Category: Music

A Close Reading of Hoodie Allen’s Crew Cuts

CREWCUTSALBUM

After the initial review, I have listened enough to do a close reading, if you will, of Hoodie Allen’s newest album Crew Cuts.

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Okay, I see you Hoodie Allen. To start, this album has seven amazing features, which is something that we haven’t seen from any other Hoodie Allen compilation. Second, this is a free mixtape. He “dropped [it] and it sounded like an album” so obviously by the fact that he only released two singles that you can by on iTunes, both of which did really well, he is doing something right. Watch out Drake. Especially after how well All American did last spring, which topped the iTunes hip-hop chart, as an independent album no less. Clearly he isn’t doing this for the fame and money, because after all, Fame is for Assholes.

Here are my thoughts on the album:

1. Let Me Be Me

Oooh! Hoodie Allen has a singing voice, and a piano, and he sounds good, man! We’ve heard it a bit before. “So pardon the following interruption from this rap shit” says it all. This album is a bit different from any collection that we’ve heard before. But not to worry. Right off the bat we hear the usual sports references that I don’t completely understand, but still bump along to anyways.

Regardless though, this song sets the mood for the rest of the album – he is trying something different, so let the man be.

2. Fame Is For Assholes (feat. Chiddy Bang)

This was the second single released from the mixtape and was highly anticipated from anyone who follows his Instagram or Twitter due to all the studio photos with Chiddy. It’s kind of self explanatory,  the song is fun and upbeat. And just because you’re famous to me, Hoodie, I don’t think you’re an asshole.

3. Reunion

Is this song for the girl you depressing-tweet about all the time, Hoodie? Or is it for me. (Shh, I know the answer. It’s okay.)

More singing, more rapping. This mixtape shows a lot of growth from the Leap Year and Pep Rally days where the hooks and choruses were heavy on the samples (props to RJF). It’s nice to hear him singing more throughout the mixtape, but we still get to hear his witty lines and One Direction name drops.

4. Good Intentions

I am in love with the way this song starts. Probably the entire first minute even. Composed by the amazing Jared Evan, this song captures the Hoodie Allen vocal sound that we hear on All American. Also, feelings. Ohhh, Hoodie has feelings! “If you didn’t know, now you know” is what Biggie would say about this album.

5. Cake Boy

The highly controversial “is Hoodie selling out???111!!” single. This was the first single released from the mixtape. I wouldn’t say it sounds commercial, but the subject matter is a lot more shallow than the rest of the album. But actually, the beat is pretty sick if you ask me. Plus, if you love the fast-rap-Hoodie sound and a lot of “shwoops” and “whoops” you will enjoy bumping this on the highway with the windows down (if you live somewhere warm like Cali, where the video was filmed). This one is pretty much just a fun single, and if you try to take it any other way you will probably find yourself overanalyzing a bunch of nothing.

6. Long Night (feat. Chance the Rapper)

When I saw Hoodie in Chicago this past December, he met up with Chance the Rapper after and obviously it was a long night talking of collaborations while crew cuts danced on their heads (HAH! Clever as Shi’ite, no Judaism, if ya know what I mean).

Sorry guys, take me for who I am, not my politically incorrect puns. Anyhow, the opening to this song is hilarious. It is ‘punny’, and witty, and has some great Chance Bennett influences. Chance’s verse is also incredible. Fun, upbeat, and laid back all at the same time. Schwooop!

7. Two Lips (feat. OCD: Moosh and Twist)

Okay, we’re taking a break and getting a little deep here. Lot’s of emotions. Lot’s of Spice Girls reference? Jokes aside though “tell me what you want, what you really, really want” is far from a pop song. It’s real, a true confessional of his emotions.

8. Casanova (feat. Skizzy Mars and G-Eazy)

I love this trio. The three of them on one track is bound to be good. This one was another highly anticipated song especially after he gave us a preview on Ustream, which got a lot of attention from fans. Three smooth artists with biddies. You can’t hate.

9. Heart 2 Heart (feat. Jared Evan)

Yay! Jared Evan on the track! After opening the Hoodie Allen tour, of course everyone was excited to hear another song with Jared. I love the beat on this one, composed by RJF, so of course, classic. This track is pretty relatable and introspective if you ask me.

10. Wave Goodbye (feat. Shwayze)

When I saw a photo that Hoodie posted on his Instagram with Shwayze I had a mini aneurism with a lot of twitching and partial blood loss to half my body. Then I kind of forgot, and had another little episode when the album dropped and I got to listen to the collaboration.

