Gig Seeker Pro


Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2018 | SELF

Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2018
Solo Hip Hop Pop




"First Avenue’s Best New Bands: Nur-D"

This year’s Best New Bands showcase took place this past Saturday at First Avenue. Writer Colleen Cowie and photographer Helen Teague attended to check out each of the seven acts: Green/Blue, Under Violet, Loki’s Folly, FruitPunchLoverBoy, Mae Simpson Music, Muun Bato, and Nur-D.

Matt Allen began rapping in 2018, but he’s already performed at Soundset, been crowned the Twin Cities’ best new artist, recorded a session at The Current, and performed at First Avenue. In some ways, his performance at First Ave’s Best New Bands concert felt like a victory lap. But then again, Nur-D is just getting started.

Allen and his bandmates bounded onto First Ave’s stage in matching Tune Squad jerseys, a nod to the classic 1996 Looney Tunes-meets-pro basketball flick Space Jam — just the kind of cultural reference that Nur-D thrives on. In any given Nur-D song, Allen might shout out Harry Potter or Batman, and his flexes include winning at chess and paying off his student loans.

Even more impressive than his quick-witted rap verses and expressive singing voice is Allen’s unbreakable, uplifting energy. The whole squad onstage, from the four-piece horn section to the drummer, who played nearly half the set standing up, sung along to every song and bounced through playful choreography. “I’m feeling glorious,” Allen sang with arms outstretched during Nur-D’s final song. And with adrenaline and smiles clinging to the air, the rest of First Ave felt pretty glorious too. - The Current

"Minnesota's 10 best albums of 2019 so far, from J.S. Ondara to Nur-D"

Celebrating the non-superstars in our midst who are keeping the art of album-making alive.
No, Lizzo is not on this list. The Minneapolis-reared “Juice”-maker has showed up on just about every other midyear best-of tally, but she neither lived nor worked in Minnesota during the making of her third full-length album, “Cuz I Love You.” Prince, on the other hand, was still rocking out at the old Purple House in Chanhassen when most of the newly unearthed tracks on his “Originals” collection were recorded.

More than ever, though, this list is about celebrating the non-superstars in our midst who are keeping the art of album-making alive.

The Cactus Blossoms, “Easy Way”

As if out to prove they’re more than just a couple of pretty voices — but oh, those sibling harmonies could still make a Russian mafia goon swoon — Minneapolis natives Jack Torrey and Page Burkum mixed things up from the vintage Everly Brothers sound that’s made them almost famous. There’s a lot of posh, playful, neo-twang guitar work with help from third brother Tyler Burkum and Jacob Hanson in peppier tunes such as “Please Don’t Call Me Crazy,” while down-and-out numbers such as “Boomerang” and “See It Through” show off a deeper-blue hue and richer songwriting.

Sam Cassidy, “Running Blind”

Like a modern-day Cormac McCarthy novel funneled through Neil Young and My Morning Jacket tunes, the Minneapolis Americana rocker’s ambitious, gritty concept album tells the story of a robbery through the different characters involved, none of whom is getting much out of life. Adding more drama on top of Cassidy’s rich, hardened voice and his band’s crescendoing power, songs such as “Struggle” might also have a thing or two to do with trying to make it in the music biz.

Dizzy Fae, “No GMO”

“I got somewhere to go,” the 20-year-old St. Paul native sings in “Lifestyle,” one of the more upbeat and poppy tunes on her unique and often eerily grooving second mixtape. The first of two collections on this list with Stand4rd and Young Thug producer Psymun’s subterranean stylings (see also: Dua Saleh), it alternates between a futuristic, sultry R&B zone and chillier electro-soul vibes, like a cross between Janelle Monáe and the XX. It sounds as if Dizzy Fae is still deciding which way to go musically, but there’s a take-me-with-you zeal.

Eleganza!, “Full Length”

After six steamrolling years of rowdy, raucous live shows following the demise of his prior group Chooglin’, Twin Cities garage-rock vet Brian Vanderwerf finally got his vaguely bluesy, lightly twangy, entirely visceral rock band down on record this year and didn’t disappoint. There’s an early ’70s Stones swagger in “Alabama Bound” and “Man on the Move,” early ’80s Replacements snarl and snot in “Big City Filth” and a timeless raw power throughout.

