This week’s guest is Matt Allen, who you might know better as Nur-D. And if you don’t know Nur-D yet, you will soon. The Minneapolis-based rapper, singer, dancer, and all-around entertainer is poised for big things. The latest step of his ongoing journey to national notoriety is his just-released album, HVN (pronounced “heaven”), which will be celebrated tonight with a headlining performance at the legendary First Avenue. The new album and release show come after a whirlwind summer for Nur-D, which included a long run of festival appearances, significant shows, and even a performance at Gen Con. Long before he was a budding talent on the cusp of even bigger and better things as Nur-D, Allen was a theater kid who was fronting an indie rock band.

In advance of the August 19 HVN release/release show, Allen spoke to My First Band host Tyler Maas about his busy summer, what people can expect from the new album, and just how far he hopes to take Nur-D in the years to come. Of course, he also spoke about his past, including his move from the Bronx to the Minneapolis suburb of Rosemount when he was a kid, eventually having to choose between high school football and theater, his time in bands (3 Man Trio, Saving Vinyl City, and Black Genesis) in his late teens and early twenties, secretly entering a radio station’s rap competition and falling in love with hip-hop, and how he’s used his platform as an up-and-coming artist to fight for equality and raise funds for artists in his community.

My First Band is sponsored by Mystery Room Mastering, Lakefront Brewery, and Music Go Round Greenfield. The show is edited by Jared Blohm. You can listen to My First Band on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and wherever else you get podcasts. You can also listen to rebroadcasts of previous My First Band episodes on WMSE every Wednesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. CST. Music used in this episode comes courtesy of Devils Teeth (“The Junction Street Eight Tigers”) and NUR-D (“Black Sheep”).