"Living out philanthropy on the front lines"
Matt Allen is living out philanthropy on the front lines. The Minneapolis-based hip-hop artist, community organizer, and mutual aid worker—who uses the moniker Nur-D on stage— responds to the needs he sees around him. The community is at the heart of everything he does. As an artist, Allen describes his music as “hip-hop for everyone who has ever felt a little different.” As a philanthropist, he applies a people-first approach to redistribute resources to support and empower the community.
A native of Rosemount, Allen began his hip-hop career in 2018 after winning 95.3FM’s “Shut Up & Rap” competition—four times in a row. He has since released five full-length albums as Nur-D, including three in 2020: Trapped in my Room, 38th, and Chicago Avenue. The latter two are Allen’s artistic response to the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department. As protests bloomed and law enforcement action erupted in the wake of Floyd’s killing, Allen’s dedication to his community led him to another means of response and support: mutual aid.
Justice Frontline Aid is a mutual aid organization providing assistance, resources, and education to those putting their bodies on the front lines in the fight for justice. The community-based group, which Allen founded, arose organically in response to needs identified during the 2020 uprisings. It provides first aid, teaches tactics for safe and secure demonstrations, and delivers goods to communities in need. Allen and his work with Justice Frontline Aid has been featured on NPR, The Current, Fox9, and KARE11.
At the outset of the pandemic, Allen brought front line response to his work in the arts as well. When it became clear that performances, museums, and galleries would be closed due to the pandemic, Allen started MN Artists Relief to produce performances online and raise funds to support out of work artists. “I have a platform and recognition,” says Allen. “I have the power to do something. So if I see a need in my community, it’s my responsibility to act.”
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