Twenty-six-year-old rapper Hoodie Allen has been building a career and fan base through social media since 2012. This week, the Long Island native released his first studio album, People Keep Talking.
Allen’s music might actually cost something now, but the 14-track debut is hardly a leap in quality from his mixtape material. “The message is about being an individual and not feeling ashamed to keep going for things that are not super-traditional,” Allen said in an interview with Newsday. Despite his uplifting words, this message hardly manifests itself in the album—any concept behind People Keep Talking is drowned beneath wave after wave of generic songs centered almost exclusively on girls. Even Allen’s other generic rap tropes—partying, alcohol, drugs, money, and fame—are completely dwarfed by this focus of the album. For anyone between the ages of 12 and 25 lacking a Y chromosome and interested in the comforting familiarity of a brainless, starry-eyed, “feel good” album, People Keep Talking is definitely worth a listen. For anyone else, it’s a forgettable, run-of-the-mill product with average beats, predictable flows, and lyricism ranging from boring to baffling.
The production of People Keep Talking is by no means terrible, but it’s nothing special. Although the beats are decently engineered, they become nearly interchangeable by the third or fourth song. Hoodie’s nasally delivery resembles a blend of white boy impersonations of Drake and Chance the Rapper spliced with Slim Shady LP-era Eminem. His singing is slightly more tolerable, but has a painfully poppy and familiar cadence. While his flows vary, with nearly effortless switches between rapping and singing, nothing in this is particularly outstanding.
The lyricism is terrible. Hardly a single line is clever, insightful, amusing, or memorable. In “The Real Thing” there is a single line that practically summarizes the entire album: “My life is like a song that’s stuck on f—king repeat.” As mentioned, nearly every line is something to the effect of “girl, I want you.” Half of the sexual innuendos alternate between clumsy and corny. A few examples include, “We can be like two digits cause ain’t no one equivalent to you” and “I’ll take your girl from court side just to show her the lockers.” A few of the songs mention heartbreak and relationships, but on such a superfluous level that it hardly feels personal.
Hoodie also fleetingly addresses critics and competitors, but, again, in a minimalistic way. His jabs at other emcees hardly evolves past one-dimensional “I got your girl on my arm” disses aimed at no one. In “Act my Age” Hoodie gets as close to a concrete response to critics as he can manage. “They say the way I act is immature / But don’t get mad at me because you’re insecure.” Aside from being a shallow, childish response, the chorus of this song ironically celebrates how Hoodie will never act his age. The rhythm and delivery of this same chorus could seamlessly fit into a Katy Perry song. Many of the tiresome hooks resemble “rebellious” tween anthems.
As frat rap, however, there’s one important question that remains to be answered: is it good to get drunk to? Frankly, no. The songs are too lyrical to be club hits, the instrumentals are upbeat but don’t quite capture a Dionysian vibe, and the mix between explicit eroticism and borderline kid-friendly hooks confounds the tone. At best, it’s mediocre pregame music.
The only aspect of Hoodie’s persona that is actually offensive is his emphasis on being “independent.” In “Against Me,” he states, “F—k that mass appeal s—t / F—k that record deal s—t.” Ironically, while Hoodie is not signed to a major label (and his album has no celebrity features), his music reflects nearly every generic, cookie-cutter trend routinely manufactured by the mainstream industry. His “individualistic” identity feels more like a cheap gimmick machinated in a transparent attempt to try to stand out.
Featured Image Courtesy of Hoodie Allen