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The Scarlet & Black

Allan Kingdom and Webster X to deliver emotive rap performances

James Marlow – Matt Kartanata
James Marlow - Matt Kartanata
James Marlow. Photo by Matt Kartanata.

James Marlow

St. Paul-based rapper and singer Allan Kingdom will be joining opening act Webster X for the semester’s third concert tonight, Feb. 12, in Gardner Lounge. Kingdom’s emotive synthesis of melodic R&B hooks with confessional rap will be sure to bring an engaging performance to campus.

Kingdom was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to a South African father and a Tanzanian mother, and moved to St. Paul, Minn. as a child. Performing under various monikers in his early career, including “King Kyariga” and “Peanut Butter Prince,” Kingdom first gained traction as part of the Twin Cities hip hop collective, The Stand4rd, which released a collaborative self-titled album in late 2014. Comprised of artists Psymun, Bobby Raps and the doleful Corbin (previously known as Spooky Black), The Stand4rd is defined by their left-of-center production, replete with atmospheric drones and piercing hi-hats.

In 2015, Allan Kingdom gained much traction as a result of his feature on Kanye West’s track “All Day,” where he carries the mournful and staccato chorus, linking contributions by fellow heavyweights Theophilus London and Paul McCartney.

Singing “I took a young sweet breath, and I reached into my Earth / Gave him what I had left / At that moment I dispersed / At that moment I dispersed,” Kingdom demonstrates his aptitude for transforming the confessional into the transcendent. His new mixtape “Northern Lights,” released in January, has garnered significant acclaim. Expect Kingdom to show off this new material at Friday’s performance.

Webster X (Sam Ahmed) is a Milwaukee-based MC and poet who is often positioned as an experimental rapper. In addition to collaborating with Allan Kingdom on the track “Kinfolk,” Webster X has worked onstage with the likes of Mick Jenkins and Lupe Fiasco. Despite these high profile collaborations, Webster X maintains a distinct voice, pairing claims of triumphant self-affirmation with a blissed out flow. On his song, “Doomsday,” a paean to letting go and putting one’s troubles in perspective, Webster X effortlessly utters, “So why the fuck you been stressin’ / Beat these woes you bench press ’em / Vivid visions of a young black man on a mission.”

This liberating message is translated into the song’s production, which is buoyant and ethereal, misty but never brooding. Webster X’s set will be sure to kick off the night with a recuperative and relaxing outlook, transforming Gardner Lounge into the perfect space to forget about those midwinter blues, at least for a bit.

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