Midwest rapper, producer, and singer Allan Kingdom has already enjoyed an incredibly kinetic 2015 filled with last-minute flights, televised performances, and Kanye West collaborations. We caught up with him to dig a little deeper, and find out where the path began that led him to such a meteoric introduction to the mainstream.
How did you link up with Plain Pat and Jon Kaslow?
I’m obviously a fan of Cudi’s early work, and Ye, and whatnot. I would always just be on the Internet doing research on who was responsible for what, from the music I liked. One week—I was 17—with my friend Checho making videos, he was my main creative partner. And I was like, “Yo, I’m gonna get in touch with Plain Pat this week.” He was just like, “Ok, cool.” Like, I didn’t know how I was gonna do it but I just knew that I was. I just decided that that’s what I was gonna do because I thought that would be the next right move for my career. I didn’t want to be just some random kid without any guidance, just out here. So, I was on Twitter heavy that whole week, finding out who his friends were and whatnot. And I met Timm Hotep from Mass Appeal on Twitter. I sent him “Thirsty,” which was the first song I released where people were like, “whoa.” It was the first sort-of notable Allan Kingdom song. I did a video for it and sent it to Tim.
I already knew that he knew Pat, but I didn’t know how well—didn’t know how their relationship was. And I was like, “Would you happen to know Pat? Or be cool with him?” And he writes me back, “Yeah, he’s gonna email you in ten minutes.” [Laughs] And so he did.
Then I got to know Kaslow through Pat.
I always felt like part of the creative process is being able to distinguish which people to link up with. I feel like that messes great artists up sometimes. When you link up with the wrong people, and the wrong people are surrounding you, it can take your art into a different direction, too. And I feel like that’s something people don’t take into consideration, just the creatives they surround themselves with.
Pat and Kas and I kept talking throughout me releasing stuff. They always let me naturally grow into the direction I wanted to go into. They just gave me advice on how to do things, and then officially became my managers around the end of 2013. Because at that point I was actually being solicited by labels, and other things I needed help with. I needed to link up with people who had experience. It’s cool because the process has been the same with the advising and stuff. Nothing really changed; we just got busier.
Being that you were pretty young then, was it difficult to say no to those solicitors and labels?
No, it wasn’t even that difficult really because I’ve always had a clear vision of what I’ve wanted to do. So when somebody offers me something that doesn’t really align with that, it’s just like, “No thanks. I’ll just wait until you get it.” You know what I mean?
Well, that was easy. So, being that I come from the Minneapolis/St Paul area as well, I followed the hip hop scene out there for many years. I can’t help but wonder, how do you feel about leading the charge on the movement that's slowly pushing Doomtree and Rhymesayers out?
It’s not even really something I think about. Not something I even take into consideration because that was never the goal. The goal was just to spread my own music and my own heart. It’s just honoring that kids like it. When kids like something, it’s just the coolest thing. That’s just how the world works. When I was a kid and I really liked something, I remember how that felt. I’m just happy I could give kids that same feeling. I didn’t have anything that I felt represented me specifically in my area where I’m from, so it’s cool to see kids have that now. It’s humbling.
I know you dropped a single recently that’s doing really well online right now, “Keep It Easy.” Is that a teaser or a preview from an impending album?
That’s just something we put out just 'cause. It’s cool to see people react to it like that. It’s just one of the things I made that we decided to put out because I’m constantly just making things and creating.
I am working on a project though, but “Keep It Easy” won’t be on it.
What kind of project? Mixtape? Proper release?
I think it’s going to be a proper release, like an album. Things always change, but for now it’s gonna be an album, I’m pretty sure. I have a lot of songs done. They just need to be worked on a little bit more. I probably gotta go back in and re-record some things because your raps get better as time goes on. Just going in and tightening things up and making it all cohesive. I don’t really have any features on it right now.
Do you want to?
I don’t know. Like, I mostly feed off the energy of the day-to-day. I do have long term plans that I put into motion and work towards every day. But it’s also a balance of reading the energy of the day, of the week. You’ll see Beyonce drop an album and 10 videos randomly and if you drop a song that day it’s not the smartest decision. You just have to have instincts and go with your gut. That’s something that I’ve learned how to do really well. That all comes into play when we talk about a project or an album release. I can’t just be like, “I’m gonna release it August 22nd” when I just did the Kanye feature and things are still growing for me. I just vibe out whatever’s going on and feel out when’s the best time to release something.
Is this project going to be self-produced again, or is there a lot of stuff on there from Pat?
Right now the main producers on it are me and Ryan Olson [of Gayngs, Polica]. I think Pat’s gonna add some stuff. There’s not too many hands in the pot, to be real. It’s just a couple people. I like working in intimate settings; it’s just how I work most effectively. I might reach out to some other producers as well if I feel a song needs a certain quality, my doors are still open to collaborating. But for now it’s just us.