Nur-D, “Songs About Stuff”

Rapping about video games, comic books and insecurities instead of the usual macho braggadocio — yep, he’s a bit nerdy — Matt Allen probably hews closer to the average hip-hop fan than 99% of the other male rappers out there. His full-length debut boasts upper-percentile flow and wordplay skills, though (opening track “Tyler Breeze” is true to its name), with solid melodic hooks to boot (especially “You Got Me”). Playful hints of gospel and messages of self-love abound, too: part Chance and part Lizzo. - The Star Tribune

"The Coolest Nur-D Guy Around"

I won’t lie, hip-hop isn’t typically the genre of music that I gravitate toward. But local rapper Matt Allen, also known as Nur-D, started the show off in a way that held my attention.

Before he even took to the stage his DJ warmed the crowd up with a well-balanced mix, including samples from Minnesota’s own Prof. Part of me was really digging this DJ because I’m still not over how horrible Lil Wayne’s was last week, but he didn’t really need that extra boost as his mixes were well-composed.

Soon enough, Nur-D stormed the stage with incredible zest and took control of the room within seconds. The guy is just a happy, sassy, and effervescent dude who likes to make a lot of old-school geeky references in his music (hence, the name).

From Mario Kart to Harry Potter, to the WWE (yeah, I noticed the Bullet Club nods), Nur-D has a reference for any flavor of nerd you may be.

I look super hot right now, girl take my picture

His whole gimmick was carefree and fun, but I’ll admit, I felt a great deal of responsibility during “Take My Picture” as he sang out, “I look super hot right now, girl take my picture” and I realized I was the only woman in the room with a camera.

Not wanting to disappoint, I did just that.

Easily the best part of his set was when he brought out a brass section to aid him during “Gunshot Sounds.”

It became a full-on funky dance party at the points in the beat where it seemed like that sound effect should go instead, which is exactly the opposite of what you expect to happen when a song titled “Gunshot Sounds” starts play.

After his set, Nur-D could be found taking photos with fans and dancing along to the songs of the other artists on the tour. It was so genuine, and to have that same positive energy both on and off stage is beyond admirable.

With the deadly combination of Nur-D’s wit, charm, and talent, I can easily see this guy being the next Minnesota artist to blow up. - Music In Minnesota

"Picked To Click 2019"

Matt Allen is browsing the racks at Source Comics, an expansive emporium of role-playing games, action figures, and, of course, comics, tucked just off Snelling Avenue in the shadow of Rosedale. His sweater has a Batman logo; his glasses are square-framed and stylishly unstylish. He calls himself Nur-D and he dresses the part.

Allen didn’t start rapping till February 2018. Three months later, he was performing at Soundset. A year after that, his second album, Songs About Stuff, was getting rave reviews in the Strib. Now he’s a Picked to Click champ. Not bad for a guy who felt like he’d never fit into the rap world.

“I remember thinking, even as a black youth, that hip-hop wasn’t mine,” he says. “It wasn’t something that I could engage in because of where I grew up.”

Though Allen was born in the Bronx (no place hip-hoppier), he and his mom relocated to Rosemont when he was young. “Rosemont is just the whitest thing, upper-middle-class mostly, with the exception of a few places,” says Allen. “My mom had moved us to one of the nicer developments, but she worked four jobs, and we were still getting government cheese.”

Allen grew up between worlds, a black kid in a white burb (“I was stopped walking home from school more times by police officers than I’ve ever been stopped while driving”), a suburban kid visiting his grandparents in the Bronx.

“I watched a lot of TV and read a lot of comic books,” he says “I was an only child, so it’s not like there was much going on. When my mom was at work, that was what I did. That’s why it’s such a big part of my music.”

Gospel crossover artists Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond were as big a part of his musical diet as Outkast was. “We were in church as many times as the doors were open,” he says. Soon there was tension between his religious upbringing and his pop-culture obsessions. “The first time they told me Pokémon was the devil, I had no reason not to believe them. I was like, ‘Mom, we gotta get rid of all my cards,’ and she was like, ‘Uh, I paid a lot of money for those things.’” But Allen stood his ground when they preached that the X-Men were demons. “Nightcrawler is a devout Christian,” he explained to them. “I feel that you didn’t actually read the books.”

Allen dropped out of North Central University, a Christain school tucked away in Minneapolis’ Elliot Park, to focus on music. Desperate to get the word out about his band, Black Genesis, he came up with an odd plan: He would enter Go 95.3’s Shut Up and Rap contest, and once people were paying attention to him, he could tell them: “I’m in this band; everybody should come see this band.”

“I had been writing raps to deal with writer’s block, just to clear my head,” he says. And listening to more hip-hop, because more artists were rapping in a way that was connecting with him.

