When he first gained fame a decade ago, Hoodie Allen was pretty much straight hip-hop. Anchored by songs like "No Interruption" and "No Faith in Brooklyn," his debut EP All American was praised by the music press and debuted at number 10 on the Billboard 200. Over the years, he's collaborated with blackbear, Chance the Rapper, and G-Eazy.



Lately, the Long Island native has shifted in a different stylistic direction. His latest single, "Wouldn't That Be Nice," is driven by guitar. He claims his next album won't include much rapping at all, and he's completely happy with that. But let's be clear, this isn't a sudden move. The funk-laced "All About It" with Ed Sheeran came out in 2014.

Keep Reading Show less

It's a great week to be a Jewish rapper. After Drake invited us to his re-bar mitzvah, original mini Drake dance footage included, Long Island's own Hoodie Allen has the No. 1 album on iTunes. Allen, who came to our attention with the James Franco-mocking video this summer, released his first retail EP All American on Tuesday, following the lead of single "No Interruption" and "No Faith in Brooklyn." With a pair of videos to match, Allen's already reached over 800,000 YouTube views in just two weeks, taking control of the top spot on the  iTunes albums chart while trumping the likes of Nicki Minaj, Adele and One Direction. Bring on the SNL gig! That's how things work these days, right?

For those unfamiliar, the shortened Allen bio involves a Long Island upbringing, UPenn diploma and a brief stint at the Google offices out in Mountain View, Calif. Not exactly the traditional hip-hop pedigree, but after seeing Aubrey read the Torah, we've learned to expect the unexpected. At 23-years-old, Allen has no major label behind him, yet he's worked to create a strong and passionate fan base through his social media channels, connecting with those who appreciate his tongue-in-cheek approach to hip-hop lyrics as well as his growing repertoire as a budding singer-songwriter. Of the two current singles, the delicate piano riff of "Brooklyn" has stuck with us the most, with Allen breaking down the effects of ambition on his current relationship. Not afraid to reference his peers, or the names those in power would rather he model his sound after—Jay Sean or Kreayshawn?—it's a battle between faith and time, with a catchy hook by Jhameel and Hoodie's own vocals working to quell all concerns about how he can make it all work.

While immediate chart success is always the goal, Allen looks to his upcoming live tour as the biggest way to help build further buzz around All American. On April 20, he'll begin a 22-city swing in Greenville, SC, helping fans across New York, Chicago and Los Angeles christen the beginning of their warm weather days with the appropriate score. "I think people are going to [get] a really fun record that [they'll] want to play during their summer and it's going to be their driving music," Hoodie told Billboard. "I get excited about connecting to people in that way, as their soundtrack." Get a taste for the artist owning your iTunes chart, below.

Long Island rapper Hoodie Allen is honest about his approach when it comes to making it in the music biz. "Use a lot of famous people just to write some clever lines," he says on "James Franco," a song named after actor-cum-everything under the sun. Not unlike Das Rascist's "Michael Jackson" in terms of borrowing a the name of a famous performer and then parodying him in the accompanying clip, the video teases the fallen Oscar host's uncanny ability to look totally stoned at all times, with various shots from throughout his career superimposed onto the otherwise typical boardwalk scene. While Franco's many heads are busy serving hot dogs and skateboarding, Hoodie can be seen bragging about his Ivy League education and how he shares the same little black book as that guy from Maroon 5. The track itself has musical influences as diverse as the random celebrities that get name-checked—Screech Powers, Adam Levine, Mark Wahlberg—with a "Criminal"-sampling intro and "Fran-co" chorus that borrows from "Hip Hop Hooray." But don't let that distract you from the subject at hand—this is a music video as well as a resume check. Can you identify where each of these Franco faces comes from? Watch below.

[Vulture]