The rappers that grow from concrete are usually the ones that tend to surprise you. Something about their roots make them hard to get rid of. Matt Allenn knows a little bit about that. Ask the Santa Ana emcee the ingredients to his recent success and he’ll rattle off a list of life’s bitter nutrients that gave him the strength to keep his bars up behind bars.
Up until last year, getting into trouble with the law on a variety of petty charges was a regular occurrence.
“I was on probation, and it was really holding me back with that,” Allenn says. “I kept catching violations and getting arrested and at the same time I was getting the most attention I ever got for my music.”
It was during one of his former stints in the pokey that his song “Messy,” a woozy, trap-laced Lothario jam about a girl who has trouble keeping her X-rated exploits to herself, landed a placement in the Netflix movie #REALITYHIGH. Suddenly, the song took off and has since garnered over 330,000 plays on Spotify.
After serving several months in jail on drug charges, Allenn’s now a free man, off probation and jumping head first into 2019 as a changed man.
“That was really holding me back, having that over my shoulder was stopping me from moving forward,” Allenn says. “Now that I’m over that I’m making so much progress.”
His career over the last several years has seen the rapper transition from hardcore street rhymes to embracing a bit more introspective and positive vibes to his music, hence the title of his latest album FLOURIISH, released last November. To see him walking through a acid trip, Technicolor greenhouse in his latest video talking butterflies about feeding your positive mental attitude is a fry cry from where his life was less than a year ago. That struggle to stay free from sin is topic he discusses while being chased by a savage, CGI demon in his previous video “Streets and Thots.”
“I really wanted to have a message and show people that my music is maturing,” Allenn says. “It’s really just the start of what I’m about to do.”
Though he preferred to produce his album without many features, a consortium of Santa Ana’s finest wordsmiths is never far behind. Friends and frequent collaborators Kevin Parx and C-Sharp make cameos on the new project produced by his OC producers Mr. Mota and KY who worked with engineer Beezy Mix to put the shine on Allenn’s vocals, highlighting the cocky, gold grill swagger.
Part of Allenn’s evolution and celebration of his new album is his stage performance. Taking the stage next week at Slidebar, he’s excited to amp up his delivery atypical of most backpack rappers.
“I’m gonna be doing a live show with a full band so I’m looking forward to showing people what I can offer on stage as well,” he says. Allenn also plans to perform a few new tunes from his next EP, Close to the Edge, out in February.
As much as he likes talking about his own music, part of Allenn’s appeal on FLOURIISH is a message of helping to big-up other rappers in the scene where’s from.
“Santa Ana’s culture is getting more of a good vibe, there’s more art and music in Downtown and that’s where I record my music and it’s only a matter of time before it goes mainstream,” Allenn says, noting how OC-based rapper Yung Pinch has blown up over the last several years and cleared a path for a lot of talented rappers to get their share of the sunshine.
“There’s gonna be a few more people to follow him up,” Allenn says. “And I feel like it’s gonna be the new Hollywood out here, a big scene ready to explode.”
Matt Allenn performs with Kevin Parx, C-Sharp and K-Lien at Slidebar, 122 E. Commonwealth Ave. Fullerton (714) 871-2233, www.slidebarfullerton.com, Thurs. Jan. 31, 8 p.m., Free, 21+.