Hoodie Allen, ‘Crew Cuts': Rapper Opens Up In Exclusive Interview
Hoodie Allen has accomplished quite a lot at the young age of 23. From his Long Island roots to a permanent stay at the top of the underground music scene (ex: his All American EP topped the iTunes hip-hop charts last year), he is starting 2013 out with a bang.
With the release of his new mixtape, Crew Cuts, and a 28-date tour, he has quite a year ahead of him. He sat down with The BoomBox Monday night (Feb. 18) at his mixtape release party at The Griffin in NYC to talk about all things Hoodie Allen.
How old were you when you decided to take your career seriously?
I would probably say around 13 or 14. It didn't exactly work out then. It became sort of a rebirth of that idea when I was finishing up school.
Who are some of your musical influences?
For hip-hop it can be anyone from De La Soul to Outkast as well as The Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest and Mos Def to name a few. In the late 90's-early 2000's I was really into pop-rock bands like Sum 41 and Blink 182 who were a big inspiration to me as well.
What are your thoughts on the term "frat rap?"
I don't really associate with that genre specifically. Not to go off on a tangent, but I don't promote drinking or smoking in my music. Those types of topics are associated with things that bring "white, poppy rap" down to an equal level. For me, I happen to do something that is kind of hip-hop and kind of pop and I look the way I look.
What can we expect from the Crew Cuts mixtape and how is it different from your previous efforts?
I wanted to make a real concerted effort to be more musical on this which is pretty much the best way to describe it. It is a little bit more grown up and way edgier and less safe. Other songs I have done in the past tend to be a bit predictable and safe and with this album I wanted to shift that completely.
Tell me about the collaboration you did with Chiddy on your song "Fame Is For Assholes"?
Me and Chiddy have played 20 shows in our lifetime together. Ones at colleges and that sort of world, yet we never actually got to do a track before. We have a similar fan base and I've always pushed for that collaboration to happen because I feel it would be a perfect fit and something that everybody could enjoy. The timing for this was great based off of that. When the fans found out we were working together they were totally psyched. The whole process came pretty naturally. I went to one of his shows and reached out to him after asking if he would come to New York to do a track. We did the whole song together from coming up with the verses and recording in the same room. It really came together well and the results turned out amazingly.
The hip-hop industry has sort of an unspoken 'inner sanctum.' Do you feel like you're outside of it?
I've had a lot of conversations about this in the past and had those feelings of "Why can't this work, why can't I fit in blah blah blah." I'm over having those emotions because I make music that I like and there is an audience that responds well to it. I am lucky to have that and am only focused on that factor. There are a lot of people in that world that wish they could have similarly to what I have. Kind of "grass is always greener on the other side," except for me I am happy to be where I am at.
Do you feel like you don't get half the respect you deserve?
I'm happy that I get to do this as my career. I get to tour on a national level and make a good living doing this. All of that other stuff will come with time and those walls in this industry will be broken down. You can't force stuff like that, it has to come naturally. Every release I do open's a new group of people's eyes that didn't see my stuff before and to me that is awesome.
Why do you think white rappers who are just generally happy with being white have a hard time fitting into the industry?
It is at odds with what the hip-hop roots are and what I grew up listening to. It certainly is an evolution because it's what people like. When I grew up I listened to a lot of underground music. Now that music can actually be me because I am underground yet prevalent on the internet so its much different. So many genres and people from different backgrounds are trying to fit into this mold and they all face separate challenges in getting their voice heard, so it's not specifically tied down to what I do.
What was the feeling you got when your All American EP debut at number one on iTunes?
I was ecstatic and stoked beyond words. Personally that was a goal but didn't have that kind of an expectation. It went way bigger than I ever expected and is my biggest career defining moment so far.
What else is popping for 2013?
To support the mixtape we are going on a 28-date tour. I am hoping to have my debut album come out at some point this year. I already had a goal of being number one on the independent charts but now I want to set another one where I am number one on the mainstream charts with an independent release.
What is the one thing that you feel not only defines you as an artist but ultimately as a human being?
I would tell people to follow your passions and give what you love a try. It is the only way to feel truly fulfilled in your life.