REVIEW: Hoodie Allen – ‘People Keep Talking’


Artist: Hoodie Allen
Album: People Keep Talking
Genre: Hip-hop

After half a decade of free tracks, mixtapes, and a slew of critically acclaimed EPs, Hoodie Allen is finally sharing his long-awaited debut album with the world. To say the results were worth the wait would be a massive understatement.

People Keep Talking is the culmination of countless miles, thousands of fans, millions of streams, and several years of hard work. Hoodie Allen, known to his mother as Steven Adam Markowitz, has been crisscrossing the globe since 2009 with a unique take on urban music that challenges the white boy rapper stereotype made popular in the early 2000s. He delivers rhymes with a variety of flows, touching on topics both light and heavy, with never a second thought given to whether or not he’s shared too much of himself. People Keep Talking is the latest example of this, and it also just so happens to be Hoodie’s finest work to date.

There are a few ways people can approach their debut release, but in the world of hip-hop most choose to either focus on singles or work towards developing a deep relationship with their audience. Most tend to choose the first option, but Hoodie – much like genre peer Kendrick Lamar – has opted for the latter. People Keep Talking has plenty of songs that will ensure your Saturday night is one for the blurred vision history books, but it also contains a wealth of information regarding Hoodie’s journey and struggle to achieve success, as well as the sacrifices made in pursuit of his dream. This is made clear from the beginning with “100% of something,” which finds Hoodie sharing reflections on the last major relationship he had that went south. It’s clear his heart is broken in several ways, but Hoodie also recognizes that there is so much good happening in his life at the same time that he’s doing his best to move forward and keep his head up. That messages carries over to “People Keep Talking,” which addresses staying in your own lane and not letting the opinions of others get in your way.

The party life side of Hoodie that previously gave the world tracks like “Cake” is represented throughout People Keep Talking, but rarely does it surface in a way that feels destined for the club. There’s nothing wrong with simple beats and production that caters to those looking to dance while trying not to spill their overpriced drinks, but that no longer seems to be the kind of music Hoodie wishes to create. Instead, tracks like “Won’t Mind” showcases an evolved sense of loving life, with production that feels far more complex than many previous Hoodie singles. Likewise, “All About It” finds Hoodie partnering with Ed Sheeran for a laid back jam that feels perfect for house parties and BBQs with your closest friends. They’re potential singles almost assuredly made to promote good times, but they work as well within the context of the album as they do on their own, which is something many artists are unable to do with their material.

Ladies, please don’t think Hoodie forgot about you amidst all his heartache and partying. In fact, it’s you that he writes about most. Tracks like “Movie,” “Dumb For You,” and the incredibly catchy “Numbers” might are straight up love songs, but nearly every track on the record finds a way to pull females, relationships, or the problems those two things can cause into the mix. “The Real Thing” is my favorite of the bunch, blending romance with just a dash of Hoodie’s ego to create a radio ready song that keeps you coming back again and again.

Hoodie has always prided himself on the ability to continuously build his audience without relying on popular music trends or major guest appearances. While there are a slew of guest spots littered throughout the record, People Keep Talking is largely Hoodie doing Hoodie, with little to no regard for how others might try to cater to whatever sound is popular at the moment. It would have been easy for Allen to recruit G-Eazy or one of his other genre peers for a headline grabbing guest verse, but doing so would have changed the way the material on this record speaks to the listener. As I’ve said before, it’s not about singles as much as it is furthering Hoodie’s relationship with his fans. He wants to have a good time as much as the next person, but he does not create those moments at the expense of being honest about himself and his current position in life.

After having spent five years cutting his teeth on the underground music circuit, Hoodie Allen proves with People Keep Talking that he is ready for a complete top 40 takeover. From beginning to end, Allen has crafted a unique listening experience that is equal parts smart, fun, innovative, and energetic. There’s a dash of heartache in mix as well, which makes everything feel a bit more authentic as it shakes and rattles its way through your speakers. I’m not sure where the album will fall on my favorite releases of the year, but People Keep Talking is without a doubt on of the best album 2014 has produced.

SCORE: 9.5/10
Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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