I still remember every detail of my afternoon on April 3, 2012, the release date of Chance The Rapper’s outstanding debut mixtape, #10Day. I was sitting in my apartment in Boston waiting for the download link to float onto my timeline, and as soon as Illroots delivered their post, I was all over it. Four songs in, I knew two things: Chance was going to be huge, and I wasn’t going to my 4 PM class. I had to skip it so I could listen again (and a few more times after that) and write down my thoughts on the project right away. Beyond the surface level, “this is a great body of work” reaction, I was incredibly excited. #10Day felt remarkably fresh. It was creative, impassioned, and experimental—and most importantly, it didn’t feel like it was crafted for the sole purpose of being appreciated in the moment. Its soon-to-be-realized longevity was palpable.
Fast-forward two years and some change: I’m sitting in an apartment in Harlem working on a music video. Allan Kingdom’s Future Memoirs—a project I’ve been looking forward to since my friend Tebs put me onto Allan’s excellent Talk To Strangers EP last summer—just premiered on Fader in its 12-track glory. Similarly to April 3, 2012, I had to step out of the room to give Future Memoirs a focused listen and write down my thoughts.
Like Chance then, Allan is an exciting new artist on the brink of something truly special. The 20-year-old rapper/producer out of St. Paul, Minnesota is quirky, wise beyond his years, and unafraid to test uncharted waters—in fact, he thrives in them. He’s been working with Plain Pat since he was 17, and Pat’s presence is felt throughout Future Memoirs as he co-produced three of its tracks (“Souls,” “Evergreens,” and “Famines”) and is listed one of three executive producers (including Allan and DJ Kasloco.) The remaining cast of characters involved with the project—Spooky Black, Psymun, Bobby Raps, and Ryan Olson—all represent Allan’s home state, making for a picturesque snapshot of one of America’s premier underground hip-hop scenes.
Future Memoirs feels undeniably futuristic and equally engaging from top to bottom. The mesmerizing, dually minimal and complex production pairs beautifully with Allan’s charismatic, often sing-songy raps, and the hooks are all unique and thought-provoking in their own respective rights. While there’s a plethora of notable elements and a wealthy selection of impressive tracks, Allan is perhaps at his best on “Positive,” an extended interlude of sorts in which he croons “but am I being too positive?” repeatedly after various life ponderings—such as whether he should return to school or thank his mom for all she’s done—over an atmospheric, looped Bobby Raps instrumental. It’s an incredible stream of consciousness record (Allan revealed that he freestyled the track) that’s formless and focused at once, making for a fascinating juxtaposition.
Other standouts include “Wavey,” featuring a flawless contribution from Spooky Black, the fake love-condemning “Imposters,” and the project’s lead single, “Evergreens.” Future Memoirs is enjoyable all the way through, though, and it’s hard to see it not continuing to grow on listeners as time passes. Like #10Day, Allan Kingdom’s latest effort wasn’t crafted for today. Future Memoirs is forever. Stream the album in its entirety below, and click here to download.