Best Hip-Hop Artist (2014)

Allan Kingdom

We like to imagine our musicians toiling away in private, immersing themselves in their art while isolated from the outside world. The reality is often not nearly so romantic, but every once in a while someone like Allan Kingdom comes along to make you think twice. Kingdom has recorded several EPs and mixtapes over the past few years, and yet last year's Talk to Strangers appeared like a fully formed oddity straight from the ether, mining the strange, fascinating depths of an inspired imagination. In fact, Kingdom's is perhaps the freshest and weirdest voice to have emerged in local hip-hop at a time when the scene has been enjoying one of its most exciting bursts of creativity. His music is very much its own beast, his beats vivid, dynamic dreamscapes that cast off traditional song structures and follow the more fluid whims of his own consciousness. Lyrically, the St. Paul native — precocious at a mere 20 years old — has put his finger on a vocabulary that lands somewhere between Kid Cudi and Drake, full of obtuse imagery and soul-searching self-reflection. It's daring work, and poised to only get better as it becomes fully acclimated to the world around it.


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