"I'm in the mentality of, 'Fuck everybody,' but in a fun way," Allan Kingdom laughs.
Kingdom is still in his early twenties, but his career has already seen several chapters. After building a dedicated online following through a series of recordings from his St. Paul bedroom, Kingdom formed a Minnesota supergroup called thestand4rd, collaborated with Kanye West, received Grammy nominations, and self-released a handful of well-received solo projects.
So, what's the best way to describe Allan Kingdom's current chapter? Freedom.
In a preview video for his next project, Peanut Butter Prince, Kingdom explains that he's already met—and been disappointed by—most of his idols. He's seen the highs and the lows of the music industry and come out the other side with an unrestrained outlook on creativity. Fully independent (he even manages himself), Kingdom says he feels more free than ever and explains that he's "been in the mentality of like, 'Why not do as many things as possible?'" He adds, "Any time I think of an idea, I'm going to do it. That's just a mentality I've adopted recently. If I think of doing a show or whatever, I'm going to at least try it. Why wouldn't I?"
Kingdom's open-minded point of view encouraged him to try comedy with his friend Drelli, and the two created a series of sketches called Coming to LA. Then, after the release of his 2017 project, LINES, Kingdom decided to tap into his parents' African roots and release a series of one-off world music songs that represented a departure from his western-influenced style. "It's just something I've always wanted to do, really," he says. "It's the type of music that I grew up listening to. It's what most of my family listened to and danced to. I wanted to have songs in my catalog that represent that, because it's important to who I am."
Peanut Butter Prince is an extension of this carefree perspective. "Every time I was in the studio for this project, I was in a good mood," he says. "I was in a good space where I didn't really have to think too much. I could just let the music flow out."
As you head into the release of Peanut Butter Prince, what’s the mindset? What’s different?
I'm more carefree. This music has the same kind of energy as the singles I've been dropping, but I feel like it's up a couple levels. It's a good mesh of a carefree feeling, with the messages that I've always had in my music. I found a way to put my personality in both. Also—at the same time—I'm in the mentality of, 'Fuck everybody,' but in a fun way.
You recently put out a series of one-off songs that went in a new direction for you. They have more of a world sound and an African influence. What inspired that?
That's always kind of been in my music, but not totally straightforward. It's just something I've always wanted to do, really. It's the type of music that I grew up listening to. It's what most of my family listened to and danced to. I wanted to have songs in my catalog that represent that, because it's important to who I am.
It's a weird period for me, because I feel like I got new fans from the world music scene. But the people who had been following me were used to a more western sound, so they didn't understand it at all. For me, it was important to show everyone that this is actually where I come from, though.
Why did you think now was the right time to finally do that kind of music?
Because I had the freedom to. Throughout my career, I've gained more and more control over my own decisions. I just decided I wanted to do this.
None of those songs ended up on the new project. Why did you put them out as singles instead of packaging them together in a project?
I was already working on Peanut Butter Prince and I just wanted to get these out as I was making them. I didn't want to put too much thought into it. Maybe moving forward, I'll have a project where it incorporates that sound and I'll put more thought into it. But for now, I just wanted to keep the energy up, challenge myself, and see how many of these I could have fun with.
I noticed those were released under Yebo Inc. You had been releasing your music under So Cold. Did something change?
At first everything was So Cold Records and I just wanted to take everything in a new direction. That's just my new imprint. I'm still releasing everything myself. It's still all me. I just switched the aesthetic and the message a little bit. It's still all about being creative and believing in yourself.
You recently put out a series of comedy videos with Drelli called Coming to LA. How did you link up with him and what made you want to try comedy?
I met him in Minnesota, actually. Since I met him, we've just been mad cool. Then we moved out to LA and got a place together. Like I was saying, I feel like the music that I've made so far in my catalog is great, and I know people love it and everything, but I'm a creative so I want to express every part of my personality. I don't want people to think I'm just serious all the time or I'm just sitting there thinking. When I put them out, people were definitely surprised. Like, "Damn, I didn't know you would do this." [Laughs]
I've been in the mentality of like, "Why not do as many things as possible?" Any time I think of an idea, I'm going to do it. That's just a mentality I've adopted recently. If I think of doing a show or whatever, I'm going to at least try it. Why wouldn't I?
Drelli and I are always cracking jokes. Or we'll see something and be like, "Yo, that would be so funny if it was in a video." Then it just got to the point, like, "Why don't we just make a video?"
You can take the bad things that have happened to you and go darker. Or you cAN take them and learn from them and make light of them.
