Artist Profile: Allan Kingdom
December 1, 2021
Allan Kingdom, real name Allan Kyariga, is a Canadian born rapper and musician who grew up here in the Twin Cities; St. Paul to be exact. “My musical style is pretty international I would say, I take a piece of myself from wherever my background is, so I was born in Canada, grew up in Minnesota and my parents are East African and South African,” Kingdom explains. “I feel like my style is just bits and pieces of those places.”
A 3x GRAMMY nominated independent, Kingdom has collaborated with the likes of Paul McCartney, Kanye West, Denzel Curry, Flume and many more. His latest single “Breathless” is evidence of his longevity, impact, and unique musical style.
“I feel like we drive a lot in the Midwest,” Kingdom said jokingly. “A lot of my music is for driving and just chilling, so this song is something I feel like I would like to drive around to.” Capitalizing on this ubiquitous aspect of midwestern living, the music video for “Breathless” shows Kingdom rolling around his hometown and features iconic locations throughout the Twin Cities. “I just wanted to represent the community I have grown up in and what I have been doing here lately so I just felt like it was a good visual to tie it all together,” Kingdom explained.
I just wanted to represent the community I have grown up in and what I have been doing here lately so I just felt like it was a good visual to tie it all together
— Allan Kingdom
In addition to his music, Kingdom is also the founder of Yebo Life, a Saint Paul based non-profit organization dedicated to providing long-term housing solutions to low income families. “What really kicked it off was when the George Floyd thing happened in Minneapolis,” Kingdom admitted. “That inspired a lot of people in a new way to do things differently.” Kingdom has been determined to do just that, and ensure that Yebo Life is not just a flash in the pan.
“I have always been a long-term problem solver,” Kingdom explained. “It’s just been growing since the beginning. I have been working with the city of Saint Paul and the state of Minnesota to put some housing together and create business spaces for low-income families that allows them to move up and rise,” says Kingdom. “It’s just been the right timing, it kind of fell in my lap.”
I have always been a long-term problem solver
— Allan Kingdom
This is no accident. While Kingdom may be extraordinarily humble he is also an incredibly savvy businessman. Founder of Yebo Life, executive of his own record label, Mogul Sound Music, and owner of his own real estate company, Kingdom Reality, he recognizes the importance of knowledge. “Knowledge is really like the greatest asset,” Kingdom explains. “I feel like when we talk about inequality the greatest thing that is kept away from either a group of people or a people who have been historically oppressed is knowledge.”
This recognition of the importance of knowledge is integral to Kingdom’s record label Mogul Sound Music. “We’re actually doing it the old fashioned way,” Kingdom explained when asked about his roster of artists. “We’re developing them and getting them ready before we blast the music out but it will be coming out really soon.” For Kingdom this transparency isn’t just good ethics, it’s good business. “It is natural when you do business sometimes people just disagree, that’s just life but we’re putting everything into the artists hands and saying ‘look there’s not any information we’re looking to keep from you, the more money you make the more money we make,” Kingdom explained with a laugh.
Despite spending a considerable amount of time in the industry, Kingdom is not out of touch with his hometown community. “There is definitely a need for housing and there is a need for jobs and places for the youth to go and things for them to do,” Kingdom said. “I feel like if we are able to tackle those four things on a long-term scale we will see positive changes.” As a nationally known musician Kingdom has the ability to draw resources from afar to his community. “A lot of businesses we see are voicing their support for different social causes and social change so I am able to be a voice for them and they are able to supply whatever we need in order to make our vision happen,” Kingdom explained.
There is definitely a need for housing and there is a need for jobs and places for the youth to go and things for them to do
— Allan Kingdom
The crossover between Kingdom’s various endeavors is extensive. “Even my music has opened doors in places I wouldn’t expect,” Kingdom confides. “I just wouldn’t think that it would be applicable but you know through me just putting out music and being around and putting out positivity that has helped people in real life and it has opened doors for me.” Without music, Kingdom’s current efforts would have been much more challenging. “Had I not been doing all of that it would have been way harder to break down these barriers,” Kingdom admits.
Breaking barriers is the name of the game for Kingdom, who is pushing the envelope on a unique new strategy for releasing music. “I have a project coming out called ‘Me,’” says Kingdom. “It will be coming out in late 2021 or early 2022 and that’s actually going to come out as an NFT.” An NFT or Non Fungible Token is essentially a one of one digital copy of something, in this case Kingdom’s upcoming Mixtape “Me Vol. 1.” This concept is essentially taking the digital listening experience and introducing the scarcity and exclusivity that we see with limited runs of rare vinyl.
“It’s volume one so be on the lookout for the rest of them too, coming out right after,” says Kingdom. “My fans will be able to buy it with their crypto and hold it and as my career grows and my notoriety grows they will be able to profit off of that as well,” Kingdom explains. “I think it’s a really cool thing.
My fans will be able to buy it with their crypto and hold it and as my career grows and my notoriety grows they will be able to profit off of that as well
— Allan Kingdom
With big things on the horizon for Kingdom, the MC made sure to highlight the other big events going on at Mogul Sound Music and Yebo life. “Our artists all have music coming out as well, and for Yebo Life we have new buildings being worked on right now and being developed,” Kingdom explained. “We will have projects with my real estate company Kingdom Reality that will be unveiled in 2022 and we are also working on putting together a festival as well.”
Today’s music industry is vastly saturated with an insane amount of music. There is no way to listen to it all. However, Kingdom is not like other artists, he is simply more than an artist. With an entirely unique sound and the business savvy of a true music mogul, Allan Kingdom and his label will be big players in the years to come.