Hoodie Allen fans have grown accustomed to surprises, but this album is his most extensive record yet. The indie party-boy rapper, Steven Markowitz, better known as Hoodie Allen, hails from Long Island and released his sixth record and second full-length album, Happy Camper, at midnight on January 22. It is accessible as a free download on his website and streaming on all major services such as Spotify and Soundcloud.
In many ways, Happy Camper is even stronger than his previous album, People Keep Talking, and possibly even his best one yet. It’s fun, easy-going, and angsty; hip-hop, pop, and rap album all rolled into one. Every track has its unique style, but the background music is constant throughout. Stylewise, Allen is the same artist he was six years ago in Pep Rally’s first album. But, staying true to his musical roots, Allen’s lyrics are clever and purposeful, unlike those of similar artists.
Happy Camper blurs the lines between pop and rap music and blends them perfectly. The two styles work well together in songs like “Champagne and Pools,” featuring his “Happy Camper Tour” partners Blackbear and KYLE. In some pieces, however, like “Surprise Party,” the styles clash. In “Suprise Party,” Hoodie sings, “Oh you graduated, with a three-point five GPA in communications; And you in LA for the day, this is your vacation; Brought your friends into my crib, But you’re the only one that’s staying.” It is a different rhythmic style that Hoodie fans are used to. Most songs remain upbeat, bright and catchy, and fit well with the choruses and rap verses.
“This compatible style creates a feeling of great variety within the songs, but all of them share fun and catchy qualities, making every song great bop like ‘Remind Me Off,’”said junior Kate Hartway.
This album release is a huge turning point in his career and shows fans a deeper side to the singer. It proves he can be genuine and honest while still delivering great tunes to jam out to.
Unlike previous releases, this album remains true to his original style, but his maturity level has changed. His voice and lyrics have grown out of his old party boy ways. Even though he’s growing up, he is still the fun-loving artist that people have come to admire. Tracks like “Are U Having Any Fun?” remind fans that Allen values having a good time, despite the circumstance. In the song, Hoodie states, “Check it, yo, if you ain’t having fun, whatchu do it for?; Quit your job, leave your wife, tell your kids you went on tour; You went out to get them snacks, ice cream, and some chocolate fudge; You the one they love, so if you disappear, they’ll hold a grudge.” While he looks back on mistakes, he still shows a positive attitude and tries to lift the listener’s spirits about any stress or problems they are facing.
For Hoodie Allen, social media has played a massive role in his career in spreading music and content over the past few years. He currently has over 721,000 followers on Twitter and millions of hits on YouTube, all without the help of a record label. Allen takes the time to engage with fans on Twitter, give out free tickets, and even feature fans in music videos. He quit his job at Google to spend more time perfecting his craft, touring, and making music. With many free releases under his belt dating back to 2010’s Pep Rally, Allen cares about the music first and foremost. His formula is simple: He releases free music that his fans love, tours the country, responds to feedback, and repeats. In Allen’s words, “I don’t need your money; I just want you to hear this album your choice.”
Hoodie Allen’s combination of catchy tracks and purposeful lyrics set him apart from other artists in the game. His developed songs show how much he has grown as an artist and as a person. In addition, he sends his message so clearly to the listeners that they can’t help but understand his point of view. In context, this is Hoodie’s best album yet, and he is just getting stronger, which shows he deserves four stars out of 5.