Review Summary: Doodie Allen
Picture if you will the show Friends. Many fans will agree that the best part of the show is that all the characters brought a different quality- including craziness, biting wit and stupidity- to the table, which gave the show variety. Conversely, picture the Friends spin-off “Joey.” “Joey” was a massive flop because it only highlighted one member of the Friends gang and it was simply Joey overload. Without the support of his castmates, Joey was simply annoying rather than a lovable moron. The things that made him stand out were over-played on his own show and his character suffered because of it.
This Friends/Joey scenario is very similar to what we find with Hoodie Allen, a smart, young rapper coming off of his underground hit (over 300,000 downloads) Pep Rally. On Pep Rally, Hoodie was unassuming and humble. His flow was unique and served, for the most part, to set up the jokes that he wove into the verses. RJA’s production supported Hoodie’s verses superbly and the indie music- samples brought a softer edge to his loud delivery. On Leap Year, however, Hoodie has changed. His jokes and pop-culture references are now overbearing, with some lines containing up to 3 jokes in them. Eventually, the humor loses the wit that made Pep Rally so unique. Furthermore, the flow that made the jokes so workable has been changed. On tracks such as “Song For an Actress,” which is a boring rehash of “January Jones” and the audaciously named “#WhiteGirlProblems”, Hoodie sounds like he’s copying Childish Gambino. This renders some of the punchlines useless because they carry over into the next line and get halted. This makes the jokes about as funny as a stand-up comedian with a stutter. Overall, it appears that his uniqueness is gone and with it goes most of the listening pleasure.
When Hoodie isn’t copying other rappers, he’s emulating himself. While I listened to Leap Year, I noticed that a lot of the jokes he’s making are ones that he used on Pep Rally but has changed a couple of words in the line. The aforementioned “Song For an Actress” even hazards a chance at a January Jones joke which, suffice to say, doesn’t work. This apparent need of Hoodie’s to always be the funniest man in the room has led to repetition, which leads to boredom for the listener. Don’t get me wrong, some lines like “If they’re not at my concert they’re missing out/Lebron’s here… my Mom’s here” are funny but most of the time the jokes fall flat. And, since these jokes constitute around 40% of the lyrical content, it brings down the album as a whole.
Although his flow is changing and he isn’t as funny as he once was, give Hoodie some credit for trying to become a more complete artist. The samples are gone in favor of, regrettably, a tune-deaf Hoodie “singing” the choruses. Other rappers have been known to do their own choral work but Hoodie’s is probably some of the worst I’ve ever heard. His voice is constantly flat and the hooks aren’t catchy. The themes of the hooks deal with maturity and growing up but it’s quite clear that Hoodie really hasn’t grown aside from quitting his job at Google to become a full-time rapper. The beats also forgo the use of sampling, instead relying on keyboards and on the disaster “Can’t Hold Me Down,” saxophone. What this does is overpower Hoodie’s voice, which has been muffled considerably compared to his vocals on Pep Rally. It’s obviously a problem when the beats, which are all boring, are stronger than the jokes that he’s trying to make but is the case on Leap Year.
But I still maintained shred of hope throughout the album that Hoodie was more-or-less the same nerd that I became enamored with when I first heard Pep Rally. He still had some fun lyrical sections and when he wasn’t altering his flow and delivery to sound like a comedian, he sounded pretty decent. However, all hope was lost when I reached the ending track “Moon Bounce.” This song is an absolute insult to music. It’s another case of Hoodie trying too hard to be funny and falling flat on his face (read: Joey). The song is purely lyrical drivel (she told me to move out/I’m packing up and going to Mars/ and when I get there/ I’m gonna moon bounce) and highlights Hoodie’s new Gambino-like flow and jokes (I’m ***ing your bitch/Kelsey Grammar). In fact, Hoodie barely raps at all on “Moon Bounce,” instead relying on a sort-of half-singing, half-rapping hybrid. The space-age beat in the background does nothing to improve the horrid song. I wish I had never heard the song not only because it’s terrible but also because I lost all hope in Hoodie Allen.
My ever-waning optimism hopes that this tape will just be a speed bump in Hoodie’s fledgling career. Everything that he used to do right has either been removed, like the supporting cast of Friends, or done to excess, like Joey. This album will suffer the same fate as Joey’s show, a quick fade into obscurity while I listen to Pep Rally and reminisce about how creative he was and when he thought it was cool to not be a one-man show. In essence, this album should be forgotten and fans should look forward to the next tape if they still believe that Hoodie can revert to his former self.