This song to me is about moving on and pretty much the essence of this album. It’s a new chapter for our Hoodie Allen. We aren’t going to see the same style as Bagels and Beats or Making Waves so it’s time to take that for what it’s worth and appreciate those albums on our own time. This artist has moved on from those sounds and is obviously maturing and changing with each new track. From the fan perspective it’s refreshing to know that he is staying true to who he is.

11. Where Do We Go Now

This song is the perfect way to end the album. As an indie rap/hip-hop artist with an evolving style, Hoodie shouts out some of his East Coast comrades in the music game and recalls some of the moments before the whole Hoodie Allen movement started. He sends the message that it’s okay to revel in the moment, but you’ve got to keep moving forward. Lyrically, this is my favorite track on the mixtape. It’s something that makes me smile when I listen, especially with that CT reference.

It’s been a ride following an artist like Hoodie through this musical journey. He is the type to build a relationship with his fans, and I know there are plenty of others out there who agree. He is one of the few artists in a growing group who really gets it and understands that the fan base is the reason why you keep trucking through this career. So with that, I thank Hoodie Allen for anther wonderful, raw, and emotional mixtape! Enjoy, and grab the download if you haven’t already.

Old Macklemore Songs You Can Download For Free

macklemoreNYC

Direct download links to all the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis songs that I have been able to find free downloads for. Not to say you shouldn’t look him up on iTunes and buy his songs, because he is an independent rapper meaning he gets no money from a record label, meaning he is fucking awesome.

Language Of My World (2005): 

The Magic

Love Song

I Said Hey

Claiming The City

The Unplanned Mixtape (2009):

The Town

And We Danced

The vs. REDUX (2010):

Otherside

Singles:

Make The Money (Also re-released on The Heist)

Wings (Also re-released on The Heist)

Victory Lap (Released after winning XXL Freshman of the Year)

Features:

Blazin’ High – Tony Williams feat. Wale, Emilio Rojas & Macklemore

The full discography (not including The Heist) can be listened to here on this Bandcamp page, or on iTunes where you can find tons of other songs that aren’t Thrift Shop. As always, if the links are broken let me know.

Multimedia Smörgåsbord

I made a playlist on Spotify full of not-really-recent-but-still-awesome songs for chilling around your house. It’s a multi-genre playlist, or “La Liste des Chansons Alternative” if you will, with a lot of alternative female singers because I had a feminist moment and loaded up on some Marina and other like artists. But then on the other hand I was getting into Donald Glover’s Camp album and added two of his songs to it. It’s best listened to on shuffle.

On another semi-related note, I found this cool artist somehow on tumblr, I think. If you like electro and dubstep and Norwegians, then you will most likely enjoy Shufflethroat. This is his newest EP, but there is a lot more if you go to the rest of his Soundcloud.

I really liked all the photography on his Facebook page, so I asked if he took the photos himself. Turns out his girlfriend is a photographer and does his photography. Pretty, ja?? Well I thought it was impressive so I “Liked” it… like, on Facebook, and the photo links it back to her page as well.

Lastly, I want to share a new music video that Jared Evan put out on January 3rd. If you can connect to the song at all, the music video might make you cry or at least tear up a bit like it did to me. I sincerely apologize if this post causes your web browser to move at an exceedingly slow pace, but I felt the need to share this multimedia smörgåsbord all in one post, mostly because I wanted to use the word smörgåsbord. Enjoy!

Best of DJ Fresh Direct

DJFreshDirect

Because producers need love. Also, Dylan’s is the only soundcloud that I avidly follow, among that are his other forms of social media to include twitterFacebook, and tumblr. The following is a playlist of my favorites. Dylan, if you’re reading this, please make more chillstep remixes! This set varies in genre so press play with an open mind and an open mood and enjoy the next 32 minutes!

Nap Rap

If you find yourself saying “let’s have a siesta”, I have compiled a playlist of hip-hop and rap songs that I can fall asleep to because there is nothing better than falling asleep to music. At just over an hour, it gives you enough time to fall asleep to Jared Evans and some Skizzy Mars featuring G-Eazy, dream about thier concert that you now want to go to, and wake up with a stretch and some B.o.B and Upper Echelon. Fewer BPM to ramp up your REM. If you weren’t aware, there is a SoundCloud app for iPhone, in case you want to nap to rap on the go!

