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November 22, 2017

Rapper Hoodie Allen may just be funnier than his namesake, Woody Allen

Music Hip hop
112117_hoodieallen_AP Courtesy: Steven Taylor/for PhillyVoice

Hoodie Allen appears Friday, Nov. 24 at Union Transfer.

Long Island-based pop-rapper Hoodie Allen may have started his career in hip hop with dedication to his namesake, Woody Allen. Yet, almost a decade since his goofy, initial “frat raps” during an Alpha Epsilon Pi-hosted party at the University of Pennsylvania, and recordings such as “Bagels & Beats,” Hoodie has a different sense of his destiny. There’s no longer a need to just be funny for funny’s sake. 

“I wouldn't say it's a responsibility because I think as an artist you can do whatever you want, but I personally gravitate now toward making stuff to be escapist for fans,” said Allen. “For me, a lot of that means making things that are always happy, and often have a sense of humor.”

Yet not exclusively funny, as he’s made his mark beyond the yuks with 2016’s “Happy Camper” album, its 2017 follow-up, “The Hype,” and a tour that brings him to Union Transfer on Friday, Nov. 24.

“I think I've always seen myself as the underdog despite how cliché that may be,” said Allen, considering that until the widely charting “Happy Camper” album, he was an underground success with more internet hits than sales. “My drive to continue showing people what I'm all about definitely shaped what “The Hype” became. Lyrically and sonically, I think it touches on places and ideas where I haven't gone before. It is not afraid to show the diversity of influences that always inspired me to be an artist.”

Calling himself a sarcastic optimist, Hoodie has always maintained a career on the independent tip, releasing his own singles, EPs, LPs, and managing his own tours. When “Happy Camper” hit #1 on the independent charts, Allen could have written his own ticket to ride in major label land for “The Hype.” Instead, he decided to chart his own course, again.

“See, though, that’s really all I know,” offered Allen on being his own boss. “I've seen too many friends sign and get shelved. I've been lucky to have a die-hard fan base, and they don't care about anything but getting the music. Putting a potential roadblock between me and them would do more harm than good. Being my own CEO is as frustrating as it is liberating. I love the power it allows me to navigate my destiny - even when the days are way long - because I know it will set me up for future endeavors as well.”

On his new album, “The Hype,” the man who once sang “I’m Larry David plus Miles Davis,” examined his life since 2012, and came up with everything from the slow blues of "Know It All" (“I just sort of turn off my brain and let my feelings sort themselves out”), to the hard-luck relationship story of “Running Circles.” Hoodie calls “Running Circles” a thesis statement for the rest of “The Hype” as if looking to pass a master class in rap lyricism.

“I think all of this album deals in real people and real relationships, with me examining being a musician, full time, for five years, and occasionally feeling like I'm doing a ‘Groundhog’s Day,’ wondering if this should be a sign to keep going or to be discouraged,” he said. “There are always ups and downs and personal growths, but it's about feeling like being back at square one and wondering whether to take it as a challenge or a new opportunity. “

New opportunities or old, one thing that Hoodie Allen is famous for is being wildly identifiable and accessible to his fans – always willing to hang out and take photos after shows, always into the social media aspects of his business. Will that change with greater fame?

“It won't. It's completely up to the artist, you know? Many people do change, but, I haven't seen any reason to because I love being accessible and personable with fans. I know thousands of fans by name at this point. I look forward to seeing them when I'm on tour.”

Hoodie Allen appears Friday, November 24 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street. Tickets are $30. Show times are 8 p.m. nightly. For more information call, 215-232-2100 or click here.