Allan Kingdom hit my radar, as will be the case for most last year, largely in part to his appearance on Kanye West's track, "All Day". Kingdom’s “Future Memoirs” got the over play treatment in the studio for me thereafter. One of my favourite tracks from last year was on there. “Wavey” (video below) featuring fellow Minnesotan rapper, Spooky Black is Kingdom at his best. The raspy tone to his singing voice is really nice over the bassline. Whilst rapping, he is reminiscent of Chance The Rapper with his vocal inflection at times. No bad thing. Check out Spooky’s breakout, “Without You” by clicking through as well if you aren’t au fait. Questionable durag and Fubu aside, the track is super chill, upper echelon R&B no doubt.
On his 22nd birthday, Kingdom dropped his new project, "Northern Lights", executive produced by himself, Plain Pat, and Jonathan Kaslow, and includes feature appearances from D.R.A.M., Gloss Gang, and Chronixx. Additional production comes from Jared Evan, Swizzy Mack, and more. Stream the project below.
“The Ride”, with punchy kicks and nice wordplay dropping into some falsetto and nice vocal breaks is a great start. He loves meandering awkwardly across a beat. It works. “The Forest” beat is dark and ambient, setting the tone for “Fables” featuring Chronixx. Layered up vocals, staccato drums and clean mixing make for a quality tune.
“Monkey See” makes reference to the plethora of copycat artists out there at the minute. Kingdom knows himself and he’s not shy about it. Ironically, it’s not particularly anything new but certainly better than most filler tracks out there. “Hypocrite” picks the baton up again though. The vocals remind me of something off For Emma, Forever Ago (Bon Iver) I think he’s really honed in on his sound, perfecting it since his last project and the production lifts it to the next level.
Title track, “Northern Lights” is alright. I can’t see myself returning to it too often but I did find myself head bobbing to it. Here Kingdom expresses that he’s “…been on a mission lately…and it’s fun to me.” You can tell as we proceed to D.R.A.M. featured track “Renovate”. For me, it’s nothing special but I did enjoy the feature. “Believe” has some old school Kid Cudi vibes. The minimal guitar licks, bouncy synths, spacey vocals and muted kick drum make for an extremely enjoyable, melodic track that picks up excellently in the latter half.
“Disconnect” didn’t do it for me. I actually can’t form a sentence about it. It just seemed a little repetitive, inoffensive but ultimately forgettable. Not for me, but hardly shit. I really liked the autotuned vocal over the fuzzy bassline in “I Feel Ya”, breaking down into a pretty eerie, string infused, intense instrumental towards the end before coming back to it’s roots.
“Interruption” has that signature sound once again before “Go Fish’ deviates a little bit to give off some braggadocious vibes through some clever metaphors. “Outta Pocket” featuring Gloss Gang carries on with that tone but I’m not entirely sure it’s the best way to close out the album as it seems Kingdom gave a little too much shine to his contributors. Selfless for sure, a song with replay value, yes, but I can’t help wanting more of that unfettered Kingdom sounds.
On the whole, the new project shows his range of talents superbly, bolstered by some crazy good production. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s got a massive radio smash in his back pocket for an official debut, but I can’t see that being his modus operandi. Finally, check out this nicely filmed short by The Fader if you want to find out a little more about the artist. If you have any new album suggestions, throw them in the comments below. Cheers for reading and be sure to press play.