“I heard Childish Gambino rap about being the only back kid in his community, and Chance, rapping about church, and not being like a ‘church rapper.’ Here were these guys saying, ‘I’m a complex human being.’ All that made me realize: I can do this. There’s a spot for my voice in here. I can’t be the only one with this version of life, because if I’m hearing things that I recognize, maybe what I have to say, other people will recognize.”

Allen lost Shut Up and Rap, of course. But he went back, and then he won. And won. And won again, until he was retired from the competition.

Songs About Stuff is hardly as offhanded as its title suggests. Nur-D might sprinkle his rhymes with the sort of pop-culture references that get you shoved against middle-school lockers—“20 Cha” is basically the Dungeon Master’s Guide set to music—but he doesn’t whine in some sort of nasal cliché. And though he’s anti-macho he doesn’t project a false lack of confidence: As he boasts on “Tyler Breeze” (oh, yes, he’s obsessed with wrestling too), “I'm fllippin’ gorgeous,” while a line like “I wear XXL because a large is too tight” comes off like a boast.

The album’s tracks are richly melodic, with a lot of squishy keys, flowing into straightforward soul and R&B on several songs. Lyrically, Nur-D gets introspective on “Sincerely Yours,” which addresses his strained relationships with his largely absent father and depressed mother. And it gets baroquely goth on “The Epilouge,” [sic] a sequel to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” where the triumphant fiddler faces lynching for communicating with Satan.

Allen doesn’t drink or smoke, and he keeps his language G-rated while rapping. He’s not a goodie-goodie—he just knows who he is. “I’m not a traditional rapper in the sense that I’m going to be doing boom-bap 16 bars, have some lady come in and sing the chorus,” he says. “I’m weird.” - City Pages

"Nur-D embraces comics, video games and insecurity to be Minnesota hip-hop's new superhero"

Nur-D’s comic-book hero analogy #1: “I felt like Peter Parker in Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man 3’ movie, when he gets the black suit and walks around acting like he’s all cool and badass. It just made him look all the nerdier.”

Matt “Nur-D” Allen didn’t have to look far while browsing the long aisle of new issues at Source Comics & Games in Roseville — his favorite store — to think up a comparison to his short-lived rock band.

“We were trying way too hard to be cool, and it was obvious we weren’t,” he said of Black Genesis, which called it quits in 2018.

That’s when the 29-year-old Rosemount native decided to embrace his nerdiness, like Peter Parker putting on his old red superhero suit again. It’s also when he finally decided to step out as a rapper, a talent he avoided showing off earlier, he said, “because I didn’t want to do what was expected of me.”

“As one of the only black kids growing up in Rosemount, everybody expected me to rap and beatbox,” he said.

Two years since his transformation into the fun-loving but mindful rap star Nur-D, Allen has unexpectedly turned into one of the most buzzed-about newcomers in Minnesota hip-hop.

Two years since his transformation into the fun-loving but mindful rap star Nur-D, Matt Allen has unexpectedly turned into one of the most buzzed-about newcomers in Minnesota hip-hop. He's shown at Source Comics in Roseville.

With a melodic flow and hopeful, gospel-infused outlook à la Chance the Rapper, he won Go 95-FM’s Shut Up & Rap contest four weeks in a row in early 2018. That led to a slot at the Soundset festival before he even had enough material to fill it.

Allen has since gained critical accolades for his infectious debut album, “Songs About Stuff,” issued last June. He won City Pages’ Picked to Click newcomers poll in November and opened for Brother Ali on tour in December. Now he’s headed back to First Avenue to top the club’s annual Best New Bands showcase Saturday.

As swiftly as Nur-D has come into vogue, what’s more remarkable is how proud he is of not being cool.

“Songs About Stuff” is loaded with stuff straight out of his, yep, nerdy lifestyle. His fantastical references to comic books and video games — and emotional lines about body positivity and family drama — actually seem way more real-life than the usual male rapper machismo that still dominates mainstream hip-hop.

“One of the reasons I didn’t become a rapper to begin with is because all you ever heard on the radio were guys saying how tough they are, how big their [genitalia] is, how much women are into them,” he said. “That was never my thing.”

• • •

Nur-D’s comic-book analogy #2: “Superman is more relevant than ever. His nemesis is this crazy-rich, super-capitalist billionaire who bullies people. He was an outsider, an immigrant kid raised in the middle of America. He was rooted in this old world that he never really knew, and he adapted to his new world and set out to help it.”

