Hoodie Allen: Leap Year
The first I heard Hoodie Allen was 2010’s Pep Rally. His song “You Are Not A Robot” really caught my ear. I’ve been keeping my eye out for him ever since, and with good reason. Though his style can seem a bit hokey, or more appropriately “white”, I still think he has the talent to be a mainstream success. Hoodie isn’t nerd rap, or geek rap, or anything that puts him in a dark corner of the rap world. He is, however, fond of using pop culture in metaphors and similes to make his point known. Last year’s work proved to be a bit too predictable in terms of where he was going. Too much emphasis on fitting in witty rhymes took away from the album’s overall effect. It certainly seems all that has changed.
Six months in the making, last Tuesday’s release of Leap Year literally left Hoodie unable to sleep at night. Having quit his job, Hoodie wanted to make the most out of Leap Year. As he says, “its me growing up on record”. The witty, pop culture referenced flows are still there. His upbeat, poppy delivery of the words remains. Even RJf is back to produce most of the tracks. What’s different is Hoodie’s vision of having grown up on an album. One listen, and it’s difficult to argue that Hoodie Allen is not a legitimate rapper.
Tracks like “The Chase Is On” only demonstrate how Hoodie’s delivery is light-hearted and fun while carrying a deeper message than just his ability to write witty lyrics. From what I can tell, the track has to do with a girl and the haters of Hoodie Allen. He raps, “Cause I am leap years every time you fall back to where you came from/Now where’d all the hate go?/Are you from Wu Tang, then where’s your face, ghost?/Bottle up my confidence and sell it by the case load/Take a bunch of optimists and drop em in the same boat/Ask em if that’s shit half full, half empty?” He goes on to reference someone naming a bunch of rappers but forgetting him. It shows how his previous work was open to much criticism, but thankfully he
didn’t take what they said as a reason to stop. No, he turned it into a reason to grow.
He continues making intelligent connections between pop culture and his life. He goes so far as to compare himself, on “You’re Welcome”, to Orlando Magic player J.J. Reddick. “I’ll be in the game eventually, cause I’m so JJ Redick/I am white, I got money/People wanna see me debted.” It draws upon the connection between basketball and hip hop. Two areas where being white actually hurts your chances of success and in each, it seems the white man and black man can’t have the same style. There should be no shame to that but Hoodie’s realistic here as well; he admits that he hasn’t made it….yet.
I think Hoodie analyzes his style best on the track “James Franco”. It’s catchy, it’s serious. It’s Hoodie. “Mark Wahlberg up this rap and shit, nevermind/Use a lotta famous people just to write some clever lines/Wonder if they’ll hear it, if they’ll ever notice.” He does use a lot of famous people. The track is even named after actor James Franco but that’s how metaphors and similes work; you pick something relatively well known and use it to describe your own unique, and special situation. It’s Hoodie’s technique, not by invention but by perfection.
The music is very good as well. Whether it be RJF, or one of the other DJs on the album, it’s the goods that complete the package. What Hoodie Allen has with Leap Year is his “graduation”, so to speak. He’s polished. He’s leveled up. He’s here. Though he isn’t signed, it’s hard for me to believe it won’t be a matter of time before he achieves his dreams on his own terms. If you want to hear good music, and get to know the real Hoodie Allen, you should definitely check out this mix tape. He’s made his way onto my favorite white rapper list, just under the Beastie Boys who top it. But more importantly, he’s made it onto my favorite rapper list. Congratulations to Hoodie. You deserve it.
MP3: Hoodie Allen “Soul On Fire”
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Hoodie Allen: Leap Year