This past spring, The FADER flew to St. Paul, Minnesota to spend time with rising rapper and singer Allan Kingdom and visit his childhood home for the second in our FADER Documentary series. A couple of months earlier, Kingdom had caught the world’s ear after being featured on Kanye West’s “All Day” and joining him on stage for an unforgettable performance at the BRIT Awards. As Kingdom tells it, an email from Kanye confidante Plain Pat changed his life, but his story began way before that. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to a pair of immigrants from Tanzania and South Africa, he was raised in the Twin Cities, where he eventually battled against the odds of being from a flyover state.
“Music is very competitive and he’s from Minnesota and people that succeed, most of the time they are from other places,” remembers his mom. “I didn’t think he would make it. What makes you successful is not just talent. It’s determination, it’s connection, it’s outlook to life.”
What makes Kingdom an especially intriguing and promising artist is his unique take on hip-hop. He blends a left-field, backpack rap feel with pop sensibilities, says Robert Semmer, The FADER’s senior producer and the director of True North. “In a world where everyone is trying to be someone else, Allan couldn’t be anybody but himself,” says Semmer. “Rap is so often about trying to put on a persona, but the colors in other rappers’ palettes, he doesn’t need any of those to paint.”