Hoodie Allen is a New Yorker and he won’t let you forget it. “I’m the guy that’s like, ‘You can’t make me move to L.A.!” he tells us. “My influence stems from classic East Coast people — Nas, Big Pun, Mos Def.”
But for now he’s in Cleveland, Ohio, closing in on his last six shows of his tour for his latest independent release, “Happy Camper.”
The hip-hop artist born Steven Adam Markowitz released an EP titled “All American” in 2012 and independently rose to chart acclaim (peaking at number on iTunes, and 10 on the Billboard 200) before releasing his first studio album “People Keep Talking” in 2014. Now 27, Hoodie catches up with us about his writing methods, that time he worked at Google and why he chose a play on Woody Allen to enter the rap game.
How Woody became Hoodie
Before he was Hoodie, Markowitz took an outside look in at his life to come up with a hip hop alias. “It’s more kitschy than anything else,” he admits. “I was trying to think of what would be a very superficial outsiders version of how someone would sum me up once they found out what type of music I made. I thought of a profile of a New York-bred, Jewish, sarcastic, funny person and Woody Allen naturally came to mind.”
Give Woody a hip-hop twist, and the rapper became Hoodie full time. But just don’t ask him to name a favorite Woody flick — “It’s really hard to pick,” Hoodie says. “I don’t want to say ‘Annie Hall’ and be really cliche, but....”
A battle of the titans
Hoodie graduated from UPenn and took a high-profile position at Google’s Mountain View offices before eventually leaving to pursue a music career. But what’s tougher? Silicone Valley or the music biz?
“It’s hard for me to completely compare them. My experience [with the music industry] is me running myself,” explains Hoodie. “In tech, I was one of many in a large company. It might be easier for me [to compare the two] if i had been part of my own start-up, because with music you start from the ground and try to build an audience and then build upon that. It’s very fulfilling.”
Writing for keeps
“Happy Camper” offers a more personal peek at Hoodie’s life — from the retrospective “Remind Me Of” to the ode to his father, “King to Me” — but the rapper says the introspective release was more of a happy coincidence.
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“[The difference] between the last album and this album was when I went into making this one, I wasn’t thinking about singles or what the marketing plan could be,” he explains. “I think concentrating on the music allowed me to be more introspective on some tracks and not over thinking was the key.”
If you go:
March 19 at 8 p.m.
421 North 7th Street, Philadelphia
March 20 at 7 p.m.
House of Blues Boston
15 Lansdowne St, Boston
March 22 at 8 p.m.
125 E 11th St, New York