Allen said he grew up “on the white side of Highway 42” in Rosemount (a southern Twin Cities suburb) and actually felt pretty comfortable there. However, reality would rear its ugly head every once in a while.

“I’d hear things like, ‘I can’t date you while my grandma is alive,’ ” he said. “They would say it to my face, which almost made it worse.”

A single child, he credits his mom for “working her keister off” to provide for him, but he said she struggled with mental health issues amid the demands. He didn’t even meet his dad until high school.

Those uneasy relationships with both parents are powerfully explored in “Sincerely Yours,” one of his album’s most riveting tracks and a reminder how — even with his fun-loving, sometimes cartoony persona — Nur-D very much has a serious side.

He also showed off that side in “Take My Picture,” a highlight from 2018’s “Mixtape 2: Electric Boogaloo,” which recounted his insecurities of growing up a plus-size kid.

“Men don’t talk about self-image issues at all,” he said. While proudly latching onto the Lizzo-led positivity movement in hip-hop, he notes that “guys also need to be told to love themselves the way they are. I never heard that growing up.”

No wonder Allen sought escape in comics, superheroes and video games as a kid. He also found solace in music. While hip-hop was a big part of his upbringing, so was gospel music and — go figure — ’70s and ’80s classic rock.

On the gospel end, he said, “We went to church anytime the doors were open. I had that music in me, the cadence of it, the hands in the air, the call and response.”

As for the hair-band influences, celebrated in his song “Feelin’ the Kiss,” he credited/blamed that on the fact that KQRS 92 was often the only FM radio station with a clear signal that reached his exurb. But he also loved “the pageantry” of bands like Kiss, Queen and Def Leppard.

“They had the cool costumes, the big hair, the over-the-top music videos,” he said. “They were basically the comic book version of rock ’n’ roll.”

• • •

Nur-D’s comic-book analogy #3: “I loved the Flash growing up, because I was a slow kid and he was fast. But I identify with him now because he found a lot of different ways to be a superhero with only that one great ability.”

Allen understands now he was meant to rap, but he said, “I think my broader role is to be an entertainer.”

He’s also taken on side projects, including a musical he hopes to stage, as well as his own comic book series. He also has another big endeavor coming up: In April, he will marry his fiancée, Sarah, who he said encouraged him to give up a full-time job with an orthopedics clinic so he could tour.

“I’m all in: full-time musician,” he proudly noted, but added with a laugh, “There’s a danger I might wind up playing video games all day every day.”

His budding success as Nur-D should prevent that. He’s working on a festive mixtape with ample guest collaborators alongside a new album that’s more personal. He’s also been ramping/amping up his live band, adding a horn section that makes his uplifting songs all the more buoyant.

Best New Bands

When: 7 p.m. Sat.

Where: First Avenue, 701 1st Av. N., Mpls.

Tickets: $10-$12,

While some of his bandmates also played with him in Black Genesis, Allen said there’s no chance of him going back to being a faux rocker.

“I learned not to care what other people think, and to make music that’s for me, about me and true to me,” he said. “There’s a freedom in that, and I’m finding it really, really exciting.”

So are the rest of us nerds. - The Star Tribune

"Nur-D: The Comic Book Loving Rapper that Wants to Take You to Space Camp"

Matt Allen, more familiar to his fans as Nur-D, met me at a St. Paul café proudly sporting the Flash symbol on both his shirt and hat. This uniform is integral to Nur-D’s image, one informed by comic book heroes and professional wrestling. Allen is quickly on the rise in the Twin Cities’ music scene with his new brand of hip-hop, one that is, well, nerdy.

Matt Allen was resting at home on a Sunday night when he received a congratulatory message from a friend. Attached to that message was a photo taken of an article music writers from the Star Tribune, the Twin Cities’ most prominent newspaper, had published that morning. Allen rushed out of bed to the nearest newsstand to pick up a copy. Upon opening, he saw his name and his self-released debut album, Songs About Stuff, listen amongst the “10 Best Minnesota Albums of 2019 So Far,” a list he shared with Dua Saleh, Dizzy Fae, and the latest posthumous release from Minneapolis’s favorite son, Prince. “It’s one thing to make a song that your friends like, it’s even one thing to make a song that strangers like … it’s another feeling entirely to have someone whose job it is to look at music and say ‘wow, this is really good,’” Allen stated. For him, it lends credibility to the affirmation he had been receiving prior. It was not all just hype. He still keeps that article on his nightstand as a reminder.

