King Royal is a Hip-Hop artist hailing out of California’s Inland Empire (also known as the IE). King first entered the studio with his father when he was only a toddler. He began rapping when he was merely fourteen years old, realizing his talent through freestyling with his friends. Releasing his first project at sixteen, King has now been rapping for over ten years. I had the pleasure of speaking to him about his come-up, his vision, and his plans to make the Inland Empire a household name.
When King began to take rapping seriously, it was a different era entirely. “The term ‘SoundCloud rapper’ wasn’t even a thing.” Social media wasn’t prevalent, making King’s come-up different, instilling the “hustle” in him early on. He discussed with me the fact that he printed 500 copies of his first project on CDs, passing them through the halls at his high school. His dedication made people take notice, as not many adults were hustling as hard as he was at sixteen.
As King has continued to grow as an artist and in notoriety, he has kept his home close to his heart. The Inland Empire is especially important to King, as he described to me his issues with the area’s lack of exposure. The IE is only forty-five minutes from Los Angeles and is made up of over seventy cities with a combined population of over five million. How is it that such a large population of people can be in such a prime location without national recognition? King is looking to change this. With the popular Hip-Hop producer Hitboy also hailing from the IE, King is looking to lift the IE even further by becoming the face for people
back home to believe in. His passion for his home is radiant, branding his merch with the letters “IE” being prominently featured on items like the hat he wore for this interview.
“Seeing is believing.” Part of King’s vision for giving back to the IE comes in his label, Royal Diamonds Entertainment. RDE is a joint venture between King and his father, but King jokes that rather than being split 50-50, it’s 100-100, because they are both “giving their all.” An official LLC, RDE is a fully fleshed label with artists and a team backing them. RDE is effectively providing more opportunities for artists and creatives from the Inland Empire. Although King and RDE are synonymous, King says RDE is “deeper than rap,” because it’s “for generational wealth and legacy.”
When you hear King Royal’s music, you wouldn’t jump to conclude that he’s a California artist. With a wide range of inspirations, from all over the country and even outside of Hip-Hop, King channels his moods through his music, resulting in songs that are each individually unique. He described to me that there is intentionality in his sound and
that he never wanted to be “categorized.” King has a degree in marketing and has an amazing sense of brand awareness, evident in his videos and social media content. King also focuses on the importance of balance, both within his life and within his music. While album cuts may provide a personal look into King’s life, his singles channel energetic boastfulness, showing King as he is “walking like a king.” His single “Wholelottaguap,” with Philadelphia artist Lil Noodle, marked a moment of change in his career, going viral and resulting in a billboard that was featured in Los Angeles. According to King, “Wholelottaguap” “made the city take notice.”
His most recent single, “Big Ol Checks,” released in late April, has already amounted to over 200,000 streams on Spotify. “Big Ol Checks” has almost surpassed “Wholelottaguap” to become King’s biggest song to date, despite being released almost six months later. This could be proof of King’s remarks that people are beginning to take notice. His upcoming project “Empire’s Most Wanted” is not only King’s most anticipated project, but it is also the one that he has been working the longest on. Over two years in the making, King is excited to share his hard work with the world. Without leaking any specifics, King described the project as “giving a piece of himself” to his listeners.
If “Big Ol Checks” is any indication, 2022 looks to be an exciting year for King. Aside from working on the long-awaited “Empire’s Most Wanted,” King is hoping to begin a group compilation project amongst himself and the other artists signed to Royal Diamonds Ent. King is looking to lead RDE to the next level as the company and brand continue to develop and expand. Being so close to LA, King could take the easy route by claiming himself as a Los Angeles rapper. Rather than taking this easy route, King isn’t cutting any corners. Like he was when he was 16, passing out CDs in the halls, King is ever willing to put in the time, effort, and hustle to turn his dreams into a reality. By utilizing his dedication, passion, and the supportive team he has behind him, King is looking to become the face of the Inland Empire.
Listen to King here.