Disclaimer: the first time you listen to this playlist you may not be able to sleep due to the beautiful voices that are about to grace your eardrums. Therefore, I made a list of other things that you might try first while listening to this playlist. Some of these songs are also available for free download directly from SoundCloud. If they aren’t and you would like to find out where to get them, leave a comment!

  • laying on the beach
  • driving the car (to Dunkin’ Donuts)
  • watching the television on mute
  • laying on the carpet pretending it’s a beach
  • making cereal
  • decorating the Christmas tree
  • drinking egg nog and rum

On the off chance that you’ve never caught yourself thinking “let’s have a siesta”, enjoy this song.

The Universe Project

If you like any of the music from Does Your iTunes Suck? then you will like this band who I just got too excited about not to share. Combine Kids These Days with a little Loggy from Radical Something and you might get an idea about what The Universe Project is like. To sum it up for you in my words, if you like some weird experimental music with good instrumentals and chill rapping, you will enjoy the free EP, Nocturnal Truth.

From their Facebook it looks like they just enjoy making music and having a good time. They are playing at a hurricane Sandy benefit concert with Zak Downtown, Pyramids, Rasp5, and Julian Cavin on December, 26 in NYC if you happen to be in the area.

Does Your iTunes Suck?

Is it full of old songs that you’ve played too much? Are you too lazy to look up new music? Is your recently added playlist empty? Is it full of Ke$ha? Do you even like music?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, then the following is definitely for you. I’ve created a compilation of links to some music I’m currently into and organized them in a relatively neat fashion, so go make your headphones and ears happy again. Some is new, some is old, but it’s all good. A lot of these are FREE. Like, LEGALLY FREE. So no reason not to at least check it out!

* are direct downloads, meaning when you click the link, it will automatically download to your computer.

Indie-Rap and Hip Hop 

The Heist (album deluxe edition) by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ($12)

One Night (EP) by Timeflies ($4)

The 4th Chapter (album) by Jared Evan * [or support for $8]

Must Be Nice (mixtape) by G-Eazy *

The Endless Summer (mixtape) by G-Eazy

Traphouse Rock (album) by Kids These Days *

Nights Like These (album) by Outasight ($8)

Leap Year (mixtape) by Hoodie Allen *

Hey Now (single) by Hoodie Allen *

All American (EP) by Hoodie Allen ($5)

Trapgold (mixtape) by Iggy Azalea *

Keep Your Friends Close (EP) by Dylan Owen *

Alternative, Pop and Rock

Summer of Rad (collection) by Radical Something *

Halcyon (album deluxe edition) by Ellie Goulding ($15)

Death of a Decade (album) by Ha Ha Tonka ($10)

So there are a few for now. With $54 dollars and a little bit of time, you can download the entire list if you want! Not many people have either of that lying around, but check some of them out and come back for more if you like what you heard. You see what I like, so if you have any recommendations for me, please let me know via commenting below! I love discovering music, any and all genres.

p.s. I double checked them all, but please let me know if any of the links are broken.

The Song of the Post is one by Kids These Days. This song is not on the album linked above, but I saw the video this morning and thought it was pretty artistic. The female vocals and instrumentals are my favorite.

Study Playlist

I have hand crafted a 15 song playlist to get you through at least and hour or so of studying.

Start with the Timeflies banger “Adderall and Red Bull” to get you super pumped about what you’re getting yourself into. Obviously they feel your pain. They went to Tufts. Take it slow for the next couple songs, until you get to number four where you may have to take a moment to wail the lyrics to a cover of “Don’t You Worry Child” by Kyle Armillotti. About halfway through, Aer tells you to “Keep Going” followed by some “Be Easy” by Radical Something.

I really chose these songs based off of the fact that they aren’t too upbeat or rage-tastic, therefore perfect for planting yourself in the library, but the titles are gold right now.

When you get to number 10, “Don’t Move”, Phantogram will let you know that it’s almost time to take a break, because by the time you get to 15, it will finally be “The End”, a little ballad by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

The best part about this, is you can download the full playlist by clicking that little down arrow button below!

Of course, don’t be fooled by the title. This playlist is also perfect for:

  • your daily commute
  • staring out the window in the office
  • lying in bed
  • doing the dishes
  • taking a shower
  • and making brownies

Good luck on finals U-Haul (the white person version of y’all).

I couldn’t not add the video that Kyle made to go along with his Swedish House Mafia cover so enjoy his moustache that accompanies his angelic voice below.

Why All Independent Artists Make It Big

Because it is finals week, I am taking a five-minute, (or 50-minute) break to write about something that means a lot more to me than Function in Movement aka HSS 390. Apologies to Professor K; but I sit in the back for a reason.

