Question: what Long Island heartthrob can spit out rhymes fresher than a multigrain bagel, straight out of the toaster?
Answer: Hoodie Allen, the smoothest operator to have ever emerged from the well-manicured depths of Manhattan’s neighbor to the east (Plainview, to be exact). He’s Jewish (brownie points); he’s fine (those eyes, though); and he should set off your musical radar if he hasn’t already.
A friend first introduced me to Hoodie Allen last spring, playing the song “Fame is For Assholes” to lighten a particularly brutal study session in the library instead of the ten other places either one of us would have rather spent our Thursday night.
With a Mavericks jersey tucked messily underneath his sweatshirt and a pair of untied boat shoes hanging off his feet, this friend embodied Hoodie’s target demographic: college-aged men. (Or, at least, he dressed the part)
At 25, Hoodie is still young enough to remember his glory days at the University of Pennsylvania. A member of its Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity (more brownie points), Hoodie somehow balanced social responsibilities with schoolwork as well as his burgeoning musicianship.
In other words, he killed it.
Consequently, he caters his music generally to the folks he knows best: the 18-20-something-year-olds transitioning from boyhood into fully functional dude-hood. His raps offer these fledgling dudes guidance and comfort as they come of age in an environment that presents new, difficult challenges — such as discovering the right amount of wrist flick-age to sink pong balls into any solo cup life could thrust in front of them.
His lyrics drop truth-bombs like “never meet a girl on Craig’s List” or “stop, drop, roll, continue cause haters try to mingle” — thoughtful advice for maneuvering situations that probably involve equally egregious amounts of Natty Light and poor judgment.
However, Hoodie’s value as an artist transcends the music that he has released and the audience that identifies with him. As a 20-year-old female, I relate less to the content of his music (sorry, no one wants to “hold my wand like Emma Watson”) than I do to the story behind his rise to success.
Upon graduating college, he faced a dilemma that daunts most people — choosing between pursuing a financially stable career or a passion, which may not have led anywhere. Instead of continuing reluctantly down the predictable path, he laced up his shiny, white sneaks and set out to chase his dream of becoming a rapper.
And he did it. He charged after that dream so hard that he could grab it by the hair, tackle it to the ground, and twist its arm behind its back until it screamed “Uncle!” before it passed out.
For a brief period of time after college, Hoodie worked fulltime at Google — a job that required him to wake up at an ungodly early hour of the morning (read: 7am) to take the bus to the company’s offices. However, he still managed to sustain his side project and first love: his music career.
After work each day, Hoodie wrote songs and booked shows until, finally, he was performing so many live concerts that he didn’t have the time to continue working at Google. He quit his job at the company, set aside his crisp ties and chinos, and the rest is, well, history.
Hoodie’s dedication to actualizing his ambitions — regardless of how unrealistic, unstable, or difficult they may have seemed at one point in his life — deepens his credibility as an artist. He chose not to cling onto his career in Corporate America — proffered and undoubtedly encouraged by his education at an elite university — as many would have done in his place.
His motivation should challenge those of us in college — or those of us at any age who are struggling with a crossroads in our lives — to consider what we really want to do rather than putting all our energy into what we think will provide us with the most stability. We should listen to the tracks he has released and think of them not just at their face value but consider what went into making them.
He should inspire us.
He certainly has inspired me. I listened to “No Interruption” exactly 57 times last week — partially because I secretly want to marry him but mostly because it fuelled me through a hellish series of midterm exams. After all, Hoodie knows more than most that if you work hard enough, you can and will succeed.
These days, Hoodie is wrapping up his first studio album after having already released a couple of EPs to significant commercial success. Though he is currently travelling for his Party With Your Friends Tour, as soon as he finishes and debuts that album, Lord knows I will be on iTunes preorder like peanut butter on matzah.
Really damn good matzah.