Photo by Andy Hardman
Photo by Andy Hardman

No stranger to recent success, Nur-D had been collecting accolades and accomplishments even before the Star Tribune article, including doing an in-studio session at The Current, Minnesota’s independent focused radio station, as well as playing at First Avenue’s smaller stage, the 7th Street Entry. One achievement of special note, however, would be his performance at Soundset Festival, a long-running annual Minneapolis event dedicated to hip-hop. It’s one of the largest of its kind in the country. “Soundset was 100% the thing that proved to me that I was on the right path,” he explained. “I had people come up to me and say ‘we were going to see Wu-Tang Clan, but we heard you and stopped and stayed here instead. That was beyond comprehension.” That year he shared the stage with names such as Eykah Badu, Tyler, the Creator, and Migos.

Nur-D performs 'Black Wizard Wave,' heard on The Local Show and recorded live in the studio of The Current.

Notably of course, his outward aesthetic paying tribute to his favorite superheroes plays into his unique persona as an artist. “With great power comes great responsibility,” the famous line from the Spiderman series is what Allen claims to be the very first scripture he ever learned. But there is much more to Nur-D than his references and whimsical outfits. He sees himself existing outside of the accepted realm of braggadocio and machismo often associated with hip-hop. “Today the myth of the untouchable macho-man is slowly crumbling away,” he observes. Nur-D often tells his supporters that he is their “seventh favorite hip-hop person,” a statement far from the boastfulness you’d expect from a performing MC.

Nur-D looks at Tyler, the Creator, most specifically his latest project IGOR, a self-reflective hip-hop album that stands as a direct rejection of the tough guy rapper archetype. “I didn’t feel the need to pretend to be this hard, gangster person,” Allen said. “For a lot of people, that is genuinely who they are, and that’s dope. But I’m just not that guy… there is nothing that I can say about that particular version of the world and life that has not already been said or could be said by someone better than me.”

Sonically, Nur-D wields a jovial, melodic flow that he attributes to his early gospel roots singing in churches and choirs. “I think a lot of hip-hop and gospel are more intertwined than people realize,” Allen says. “It’s not even being part of a faith system necessarily. It’s about how the cadence came out.” In gospel church settings, it is custom to give testimonies, a pronouncement of something good or something perceived as miraculous in one’s life experiences. A lot of times in the heat of emotion, according to Nur-D, that can come out very rhythmically. “’Straight Outta Compton’ is testimony. Even something like ‘Dear Mama’ is a testimony. You don’t have to be a singer to be a gospel person.” While showing of his pure rapping chops, Nur-D, like off the track “Rebecca” off of Songs About Stuff, can find compelling ways to also dive into soulful balladry.

During his high school years in Rosemount, Minnesota, Matt would hang out with his brother and friends who would engage in friendly, low stakes rap battles. He found, learning through proximity from his hip-hop loving friends, that he had a knack for rapping. In college, Allen served as the lead vocalist and keyboardist for a rock band. Writing for that band, he would often work with hip-hop beats because he found that to be the most efficient way to get words out on paper. When Allen’s band dissolved, Matt knew he did not wanted to be part of another. At the same time, he also was fully aware that music was all that he wanted to do. “When you are in a band, you have to make sure everyone is running in the same direction,” according to Allen. “In hip-hop, the only person keeping you from being yourself is you.” Honesty is a calling card for Nur-D, and hip-hop, he believes, is the best medium to present his pure self.

While still fronting his band, and without telling anyone, Matt Allen entered into an open-mic rap competition put on by a Minnesota based hip-hop radio station. Prior to that night, he had never rapped in front of anyone before. He did not win the competition that night, but he got to meet and talk with Mr. Peter Parker, a longtime voice in Minnesota hip-hop who had been in attendance. Parker instilled in Nur-D some inspiring advice, to not only be hungry and dedicated, but to lean more into a character and a defining persona. Parker compared Allen to Missy Elliot. The next season of the competition, Nur-D returned and won five straight times. He was winning so much that the organizers of the competition told him that he could not compete anymore.

When considering character and how it plays into his own music, he looks to his love of hard rock and glam metal, bands including Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, and Night Ranger. “It was all about the spectacle. It was about giving the people to escape into, not just listen to,” Allen explained. “I think there was a backlash to the spectacle, but we are in a day and age where that is going to be more appreciated.”

