JAM: Hooked on Hoodie

by Mark Jacobo

It’s a great week for New York rapper Hoodie Allen. Not only has his album All American reached the number one spot on iTunes, but in just several days his following has become even stronger than it was last week.

At 23 years old, Hoodie—real name Steven Markowitz—is unsigned, but that’s not stopping him one bit. The rapper has built a loyal fan base that’s followed him since the beginning. Hoodie started rapping as a kid, a hobby that followed him through school at the University of Pennsylvania and during a short stint at Google working as an AdWords associate. Hoodie left his job at the search engine giant to pursue a career in music, which was a pretty good move. In fact, it wasn’t until Hoodie’s track “You are Not a Robot” reached YouTube stardom that the rapper decided it time to leave his desk job.

I’m pretty picky when it comes to hip-hop, but when Hoodie announced free downloads of his mix tape Pep Rally in 2010 via Facebook I couldn’t pass up the chance to score free tunes.

The result was poppy hip-hop; samples of popular music rapped over with catchy lyrics sung by a fresh faced rapper. The same could be said of All American. I am a sucker for all of those things, so naturally I succumbed to Hoodie Allen. I mean, it’s hard not to. Kid’s got talent.

The album’s opening track “Lucky Man” introduces us to All American pretty well. Drums, guitar and a fuzzy bass line accompany Hoodie’s pop-culture referencing lines, mentioning Jeremy Lin and Lana Del Rey.

“No Interruption”, the second song off the album and my personal favorite, has a kicking keyboard riff and an echoing harmony in the background. This is definitely the song that will get people hooked on Hoodie.

“No Faith in Brooklyn”, which features Jhameel on backing vocals, is another one of my favorite tracks.

Although only eight tracks, All American packs a bigger punch than you think it would. There’s a recurring theme in the album, which is to be the All American rapper. Hoodie is telling us how he’s doing just that—he’s the artist we need in the rap world. And he’s not riding a high horse either—Hoodie is always communicating with fans via Twitter, whether it’s thanking someone for a compliment or telling someone he loves them for supporting his album.

I sense a bright future for Hoodie Allen, and All American is only the beginning.