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.