Last night, my roommate Sam and I were getting back into the car after an 8pm grocery trip and I wanted nothing more than to be back in my room writing my, “The Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with Limited Commentary by Erin Bennett” booklet to go along with the album that I burned for Ellen (shout out gurrll! I know you read this!). That long anticipated album that I had pre ordered over three months ago lived up to all my expectations and more; and the 19 song Deluxe Edition needed to be shared with the world! (And if not the world, then maybe just my circle of friends.)

The Heist has been in my headphones basically every day since it’s release on October 9, 2012. In fact I am listening to it right this second. Because of this, I was not surprised to be listening to “Thrift Shop” when I got in the car. However, it only took me a second to realize that it was the radio coming through the speakers. Specifically, a station that plays a lot of halfway decent (a stretch), overplayed, pop-songs that we all sing every word to regardless of how much we hate them.

I progressively started to get more excited about this as I was telling Sam about how awesome it is that Macklemore (Ben Haggerty) has worked at this craft for thousands of hours, possibly even Ten Thousand Hours, and his hard work that I diligently follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr is finally paying off.

All I could think is that hundreds of people are listening to “Thrift Shop” right now, and they are probably Shazam-ing on their phones, trying to figure out who the hell this dude is, rapping about his green gator shoes.

After all this time, and it should be noted that Macklemore has been making music since 2000, his message is getting out there to the public ear. The ears of people who might not even know the name of any other independent rapper except for Mac Miller. (As a side note, I find it funny that I was explaining Macklemore to someone once, and they misheard me thinking I was pronouncing Mac Miller wrong. No, person. Mac Miller, the 20-year-old millionaire indie rapper who began in 2007 at age 15, is quite different than Macklemore.)

Anyhow, this got me to thinking about the catch-22 that some indie fans face when their favorite artists make it big time. On the one hand, it’s an amazing feeling to see someone who you look up to grow and become noticed for the art that they have been slaving away at for the sole purpose of entertaining their fans. This is true passion, my friends.

An artist who is releasing music without the guarantee that it will be heard just has to have an obsession for it. There is just no way that one can spend that much time on something without the drive and appreciation for their art. I have much respect for someone who can carefully grow his fan base for twelve years without nation-wide recognition or radio play. Not only that, but to continue to make something as increasingly beautiful and moving as Macklemore has is pure talent.

As we all know, radio stations will generally only play the popular, catchy singles off an album. Apparently “Thrift Shop” generated enough worldwide popularity (as it has sat in the number 1 spot in the New Zealand charts, among others, for quite some time now) to be recognized as radio worthy in the United States. Hm. What a great opportunity for him to become recognized! Hopefully listeners will go home and Spotify the album, become familiar with the other songs and realize that Macklemore is more than just this amazing single. Yay! The mainstream life ain’t all that bad!

However… the thing that drives me nuts is when people literally only know ‘that one song’ on the radio that makes them just lovveeee the artist. Oh yea? Your love seems deep. REALLY DEEP. To avoid sounding like a pretentious asshole, I am just going to say if you’re about to call me a pretentious asshole, kindly discontinue the gaze of your eyes upon this page.

Okay open-minded reader, moving on. So now you know that is what really drives me nuts. I am sure we are all guilty of this on some level. We can’t help it that we are force fed the music that the radio stations, society, and the big time record labels think we should listen to. This is what they get paid for! If we just happen to find ‘that one song’ on the radio catchy, yeah, we’re going to sing along. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to go listen to the rest of said artists music, nor does it mean that this person is our new favorite.

What I am trying to get at is there is more than meets the ear when it comes to radio. It takes a hot minute for someone to become famous; whether they have spent their entire being putting the effort in to hopefully one day achieve this dream, or if they were spoon-fed their instant mashed potatoes, we may never know.

I personally think there is something to be said about any independent artist who has released multiple projects. Passion. Whatever it is that drives them, they clearly have the passion to keep moving forward. One mix-tape, sure. Two, okay. I see you. At this point, if it’s for the fans, or for the prospect of big money, they are doing what they have to do to fulfill a dream. Therefore, if you are an indie artist, you have made it big in my eyes. Go for the gold, son.

It would make sense for me to give you a little sample of this new album, but a) I already posted some Macklemore in a previous post, and b) I want you to check out The Heist as a whole if you haven’t already. Instead, today I introduce to you G-Eazy, another hard working rapper/producer who deserves a little recognition too. This song is most apropos for the current topic.