Although not associated with hard rock, Matt Allen considers the funk legends Parliament-Funkadelic to be the best at putting on a spectacle for audiences. “George Clinton pretty much thought he was an alien,” I joked to Allen. “He IS an alien,” he responded. “That man is in outer space right now.”

Within Nur-D’s music, he looks to implement elements of subtlety and subtext in a subversive fashion, and he finds that inspiration from comic books. “One of the things that Stan Lee did,” Allen begins to explain, “is to tell the story of the black experience in America to white people, not letting them know that’s what they are doing. This got [white readers] hooked on the idea of fairness and equality.” According to Allen, these ideas of justice are what the X-Men series is truly about. “This is what I want to do with my music,” he adds.

Nur-D’s latest single “You Suck (Be Better)”

Most recently, Allen is riding off of the recent release of his single “You Suck (Be Better).” The entire song was written in a day after he was overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions. Nur-D talks about a lost friend, one previously involved in the local music scene, one that Allen explains had hurt many women that he had been in contact with. “I started to question a lot. I started hearing stories from the women that were affected and friends who were affected,” he explains. “I woke up and said ‘I want to write about this.’” At this point in his career, Nur-D looks to make music that can enact social change. “My music has allowed me to gain a certain amount of fans that respond and listen when I say things. This felt like one of those things I could speak to … I’m glad that the commentary on that version of male predatory behavior is out there.”

Nur-D, still relatively new to the hip-hop community but quickly ascending, still has a lot he is aiming for. He sums it up best when he states, “I don’t want to lose another Stan Lee or another Prince before I can meet them.” While he has become a mainstay at the 7th Street Entry, Nur-D is passionate about soon headlining the main room of First Avenue, the iconic space that Prince christened in the film Purple Rain. But in the immediate future, Nur-D is excited to record and release his live vinyl record being put out by Solsta Records, a Minneapolis based record store. That is set to come out in November.

On social media, Nur-D often tags his post with #SpaceCamp. This is highly symbolic of Nur-D’s past and present. When Matt Allen was younger, he always dreamed of attending space camp, but never had the opportunity to go because of growing up too poor. “As I got older I said to myself, ‘I can make other things my space camp,’” Allen passionately states. Through his music, he can now live that dream vicariously. Playing a benefit show at a local brewery, Nur-D was able to raise money for kids to attend space camp who could not afford it. “I’m living my dream. This is about to be space camp for me, and it can be space camp for you,” Allen says with a wide-eyed mysticism. “We are going to experience something that people said we never would be able to do.” - Dankmuskrat

"Nur-D is living the dream"

Many of Nur-D’s lyrics are about positive energy and proving his doubters wrong.

After years of grinding, rhyming and writing songs, the 2009 graduate of Rosemount High School feels like he’s finally making it and he’s pumped.

His bright smile and big nerd glasses graced the cover of the City Pages last week as he was chosen as Minnesota’s Best New Musical Act.

He’s a five-time Go95.3 “Shut Up And Rap” champion. He performed at Soundset Festival, an annual Minnesota hip-hop event, in 2018.

He made an in-studio performance for The Current. His album “Songs about Stuff” was named one of the “10 Best Minnesota Albums of 2019 So Far” by the Star Tribune.

He’s about to tour with MC Chris next month and Brother Ali in December.

And he’s bringing the spirit of Rosemount with him.

“I always tell people, if I ever get a tour bus, it’s going to be blue and gold because this is where I come from,” he said. “It’s what I represent.”

Nur-D moved to Rosemount with his mother the summer before he entered sixth grade.

He was known to his Rosemount Middle School classmates as Matt Allen – a kid who liked video games, music and movies.

A longtime employee at Marcus Theaters and devout Leprechaun Days attendee, Rosemount is in his heart and in his lyrics.

His time in Rosemount, good and bad, has served as an inspiration.

“Rosemount had so many positives,” Nur-D said. “I was a one of the bigger black kids so there was definitely going to be some disconnect in some spaces. There were some challenges, but I had some great friends and some teachers were really positive.”

Nur-D credits Steven Albaugh, head of the choral and vocal program at Rosemount High School, for directing his path.

“He was the best mentor and teacher I ever had really,” Nur-D said. “When I came out here it was just me and my mom. I didn’t really have a positive male figure in my life either. He did so much to point me in the right direction.

“I was this hyperactive, weird kid. Instead of throwing me in detention, he helped me cultivate a passion for music.”

A pair of Rosemount graduates regularly share the stage with Nur-D, as well. His band features Skyler Pratt and Josh Pratt.

