Staff Thoughts: Hoodie Allen – All American [EP]
Many of our writers share similar taste in music. Because of this, there is sometimes a desire expressed by multiple writers to cover the same piece. And just as friends disagree over the quality of new music, so too does our staff. Staff Thoughts is a feature designed to accommodate these differences, and present a more rounded review for you, the reader.
April 10th: the day that All American hit iTunes in the United States– oh wait, never mind, it dropped an hour early last night. To the Hoodie Mob and Hoodie Allen‘s surprise, All American, the alternative rap mogul’s iTunes debut EP, began popping up on iTunes at around 11 o’clock last night. A collection of 8, polished, original tracks, All American has easily worked its way to the top of the iTunes’ charts since 11 o’clock last night– now sitting at #1 above all other iTunes albums.
What had originally begun as a nerdy, glasses donning phenomenon back in 2009 with Bagels and Beats and Making Waves, has expanded and been distilled into what all Hoodie fans know and love today. The artist had originally caught fans’ attention with unconventional, carefully chosen sample choices, which he begun tapping and reworking with his producer RJF from nearly the beginning of his career. The business strategy eventually proved successful, leading to an explosion in attention in 2010, when he released his hit song, “You Are Not A Robot,” which sampled Mariana & the Diamonds’ “I Am Not A Robot.” The track had savaged the hype machine, receiving, collectively, nearly 17,000 likes, and popping up on over 50 blogs. The song was track #5 on Pep Rally– the second of Hoodies’ three mixtapes– and it represented all that Hoodie had sought out when he first decided to start producing music: a reason to keep going. Pep Rally‘s indomitable success propelled Hoodie into the future with power-driven ambition, and in 2011 the guy was dropping yet another freebie: Leap Year, a 13 track, sonic metamorphosis that nearly redefined Hoodie– tone and theme wise. The freebie had showcased a more mature, refined rapper, whose unforeseen growth had sent him plummeting down the rabbit hole in a feverish haze, in search of a voice. In all that Hoodie had changed from Pep Rally to Leap Year, though, the change appears infinitesimal in comparison to the overhaul that All American gleams with in garish appeal.
All American is beautiful. But that’s not all it is– it’s unique, and for the first time, free of samples. All the production is courtesy of RJF, and all the lyricism is strictly Hoodie Allen, except on “No Faith in Brooklyn,” in which Jhameel, a California Pop singer, handles the hook. Still, even more than that, All American, represents a shift in the ground beneath the music industry. Having taken iTunes charts by storm, landing #1 on both the Hip-Hop/Rap and All Categories charts, Hoodie’s All American proves that you don’t need a fancy, too-large-to-actually-care-about-you record label, to succeed in the music industry; with a set of loyal fans and a natural capacity for producing good music, anything is possible.
Opening with “Lucky Man,” Hoodie Allen welcomes you to the album with open arms. With a rippling instrumentation, an outrageous collection/ understanding of pop culture, and a smooth tone, Hoodie Allen proves that his style hasn’t strayed too far from the usual (for instance, the deluge of constant popular culture references), but, all the same, proves that this isn’t the Hoodie that meandered onto the scene back in 2009. With a massive hook that fades into EP single, “No Interruption,” your eyes nearly glaze over in excitement. “No Interruption” starts off with a ghoulish cry that transitions into snappy-lip wordplay from Hoodie Allen, and though you have no idea what’s going on at first, when the bass hits at around 20 seconds in, a mirthful grin’ll spread so hard across your face that you’ll need a warm washcloth to relax your deadlocked facial muscles later on. The track’s piano melody is certainly memorable, and the swift lyricism is so smooth you could wipe it on an eggo.
Unfortunately, the third track of the album, “Eighteen Cool,” doesn’t land anywhere near this writer’s top three favorites list. Whether it’s because it’s too sugary or inspirational, I don’t know, but it just doesn’t land home for me. Moving forward on the album we encounter “Top of the World,” a braggadocio-driven masterpiece that balances success with levelheadedness. With lines like: “Get up on my level / where you at, bitch?” and “Went from workin’ at Google to watching my Google Alerts/ Now, got a buzz bigger than Google Earth,” you can’t help but cock your head in discomfort and malaise. But then, of course, Hoodie’s egalitarian side breaks through: “We makin’ money right now, so let me give it all out.” And at that point you realize this is no Kanye-hearted Hoodie, but rather the man who takes his time to tweet back at every single one of his fans, who called nearly all the people that bought his album, and who writes letters in wholehearted appreciation to his entire fan base.
On the rest of the album– but more specifically– “No Faith in Brooklyn,” “High Again,” and “Ain’t Gotta Work,” Hoodie delivers some of his finest lyricism ever. He lures the women in with “No Faith in Brooklyn”– a track that could easily dominate the radio waves– and drools creativity on “High Again.” The hook is infectious, the flow is soporific and expansive, and the production is gorgeous. The album comes to an end at 8 tracks long with “Ain’t Gotta Work.” Hoodie’s voice slips across the piano-driven instrumentation like a wet noodle, and the chorus is simple enough to remember/ leave the track simple enough to fade towards a heartbreaking end. As the song comes to an end, you can’t help but feel your chest knot up in felicity; and you feel extremely happy for Hoodie Allen at the end of it all.
While not all the tracks on All American are wonderful, for an 8 track, $4.99 debut EP on iTunes, I’d say it’s close to perfect.
The long anticipated Hoodie Allen EP, All American, has finally hit the shelves. Hoodie has been working hard for a while now, trying to give his fans the best tracks that he could possibly manufacture. Hoodie is all about fan appreciation and dropping great new music is the most sincere form of appreciation.
All American is 8 tracks long- one song as catchy as the next. Hoodie does a great job in fusing his punch line-infused verses with his solid vocal choruses; you can’t expect much less from Hoodie. He is the master of the catchy chorus – and is on the verge of seeming like a pop artist – but he reminds everybody that he is predominantly a rapper when he drops his satisfying verses.
At an extremely close second to “No Interruption” comes “No Faith in Brooklyn.” Hoodie brings in Jhameel to sing a passionate chorus that connects all listeners to their roots. It’s impossible not to get emotional from this track.
For all of the pre-All American fans, be sure to listen to “Eighteen Cool,” “Small Town,” and “Ain’t Gotta Work.” These are the tracks that have a reminiscent feel alluding back to the lesser-known Hoodie. ”High Again” brings some new things to the table. Hoodie hasn’t been known for slow, ambient, trance beats, but he enters a new style of music in “High Again.”
Check out the new music videos for “No Interruption” and “No Faith in Brooklyn” below. Be sure to support Hoodie by buying All American here on iTunes. I can assure you that he appreciates it.
“No Interruption” by Hoodie Allen
“No Faith in Brooklyn” by Hoodie Allen