“I be doing it for free until I’m rich, God bless” – Hoodie Allen
No one does indie rap quite like Hoodie Allen. I’m not normally a fan of either genre, but Hoodie, AKA Steven Markowitz, is one of my favorite artists and his mix tapes, Pep Rally (2010) and Leap Year (2011), are two of my all-time favorite free music finds.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, the Long Island native got a steady job at Google, which he left in order to pursue his music career full time. Hoodie released two LPs, Bagels & Beats and Making Waves, before garnering big attention with the Marina & the Diamonds sampling “You Are Not a Robot.”
Next came Pep Rally, produced by RJ Ferguson (legend) and released independently. The mix tape showcases Hoodie’s signature sound: joking pop cultural references interspersed with indie samples. Self-described as “New Hop” or “Hoodie Hop,” Hoodie’s sound is unconventional and a far cry from the white-boy rapping of Asher Roth or Mac Miller. Pep Rally is upbeat, clever, well produced, and Hoodie’s use of samples rivals Kanye’s to be honest. He’s the type of artist that will have you laughing out loud while wondering why you’ve never heard of him before.
Leap Year has the same vibe but ups the ante in terms of lyrics and production. The first track, “Song for an Actress,” samples Fitz and the Tantrum’s “Don’t Gotta Work It Out” and has Hoodie telling it like it is: “Every conversation’s just a chance for me to outwit/ Do you feel that little spark, outlet, ow shit.” There are some serious numbers, like “Every Time You Go” (listen for Ellie Goulding) and “Push You Away,” but for the most part, Leap Year is all about anthemic, fresh pop-rap sounds. Hoodie’s cheeky lyrics poke fun at everything in pop culture, from Skins to Twilight to Twitter trends. There’s even an ode to James Franco.
They say the best things in life are free. That must be true because both Pep Rally and Leap Year are gratuitous at http://www.hoodieallen.com/music/
Tracks to Download: “You Are Not a Robot,” “January Jones,” “Song for an Actress,” “James Franco,” “#Whitegirlproblems,” “The Chase Is On” and “Moon Bounce”
Bonus Freebie: Just because it’s hilarious, listen to Hoodie’s guitar player, Kyle Anthony, and his interpretation of Sisqo’s “The Thong Song.” Who knew that song could be good, right?