Was the concept of the video series inspired by you guys just moving to LA and living together?
Yeah, one of the obvious inspirations was just us living together. And just everyday life. You see so many characters in music. And on top of that, we're in LA, we're in Hollywood. Just trying to do something, period, in life, you come across so many different types of people and characters. There's constant inspiration and shit to make fun of. Sometimes you can't always put that into a song, so we wanted to capture our journey in a way that was fun and funny and creative. It's basically just a mixture of everyday life, stuff we see on the internet, and industry stuff. It's inspired by different stereotypes of people you meet—whether that be a SoundCloud rapper or someone that's working at a label. Just different shit from life.
Some of the videos and songs for the one-off world music tracks were lighter and a little more comical than your earlier stuff. Do you think that inspired by the comedy videos?
Kind of, yeah. At this point, I've been in music for a little bit now. You can take the bad things that have happened to you and go darker. Or you can take them and learn from them and make light of them. I've been through stuff and I could take it and be depressed and say all this depressing shit. Or I could channel it in a positive way. So that's how I'm in the space I'm in now. People are like, "Oh, do you even still take music seriously?" And it's like, "Yeah, but not as seriously as I did before or else I'd go crazy." I'm supposed to be having fun. It's supposed to be an escape from the actual, real world. If I took it super seriously, I would be miserable. At some point, I've just got to have fun, because that's what I started doing it for.
You recently put out a video captioned “It's officially Peanut Butter Season” that marked the beginning of this new cycle. In the clip, you say, “You should be your only idol. You realize these idols are false. They're flawed just like you and in most cases, even more." What do you mean by that?
Everyone's human. You see all these images of people over and over again. They're obviously going to put their best foot forward in the images that they put out, because they have control over that. Even just everyday people in general are going to put up pictures online that they think they look the best in. So, someone who is famous or who you look up to, you're constantly seeing the best images of them. You're constantly reading about them in their best light.
Like, right now, in this interview, I'm thinking about what I'm going to say in the best way possible. You're not hanging out with me every day and hearing all the dumb shit I say. People are reading the stuff that I thought about and explained in the best way. Then an editor is editing these words and making them sound the best. But once you meet these people, you see their flaws.
Let's say you look up to someone and you guys don't get along or they feel threatened by you—it changes your whole perspective of everything. Sometimes you don't even realize how much you look up to people until they shatter your perception of them. You don't even realize you put this person on a pedestal until they do something shady or bogus. When they ruin it, you're like, "Damn, I really looked up to you." But you might not even realize that until they break your perception. Then you look at everyone else and wonder why they all look up to these people so much.
What do you think you've learned and taken away from those experiences?
People treat someone who has a bigger name than them as more important than someone who genuinely believes in them. But really, someone who genuinely believes in you—but isn't as successful as a huge celebrity—is going to do more for you than someone who you put on a pedestal. I think that's the biggest thing I learned. Because you can meet someone who's a billionaire or something, but if they don't like you and they don't fuck with you, then they just don't. There's nothing you can do to change that. Kissing their ass isn't going to change that. But you can meet someone who is working in a random pizza shop or a record store, who genuinely believes in you and will do more for your life than any of those other people.
You recently quote-tweeted Kanye and asked him to “share some of that 'All Day' money.” Has that been resolved since you tweeted that?
It will get resolved. In general, I didn't feel respected. I'm not saying it's his fault directly. But it was a little shady. That's all I'm going to say. When I can actually explain it the right way, I will. But right now, all I'm going to say is, when I get to that place, I'm going to make sure any young artist that I work with is going to be taken care of. The energy in the camp when I was there felt weird, that's all.
Peanut Butter Prince is produced entirely by Anthony Kilhoffer. How’d you link up with him?
He actually hit me on Twitter when I went to LA. We linked up and I explained to him my whole vision of where I'm trying to take everything: the image, the sound, everything. He rocked with it. I was explaining to him how I feel like everything now is extreme. Like, if you're a male artist, you need to be super thug or you've got to be overly soft. It's one of the other. Either you're a super thug or you're, like, an extreme pussy. [Laughs]. You know what I mean?
Artists that I respect are just people. It's not like they're trying to go too hard in one direction. I feel like that's how I am. I'm trying to represent something that you can listen to and vibe to. I basically explained my whole vision and everything and he was really rocking with it, so we got in the studio and just made these songs back to back. They all flowed together so beautifully. We were working with live musicians, which is actually how I started when I was first making music, so it was really cool to go back to that. So yeah, we got the project done in like a month.
