I was in the middle of watching Jimmy Fallon’s discussion with Chris Hardwick at the Paley Center when I got a text. In the videos (which can be viewed here), Jimmy Fallon discusses how he came up in the comedy world–throughout the interview, he never once sounded pompous or arrogant; instead, he was his usual, charismatic self, filled with pride and excitement and a healthy dose of self-effacement. Well, the text was from Hoodie Allen. He wanted me to review his new free album Crew Cuts, which was coming out at noon. In his text, he said he wanted me to absorb the music and feel no pressure to have a review out by noon. Of course, I’m doing the exact opposite, but that’s not the point. Hoodie wanted feedback–genuine, good ol’ fashioned feedback.
A lot can be written about Hoodie Allen, the rapper: how he has removed the boundary between himself and his fans on Twitter, how his EP reached #1 on iTunes completely independently, how he does not exactly look like your stereotypical rapper, etc. Whatever. What about Hoodie Allen, the man? On Crew Cuts, it becomes abundantly clear who Hoodie Allen is.
If you look at this free album as a whole, you see two versions of Hoodie and where they overlap. There’s the carefree, “lady killer” Hoodie heard in the lead singles “Cake Boy” and “Fame Is For Assholes.” Then, there’s the more serious, reminiscent Hoodie found on album highlights “Let Me Be Me” and “Good Intentions.” Finally, there’s the overlap, where Hoodie deals with a fame complex, a chronic issue of my generation. That is, balancing the want and need and drive to be famous and the pains of moving past the excitement of the struggle and adventure and naiveté of young adulthood.
“Where Do We Go Now” is perhaps the best example of the overlap. It ebbs and flows through clever jabs at Al Pacino (Hoodie’s biggest fan), a shout out to super-producer/international superstar Brenton Duvall, and an extended Full House reference that had me laughing out loud at first listen, along with a narrative about his youth and general come up. It’s perhaps most fitting that such a well-rounded song brings the album full circle. On Crew Cuts, Hoodie takes the listener into his life: shows them the tour life, shows them the writing process, shows them the nights out, shows them his friends, shows them his family–much like he’s done his entire career. And he’s still grinding. He’s still responding to thousands of fans every day on Twitter and shows no signs of stopping. Throughout all of the late nights in the studio and extended metaphors, Hoodie has remained humble and prideful and maybe most importantly, excited throughout. He is the rap game Jimmy Fallon. Now, shit I have to go to class.