King B might be an entrepreneur, creative director, brand builder, screenwriter, actor, but he’s best known as a musician. Born Lawrence Neal Bolden, King B grew up in Pine Lawn in St. Louis County, an area known for poverty and high crime. He developed an appreciation for music from his family, especially his grandmother — a musician who played gospel and R&B — and his great-grandmother, who led a church that worshiped in their home.
Buzz was built around King B from the start, and a deal with RCA Records pushed him even further into stardom. He has been featured on platforms including MTV, Revolt TV and Complex and has collaborated on tracks with Rich the Kid, Lil Durk and Blac Youngsta, among others. With millions of streams on his first album Altar of broken hearts – featuring catchy singles such as “No More Crying” and “When They Need You” – his future is bright. Spiritually connected, King B has the ambition to change the world through love and music. Saint-Louis should be proud of what it stands for and who it helped to create.
the RFT reached out to the Los Angeles rapper to talk about how his St. Louis roots influenced his music and ambitions.
Who are you, where are you from, your family, can you give me an overview?
My name is King B and I am 22 years old. I grew up in Pine Lawn, a small community. Basically, growing up around that time, my dad was in prison, so I was back and forth between my mom and my grandma a lot. My grandmother taught me everything, made sure I had a musical liking. I’ve been dancing, singing, playing instruments, everything, since I was a kid. My mother wanted me to have a better education, so I started going to school in Hazelwood. I took the MetroLink from Hanley station to Hazelwood back and forth every day, having ups and downs with my mom. So, yes, it was tiring, but now we are who we are.
How did growing up in Pine Lawn, with its struggles, and having ups and downs with your mom and dad affect you, not just as an artist but as a man?
As a man, it has pushed me to build better homes, to bring talent to light in situations of poverty where no one comes to pick up the musicians or these talented artists, and that’s one of the things that I strives to do: to attract attention and provide resources to those who have none, to help them find the things they need.
What about the way you were raised that made you want to become an artist?
I always knew I wanted music. I started as a church interpreter. We had a church in our basement, everyone came to our church. I used to sing, praise, dance – all that. That’s when I discovered I had a thing for music, and then I learned different music from people and schools and realized my versatility, being able to imitate that I heard and to do it my way.
Speaking of versatility, when you first started making music, did you feel like it was difficult to express that and be accepted in the St. Louis music scene?
I want to talk about this, and I want my words to be quoted in exactly the same way: there is no possible way that I can show all that I can do, being from the community of which I am, because that we’re in a city where everyone’s so traumatized and everyone’s so worried about being judged and boxed creatively.
It’s up to me to make the bridge. I want to bear all the consequences. I want to take everything that comes with the abnormal that people aren’t used to seeing. So being from St Louis, it was difficult for me to show what I had hidden inside. My family knew that, but I had to give the city what it wanted, which is also a testament to my versatility. But I always knew that one day I could blossom and become what I really wanted to be. So I want everyone to know that I’m not crazy. Everything I do is for a reason, and there’s another meaning behind it.
I think that says a lot about you as an artist, that you’re able to adapt your style like that.
I am able to express every feeling, every emotion. I’m able to visualize myself in any situation, spiritually – even situations I’ve never been in – and turn it into art, and that’s part of being a sponge, soaking up everything. that surrounds me.
Does this refer to your spirituality and your ecclesiastical background?
My spirituality plays a role in everything I do. It constantly transforms me.
You were one of the first artists to break through the local scene and get bigger opportunities. How did it happen?
I realized that I had to make my connections. I had to be free, so I had to go. I went to California, where I was actually working on the same kind of music. Then I tapped into my spirituality more and started making the music I wanted to make, which turned into Heartbreak Hotel, my first album under RCA Records.
Did you do it alone or did you have someone to help you along the way?
Yes, I did it alone. I decided to leave after my tour with Rich the Kid. I decided to leave DCON Entertainment because I’m all about property.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.