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Hoodie Stays Strong in Sophomore Effort

Dan Brombach | Thursday, April 26, 2012

In an interview the night before the release of his new EP “All American,” rapper Hoodie Allen promised to personally call every fan that purchased the album in its entirety.

I would argue “All American,” an album fusing catchy, well-produced beats with Hoodie’s skilful wordplay and amusing pop culture references, is worth buying even if you have no interest in receiving such a phone call from Mr. Allen.

To all the students who attended this year’s SUB spring concert, I’ll be the first to admit Hoodie didn’t exactly blow me away. His flow sounded flat, his punch lines were off and it was difficult to hear him despite the fact few students had shown up yet, leaving Stepan Center emptier than the crowd at a WNBA game.

“All American” pushed this bad experience from my mind, however, giving me some great new songs I can’t wait to blast this summer.

Hoodie is at his finest in “No Interruption,” a highly entertaining song in which he and an unnamed woman arrange the “time and the place and the function” during which they will, um, engage in respectful conversation. You get the point.

The album’s third track “Eighteen Cool” is filled with the kind of great lines that made me a fan of his music in the first place. Rapping over a fairly simple beat, Hoodie takes a humorous stab at some kids from his old high school with whom he presumably didn’t get along very well. Throughout the song, he politely informs these kids they “peaked at eighteen” and that his success contrasts with their likely futures “bagging groceries.”

Hoodie takes a slightly more introspective approach in “No Faith in Brooklyn,” reflecting on his home of New York City and the implications of leaving it behind. The song’s intro, sung by Jhameel, contains the lyrics, “If I move out one day/It will make me a better man/But I don’t want to leave this place/No faith in Brooklyn.” Combine lyrical depth with a catchy, piano-infused beat and you have my favorite song of the album.

Listeners should be warned that Hoodie does some brief singing at points in the album. These segments aren’t terrible, but they can definitely be an awkward buzz-kill.

“All American” is an overall impressive effort from one of those most promising and hard-working rappers in the game today. Hoodie’s sound has certainly become more ‘party-friendly’ since his earlier mix tapes, but contrary to conventional hipster wisdom, artists who change their style are not necessarily struck by lightning or dragged to hell by a demon wearing a flannel shirt and skinny jeans.

Hoodie has come along way since “You Are Not a Robot” vaulted him to fame in 2010, and I can’t wait to see where his future will take him as he continues to grow and mature as an artist. For now, I’m content to just sit back and put his latest album on repeat.