Allan Kingdom, 22, is a rapper who’s been nominated for two Grammy Awards, appeared onstage with Kanye West at the Brit Awards to perform ‘All Day’ (the fiery, soulful hook of which he worked on) and messed about in the studio with Bon Iver on some as-yet-unreleased tunes.
Things are going well for the guy, but it hasn’t always been this way. Born in Winnipeg, Canada, when he was six his dad left him and his scientist mum and moved back to South Africa. Aged eight, Kingdom relocated to Wisconsin,
USA, but it was Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he put down roots. This led to a feeling of isolation while growing up. “I didn’t feel Canadian until I went to the US,” he says. “But then I felt too Canadian. In Toronto I felt too black, too African. I’ve always felt stuck in the middle. You can hear it in my music.”
Kingdom’s latest mixtape ‘Northern Lights’ is his fourth since 2011. It’s full of the brooding, synth-laden, sophisticated hip-hop sound that attracted the attention of Kanye and also Prince. A month before the Purple One died, he went to see Kingdom live in Minneapolis.
It wasn’t their first encounter. “When I was 19, he did a show at [his house] Paisley Park and wanted to shoot a video,” says Kingdom. “He was like, ‘I need every cool creative kid from the city here – I wanna capture them on film.’ We went there in my mum’s van and, kinda like ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, he did a show for us in a tiny room and he was right in front of us with a mic stand and his guitar.” The video never came out, but Kingdom says it was a “mad cool” experience. He’d better get used to those.
ALLAN KINGDOM: THE DETAILS
Saint Paul, Minnesota
‘Northern Lights’ is out now
Kingdom has gone by various aliases, including King Kyariga, The Northern Gentleman and Peanut Butter Prince.
Photo: Vivian Luxx