“They played with the Rosemount marching band so they know all about that showmanship,” Nur-D said.

Following graduation, he first put together a pop-rock band called Black Genesis, but “it didn’t really work out.”

He gave hip-hop a shot and Nur-D was born.

“It just blew up from there,” he said. “I won a bunch of those Shut Up and Rap contests and got invited to Soundset. It was crazy.”

He’s released two albums: “Songs About Stuff” came out earlier this year, and “Mixtape 2: Electric Boogaloo” was released in 2018.

His roots were the subject of many rhymes.

His song “Glorious” has a lyric about getting his name and photo in the local paper.

“It was for a song I wrote for OnStage (an annual review theater show at RHS),” Nur-D said.

“Hometown” is specifically about Rosemount.

“It was a really fun song,” he said. “It was pretty early on. I think it’s only on Youtube now, but that’s all about Rosemount.”

His track “42” is a reference to County Road 42 that flows through Rosemount.

And who wouldn’t want to go to their 10-year class reunion with two successful hip-hop albums to talk about?

Last summer he caught up with many former classmates, who said they had his all albums and went to his shows.

“How many people tell you they’re going to make it big when they’re in school?” Nur-D said. “It’s a validation of senior year saying I’m going to be a musician. It honestly felt like things came full circle. It’s been a real big blessing.”

He said he knew people in high school that were “just talented, if not much more.”

“If anything, it was nice to be able to come in and say I did exactly what I said I would do,” he said. “But it was a lot of hard work. It was a lot of luck, too. There was a willingness to risk it. To not be comfortable all the time.”

How would he know if he truly made it?

“One of my goals is to be famous enough to be on the Irish Update (an RHS student-run television/web show),” Nur-D said. “I used to do Irish Update. It would be so cool to be on the other side.”

It’s about to get a lot crazier for Nur-D.

He’s doing a live vinyl recording with Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Band Nov. 16 at SolSta Records in Minneapolis.

After that he’s going on tour with MC Chris for shows in Florida, California, Arizona and California.

In December, he’s joining up with Brother Ali for a Midwest tour that includes a Dec. 19 show at First Avenue in Minneapolis. - Sun This Week

"Feelin’ Nur-D: The Minneapolis rapper blending geek culture, activism, and pro wrestling to keep MN hip-hop weird"

Feelin’ Nur-D: The Minneapolis rapper blending geek culture, activism, and pro wrestling to keep MN hip-hop weird
August 29, 2019 by Marla Khan-Schwartz, The Current

If you ask Matt Allen, known on stage as hip-hop artist Nur-D, how he’d describe himself, he would tell you that he is weird, your seventh favorite hip-hop person, and then declare himself a nerd. Vocal about his love for comics, professional wrestling, video games, ’80s hair metal bands, and superheroes, Nur-D creates his music around things that he considers “nerdy,” as well as his own life experience and value-based ideas.

“I’m a weird dude,” he says. “I’ve always been weird. I think it is because of some of the interests that I’ve held. Now, a lot of the stuff is mainstream—comic books, superheroes, and half of Comic-Con itself. All of our media is dominated by things that at one time were not cool for everyone to like: professional wrestling, video games, comics. I’m just an odd duck. I enjoy that about myself. Every artist is a little weird. Anyone who’s like, ‘I’m going to write about my feelings for a living,’ is a little weird.”

Prior to launching his career in hip-hop, Nur-D was part of a local pop-rock group called Black Genesis. “We weren’t like a heavy metal band or anything,” he explains. “But Black Genesis—we wanted to be like Genesis, but if Phil Collins was black. It was really dope.” Eventually, the group disbanded because members began to have different ideas for the direction of their music.

When Nur-D started to change his ideas and style in music and performance, he at first was apprehensive about his race defining what type of genre he should pursue.

“I think a lot of my hesitation after I did it, was that growing up in Rosemount, Minnesota, after moving from New York, and being one of 12 black people around, everyone assumed I was just going to do hip-hop because I was black,” says Nur-D. “Part of me was fighting that stereotype by doing rock ’n’ roll a little longer than I should have. You can’t just label me because I am black. I happen to like hip-hop and it’s not because I am black. It’s because I like it.”

Influenced mostly by gospel music and artists like Andre 3000, Childish Gambino, Jaden Smith, Chance the Rapper, Fred Hammond, and Jacob Collier, the emerging rapper began performing hip-hop for the first time in February 2018. A few months later, he was invited to perform at Soundset after winning Shut Up and Rap four times in a row.

