24-year-old Steven Markowitz used to work at Google, which seems like one of the best jobs someone could have in America in this day and age. But today he has taken a new direction and moniker as the charismatic rapper Hoodie Allen. His rise to recognition and fame started gradually with the release of his 2009 debut Bagels and Beats, as well as his Making Waves mixtape. It wasn’t until his pop-song sampled albums Pep Rally and Leap Year did music listeners start to listen to this up-and-coming rap artist. In fact, Hoodie’s underground success has led him to mainstream stardom, performing in front of sold-out concerts, posting on his Facebook page, having the decency to take pictures with fans, and even getting his first official studio EP reach #1 on iTunes. What’s surprising is how his new mixtape, Crew Cuts, doesn’t necessarily bring the same excitement or charm as his previous records. In fact, his most prevalent tune off of Crew Cuts, “Fame is for Assholes” almost disappoints devoted Hoodie fans (but some may beg to differ). Although the relatively appealing song maintains the catchiness of most popular Hoodie songs, the lyrics feel somewhat derivative to most of Hoodie’s vulgar one-liners. You could cringe or sing along, whether you’re a committed Hoodie fan or not, but Crew Cuts is too thematically irregular and artistically dull to be a great Hoodie Allen mixtape. Despite Hoodie’s consistent rhyming fluidity and quick flashes of genius, Crew Cuts doesn’t offer any noteworthy or stand-out tracks — unlike Leap Year‘s “The Chase is On,” All American‘s “No Interruption,” and Pep Rally‘s “Swimming with Sharks.” Another commercially popular song off the mediocre Crew Cuts is the indifferent “Cake Boy,” which lyrically sounds similar to “Clique” and melodically to Kendrick Lamar’s outlandish “Backstreet Freestyle.” Sometimes, it’s hard to differentiate Hoodie’s pop star half from his hip hop artist half, especially on the reminescent opener “Let Me Be Me” and the unoriginal “Two Lips.” It seems like Hoodie’s raps have become trite and uninventive, especially in his worst Crew Cuts track, “Reunion,” when he borrows Drake’s “Over” line of “drop the mixtape, shit sounded like an album.” Hoodie only comes to his full circle of brilliance when he raps on the funky, electro-induced “Long Night,” and the Sky Ferreira-sampled “Heart 2 Heart.” Although Hoodie’s rhymes generally about romance, girls, alcohol, partying, and being a ladies man, he fails to manage any appeal on the rushed “Good Intentions” and the hazy “Casanova,” which features an indifferent G-Eazy and Skizzy Mars. However, Hoodie Allen does retain some catchiness and glimmer, especially on the Shwayze-featured “Wave Goodbye.”
It’s pretty amazing how far Hoodie Allen has come along in the rap game, especially with his last three mixtapes and iTunes-charting EP. Even though Crew Cuts isn’t Hoodie at his best, he’s not done with rapping just yet. The mixtape fluctates from corny pop songs to intriguing hip-hop jams, which is definitely detrimental to Hoodie as both a pop and hip hop artist. Hopefully he won’t get lost in the fame and will instead utilize creative sampling with amazing rhyming, which Crew Cuts unfortunately hasn’t proven.
Recommended: No, unless you’re a die-hard Hoodie Allen fan
Suggested Tracks: “Long Night,” “Heart 2 Heart,” “Wave Goodbye”