Let’s recap: a former Google employee drops a job at the biggest company in the world to give us free jams packed with samples from our favorite indie bands. He’s the great communicator: go check his Twitter and Facebook. You’ll find thousands of folks in conversation with Hoodie Allen as he desperately tries to keep up and give back a little bit of the love he’s receiving today.
He’s also a rapper, if you didn’t know. After delivering multiple free mixtapes (all good), Hoodie Allen decided it was time to put his “Dreams Up” and see if he really had what it takes to be a successful artist in the cutthroat music industry. With no industry backing (read as: no record label to help promote or distribute, among other things) the man formerly known as Steven Markowitz decided to release a retail EP on the hope that all the good deeds and MP3’s he had given out would come back to him in the form of true support of his craft.
Somewhere between Pep Rally and Leap Year, Hoodie realized he didn’t need the gimmick of indie samples to carry his songs. As he became more comfortable he began to incorporate his singing voice to carry his choruses. Then came the release of “No Interruption”, which along with Leap Year’s “The Chase Is On” was the two track combination of Hoodie grabbing the rock and heading for the endzone.
After hearing “No Interruption” I was 100% sure that Hoodie was gonna nail this release.
First track “Lucky Man” has a liquid kind of beat (one of my favorite on the release) and jumps immediately into a chorus that only Hoodie could deliver; really, several of these tracks could only be done by this rapper – that’s what we’ve grown to expect from him. His style is definitely his own. It’s a testament to his unique feel for pop culture and his audience that is often overlooked by many artists. “No Interruption” has grown on me even more and is near eclipsing my old Hoodie standby “The Chase Is On”.
The third track, “Eighteen Cool” has some interesting production; it’s kind of an indie/folk tween riff with a clap rhythm combined into one eclectic beat. It’s definitely a divergence from 95% of hip-hop releases you’ll hear this year and is that much better for it. It’s definitely my least favorite of all the tracks, however. “Top Of The World” is about what you’d expect from the title (you can feel that Watch The Throne/Kanye style), but it does deliver another Hoodie Allen lyrical gem:
I went from working at Google to watchin’ my Google Alerts, now I got a buzz bigger than Google Earth
“No Faith In Brooklyn (feat. Jhameel)” is the undeniable gem of this album. If Hoodie hits the radio on All American, this will be the track that breaks that barrier for him. The chorus is delivered by Jhameel (listen to his solo work here) who is also another absolutely amazing indie artist. It is my sincere hope that the huge amount of attention Hoodie is gonna get for this album and track also greatly increases the profile of Jhameel – he damn sure deserves it. Combined with Jhameel’s awesome vocals, this is Hoodie Allen at his peak power as a pop and hip-hop artist – there’s not much more to say.
“Small Town” is the ass moving anthem you knew you’d find on All American. Then out of left field, “High Again” is another gem buried within the eight tracks. At first blush, you could write it off as just another love anthem but this is an interesting new direction for the rapper. The beat is absolutely chill with a thick warbling bass and the tiniest of keys peeking in and out of the background while the verse work finds him more laid back and maybe a bit more introspective and deeper than you’re used to hearing from Hoodie.
Closing track “Ain’t Gotta Work” has the same kind of vibe you’d find on one of my favorite Kanye cuts “We Don’t Care”. While it’s not quite on the level of “We Don’t Care” in my eyes, it’s a pretty solid track. It’s also the quintessential “I’ve made it” track, getting a few jabs in at the detractors and tossing out some love at his fans. Ultimately though, you can’t deny his logic. He’s right – he ain’t gotta work any more. He gave away free downloads of everything he ever released until last month and has progressed to sold out shows and now his first retail album release.
Like I said above, the first track on All American is “Lucky Man”. When Hoodie woke up this morning and saw that his album that just released a mere eight hours ago is the number one album OVERALL on iTunes beating out Of Monsters And Men and Nicki Minaj for the top spot, I wonder what he said to himself?
No label, no PR machine outside of music blogs like this one and word of mouth from listeners like you. Together we just broke the barrier.
Listen to the album below, then head to iTunes to pick up your copy.