“To be on the same bill as Atmosphere, Tyler the Creator, Wu-Tang Clan, and Erykah Badu—it was wild,” he says. “Just to know that people came by and said, ‘We were going to go to Wu-Tang Clan, but we stopped so we could see you instead.’ That blew my mind.”

After his performance at Soundset, Nur-D began paving his path in the hip-hop world by creating his own style.

“I was going to do hip-hop as hard as I could and how I wanted to do it,” says Nur-D. “I don’t do things the same way that everyone else does. I don’t want to be bogged down by any kind of genre constraints. If I want to do a ballad on my album, I’m going to do a ballad, and it won’t have any rapping in it at all. If I want to do a straight boom-back, no chorus, no hook, bunch of punch-line bars, I’ll do that too.

“I can be myself,” he continues. “I can dance. I can feel myself and how I look right now. I feel attractive about myself. It is funny because that is not traditional hip-hop. There are hard lines in hip-hop and I’m kind of wavy.”

Not only has Nur-D come up with a style of his own for his music, but he passionately implements his ideas and values about certain issues and life experiences into his songwriting and lyrics.

“I have a song, ‘42,’ about being young, black, and living on the white side of 42, which is the county road that goes right in-between Rosemount,” he says. “We were living on the white side. I remember walking home from school a lot. I have been stopped more times by the police walking home from school than I have ever been stopped in a car, just because I looked like I was going somewhere where I wasn’t supposed to be. I remember thinking, man, this is real.”

Placing importance on creating a platform for more community discussions and change, Nur-D also wants more conversations created around toxic masculinity in music.

“Music and art influences culture, which influences the lives of people, which influences everyone,” he says. “If the top-selling song is ‘Smack That Ho,’ that is going to trickle down into someone feeling it is okay to put their hands on somebody because we are acknowledging that. The person being paid millions of dollars up on stage is singing that they can do all of this stuff to women and they don’t care. It is hard to have a culture where women, men, and the LGBTQ community are important when all of the language that influences the culture says the opposite.”

As for his own feelings on personal worth and self-esteem, Nur-D reflects on his desire to embrace who he is and perform music based on self-love and body positivity.

“I am a bigger guy, which led to a lot of my music now being about that,” he says. “I was told in my formative art years, ‘Hey, you’re going to have to drop 40 pounds if you want to make this happen.’ This happened multiple times in the ‘industry,’ but it started when I was young and learning. I was insecure.

“My self-esteem is not built in me, it’s built in the things I have been able to entrust it to—that being my God, my friends, my fiancée, and my art,” he continues. “I don’t care if people attack me, because I’m like, I am weird, you are completely right, but I have all of these things.”

Besides his aspiration of being an advocate for musicians, Nur-D also supports organizations like Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ+ community, and recently performed at a benefit for Sota, a fellow musician arrested by ICE. He associates his brand with supporting these organizations and communities and is picky about who he will perform for based on their values.

“I have been very calculated as to who I associate myself with because if they are cool with this stuff, I am happy to do that, and if they are not, I just don’t feel like it is worth it,” Nur-D says. “Not just from a business perspective and bad marketing, but I don’t want to seem associated with something I would not be associated with on my own.”

Nur-D’s latest album, “Songs About Stuff,” was recently named one of the top 10 albums of the year so far by the Star Tribune. The album is comprised of songs reflecting his deepest feelings surrounding trauma, ups and downs, relationships, and what he describes simply as “stuff.”

“If someone asked, ‘What is Nur-D about?’ I would hand them this and say, ‘All the things on here—you will get a pretty good idea,’” Nur-D says about the newly released album. - The Growler Magazine


"Insert Catchphrase Here: "
"Mixtape 2: Electric Boogaloo"
"Songs About Stuff" 



Nur-D is a hip hop act for the next generation.With a mix of upbeat pop culture punchlines, surprising emotional depth, and a devil may care mind set towards breaking convention; Nur-D brings his unique style to every occasion.His ability to make you dance, laugh, and groove only matched by his talent for crafting heartfelt and honest moments of reflection. Having only started hip hop in February 2018 the sky is the limit for this hot new artist. Hitting stages with acts such as Atmosphere, Tyler the Creator, Migos, and the Wu Tang Clan. Also opening for acts such as Grieves, Buddy, Ginuine, and touring with Brother Ali. You never know what "Your 7th Favorite Hip Hop Person" will do next but there’s a good chance it will be too sweet.

Band Members