NPR logo

03Fables (Feat. Chronixx)

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/468738006/468738704" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Songs We Love: Allan Kingdom feat. Chronixx, 'Fables'

Songs We Love: Allan Kingdom feat. Chronixx, 'Fables'

03Fables (Feat. Chronixx)

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/468738006/468738704" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Allan Kingdom Jonathan Mannion/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Jonathan Mannion/Courtesy of the artist

Allan Kingdom

Jonathan Mannion/Courtesy of the artist

One of the long-standing tenets of rap bravado is truth-telling. For an MC to be deemed "real," the stories he pens must be more than mere stories; they must be rooted in fact. Rap has often viewed verses as a house of mirrors, always reflecting one's reality even if, at times, the image is distorted. Saint Paul, Minnesota's Allan Kingdom isn't one for convention; he's a nonconformist and a stylist with malleable, half-sung flows, but he too subscribes to this particular principle. As a decidedly Bohemian, free-thinker type, his message is often clear: Be yourself and be honest about it.

Allan Kingdom, Northern Lights (Allan-Kingdom.com 2016) courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption courtesy of the artist

His recent mixtape, Northern Lights, explores this sentiment in many hues, seemingly taking sonic cues from the cosmos. Yet its anchor, "Fables", is an ominous, prowling tune less concerned with the Aesop variety, than with the complete obfuscation of truth. Over heavy, plodding electric piano keys and swirling, disembodied vocals that pass through the track like apparitions, Kingdom delivers straight talk about being true to oneself.He creeps through some cadences and stretches others, using one of the oldest parables to help paint his picture: "Cain and Abel since the cradle/ Couldn't hate or hurt my bro/ In a maze with all your tales/ I don't know which way to go." The voices wisp in and out as the air grows still around him.

The turning point in "Fables" is the spellbinding third verse, performed dutifully by reggae singer Chronixx with a resonant tone that's almost built for carving out echoes in this cavernous setting. His presence is more fleshed out than Kingdom's, and the contrast adds depth and perspective, providing small insights into being forthcoming: "Call a spade a spade and throw your cards on the table," he sings, swelling into a crescendo. But it is still the shape-shifting Kingdom who drives the point home with his own self-awareness: "Don't tell no fables, now I'm able/ I know, can't hit every note/ Yeah I know, but hit that feeling that be deep up in your soul." He seems to understand what many don't: the realness that makes the greatest impact is the absolute kind, a willingness to bare one's most intimate self, even when the effect is raw and not necessarily positive.

Northern Lights is out now on Allan-Kingdom.com.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.