Unlocking the partnership behind Kingdom Crumbs.

Being in a relationship is hard work; being in a band is like being in four relationships at once. The band dynamic is especially fraught—and especially rare—in the world of hip-hop, where the standard hierarchy of singer/guitarist/rhythm section doesn’t hold. Which is one of the reasons Kingdom Crumbs is exceptional.
The hyper-talented hip-hop crew is an egalitarian enterprise, four versatile, broad-minded MCs sharing a mic in the name of one unified vibe. Between Tay Sean, Mikey Nice, Jerm D and Jarv Dee, there’s no particular leader or frontman (though Tay Sean produced much of the group’s 2012 eponymous debut). Each contributes a distinct hue to the band’s languid, liquid palette—a sound indebted equally to ’90s Native Tongues, Shabazz Palaces and West Coast cosmic funk. They are, in fact, only one facet in a larger, loose-knit group of rappers, producers, DJs, artists and musicians called Cloud Nice—a collective that has sprouted leaves on nearly every branch of Seattle’s hip-hop family tree.

We talked to the four members of Kingdom Crumbs about why they hang together so well.

Tay Sean I’ve come into feeling like music is a way to grow spiritually. And that the process of creating music, of sharing it with people, is a spiritual journey. I don’t necessarily get that with everybody I collaborate with, but within this group that’s very much present. We are very communal people. Even if we wasn’t doing music, even if we were like a hockey team or something, we would fuck with each other on the same level.

Mikey Nice Music for me has been my greatest teacher, especially in this group. This is a microcosm for how I go out into the world—I’m able to communicate better, I’m able to problem solve more effectively, and it’s because of this group specifically. Our mantra is We riding on the strength. That means we’re always gonna figure out a way.

Jerm D That’s how hip-hop was built. With a little organization and communication, you can make something out of nothing. That’s what music and working with people is for. That’s what hip-hop is. We gotta take responsibility as artists to always let that shine through our music, because the music is the power and the voice of the people.

Jarv Dee You guys came up with great answers! That summed it up for me. I’m shedding a tear right now.

Photo by Chona Kasinger