The Peanut Butter Prince is someone who is just proud of himself, proud of where he comes from, confident, and doesn't really give a fuck—but cares about people.
Would you say this new project is sort of a bridge between your older stuff and the new world music you've been making?
Yeah, I feel like this is tying it all together in a cool way. I had more time to focus on the musicality. You know, working with a band, you have time to like, really focus on a bass line with someone who really knows how to play guitar. But yeah, I'm really happy with it. This my favorite project so far that I've done.
Who is the Peanut Butter Prince?
The Peanut Butter Prince is someone who is just proud of himself, proud of where he comes from, confident, and doesn't really give a fuck—but cares about people.
This project doesn’t have any features on it. Why’d you decide to go that route?
I just think so much hype is put on the features of stuff, and I really feel like the songs just stand alone. I was thinking, like, "Who am I going to put on this?" But the only reason I would put people on the songs is to get more plays on it, not because I actually thought it would sound better. And I think when you hear it, it'll be more timeless if there's no one else on it.
You mentioned earlier that you've been moving on instinct lately. Is that what the creative process of this album was like?
Definitely. It was a lot more free. A lot of the songs were one take—first take. I've been writing music for a long time, so when something comes to me and I'm really feeling it in the moment, I usually don't have to change it. Unless I messed something up. But at this point, if I was feeling it in the moment, it's usually going to sound good. It's really about my mood in the moment. If I'm not really in the mood and I'm forcing myself to do something, it's going to come out bad. But every time I was in the studio for this project, I was in a good mood. I was in a good space where I didn't really have to think too much. I could just let the music flow out. I think people are going to really feel it. I don't want to talk it up too much, but I'm personally really proud of it.
I saw you contributed vocals to that new song Justin Vernon performed live recently. That’s pretty crazy, how’d that happen?
He's actually been supporting me for years now. I just met up at his crib. He has this amazing place. It's basically an amusement park for musicians. So sometimes I go out there and we just freestyle sing back and forth. I think he took something from one of those sessions where we were singing back and forth and just put it in a song.
Where are things at with thestand4rd?
I think that's kind of done. Just the way everything was set up was fucked up. Like the management and everything. Unfortunately, sometimes that can get in the way of the actual creativity of something. That's the thing that sucks. You can have a creative vibe with someone, but then it's not set up right, or the management is on some shady shit or something. And it fucks up your relationship, sadly. I feel like when thestand4rd started, before we had a manager and really got into the industry, everything was perfect. We made this project and everything was so dope. Then as soon as industry people got in... It sounds cliché as fuck, but it's true: As soon as the old industry guys got in and started giving suggestions, things got fucked up.
You always have to have control over your shit. As soon as you start letting those outside forces take control, things get fucked up. That's definitely what happened with thestand4rd.
Do you think that's why you've been able to be so free lately? Because you're doing everything yourself?
Yeah, I'm doing everything myself. I'm even managing myself right now, too. Until you find someone who's trying to make your vision come to pass, it's always better to just do it yourself or do it with your homies until you find that person who's really trying to make your vision come to pass. It's hard to find, but it's worth it to put in all the groundwork yourself.
You always have to have control over your shit. As soon as you start letting those outside forces take control, things get fucked up.
Would you say there are any misconceptions about you?
Not really. Not now. We covered that earlier a little, about how I used to feel people thought I was serious all the time. But I think now, people know the other side, too. So, no, not really. There's nothing where I'm like, "Oh man, people have that fucked up."
I guess people think I stopped making music at times. But it's like, nah, shit was just fucked up and I had to take a step back. I'm not going to play victim, because at the end of the day, you choose to trust people. Then you learn from it. Sometimes you have to take a step back and rethink your game plan. So I guess the only real misconception some people have about me is thinking that I just did this song with Kanye or whatever and then chose to get lazy. But it's like, nah, when you trust people and they promise you things and you rely on their word, and it doesn't follow through, it just reflects back on you as the artist. At the end of the day, that's what I asked for, though. Because I'm putting my name out there.
Your career has already had a lot of different chapters. As you're heading into the release of Peanut Butter Prince, how would you define this current chapter?
I would define this as the culmination of everything so far. I feel like I was able to put everything I've been through into these six songs. Through the messages and the sound and the vibe, I feel like it's a culmination of everything. Even the nickname Peanut Butter Prince started when I dropped Future Memoirs, which was years ago. So, I'm just taking parts of what worked and putting them back together. Just piecing everything back together that was broken.