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Interview: Hoodie Allen


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“I’ll try not to get swarmed”, Hoodie laughs as I mention the queue of adoring, slightly scary female fans forming outside Birmingham’s Institute five hours before he is due to take the stage.

Hoodie Allen

I find myself in the company of one of America’s biggest upcoming rappers. Backstage crammed in what I imagine is a changing room, only stacks of money seem to litter the place. It is immediately clear that Hoodie Allen is making a name for himself over here in the UK as well as in the States.

He apologises, in his typical New York City accent, for the  drums soundcheck that seem to rattle the room.

“The kids were going crazy last night. It was probably the best night of the tour. Tonight is going to be so much bigger with so many more people so it’ll be interesting to see what energy Birmingham gives me”.

The MC-come-pop-star has recently teamed up with Ed Sheeran a single together; 'All About It'.

For someone, like myself, who is far from into rap music, the song serves as a blur between pop and hip hop and is actually pretty good. And, from the tempestuous masses that locate themselves outside the building, so do many others.

“Ed’s a really good person and so easy to work with. He’s my homie.”

“I met him at a gig that he played in New York City and I was there with my girlfriend and we had a mutual friend and I found myself backstage and we kicked it off from there. He’s so great”.

The impressive thing about Hoodie is his rejection of record labels, still being unsigned after years of producing music and turning down offers from major record labels. Chat digresses to the problems he faces because of this:

“There are positives and negatives to breaking through music without a label. I used the internet and it was alive for me.”

“I never knew Birmingham was a city before my career and now it’s my third time playing here. I’m content. I’m content, man.”

“Obviously we had the single with Ed and that’s going to give me loads of exposure.”

“It’s hard for me to get a feel for the pulse over here because I’m so disconnected in the states”, Hoodie tells me. He seems to love the vibe he gets from Brits though.

From his own music, to what he’s been listening to, Hoodie tells me that he’s “a huge fan of some of the music out there at the moment”.

“I love the new Big Sean album, I like the Drake mixtape. I haven’t listened to the new Kendrick (Lemar) yet but it’s on my list.”

“Oh and George Ezra. I’ve been listening to his album on the plane and it suits it so well. Ed’s album is always great too.”

Without being part of a record label, Hoodie (Steven Adam Markowitz on the gas bill) has had to find new and innovative means of reaching out and gaining an audience. One way of doing so was through the use of social media platforms, YouTube videos and doing livestreams for his fans.

“It’s really important. For me it’s one of the main things that draws people into my world and lets them get a sense of who I am. It allows you to have a more intimate conversation with fans.”

His fans call themselves “Hoodie’s Mob”, similar to One Directions “directioners”. It’s clear as to why with the energy of his fans lurking just behind the walls we were in.

“A few years ago everyone was getting a name for their fan bases and it’s a bit corny but it represents the online relationships my fans have formed. I think it’s cool that music brings people together.”

“You can have good music but it doesn’t means you have an audience and I take each year as it comes.”

Following in his YouTube footsteps, Hoodie has teamed up with YouTube musical sensation Max Schneider to produce music together. Max is well known for his production of music covers, mashups and medleys on YouTube.

“I hit him up on twitter about a year and a half ago complimenting his music and his voice and he’s from New York too so we hung out and he’s a really good dude; really fucking talented.”

“We’ve made four songs and three of them have been released. I don’t know if the fourth will ever see light of day.”

Our time together draws to a close by talking about Hoodie’s future. In the coming months, following the end of the current tour, Hoodie will be taking to the road again with Kendrick Lamar and Fall Out Boy.

“I’m excited man”, he tells me with real real excitement in his eyes. “I’m kinda nervous though. I’m so used to doing shows where people have paid to see me. I can’t wait to win new people over.”

Check out Hoodie’s newest single, 'All About It', with Ed Sheeran.

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