongside personal exorcisms. Swagger rap, it is not.

    Kingdom came to St. Paul by way of Canada and Wisconsin, a half-Tanzanian transplant that found a city ready to collaborate upon his arrival. His early releases (including the homemade Talk To Strangers debut) reflect his hometown's affinity for musicality and vulnerability, as well as a childhood spent listening to African music and Lionel Richie. He began collaborating with fellow Minnesotans like Spooky Black and Psymun.

    As Kingdom began to buzz, however, the big names came calling. Rather than disappearing into a label, however, Kingdom continued to test the waters. He began working with Plain Pat, and found inspiration from Pharrell, Kid Cudi, and Kanye West. After his appearance on "All Day," Kingdom has released a couple tracks that are a far cry from his early minimalist experimentations with Spooky Black. "Keep It Easy" sounds like it could have come from Yeezus or the South Side of Chicago, except for the fact that there's still a depth to the lyrics that separates Kingdom from his contemporaries and serves as a reminder of his Minnesotan roots.