If you’re anything like me, you probably started the day by recognizing that the start of a new work week had indeed arrived and then immediately began shaking your fists at the sky in anger. Monday is rarely anyone’s favorite day, and from what I have seen firsthand it feels safe to say it’s the one day of the week some people outright hate. I guess to them the arrival of the work week symbolizes the end of their quote/unquote freedom, and as a result they head into the office/factory/restaurant/store with a negative outlook already on their mind. This leads to bad attitudes, which only makes the experience of being at work worse, and for some reason it also seems to make time slow to a crawl. We’re not about that life, and we hope this post can do the same you that the song contained within it did for us.
A few weeks ago something happened that has only happened once or twice, if ever, before in the history of music. While everyone in the industry was busy debating whether or not Kanye’s new album would arrive on time, New York rapper Hoodie Allen released a new LP entitled Happy Camper that would go on to chart in the top 10 on the Billboard 200 despite being made available for free download through the emcee’s official website. Yes, you read that right. Even though Hoodie Allen made his latest album available for free through his website there were literally thousands of fans across the country willing to shell out $10 to support Hoodie’s efforts. In fact, demand was so high that at certain points during release week Happy Camper was outselling recent albums from pop contemporaries Justin Bieber, G-Eazy, and Adele, all without the aide of a label.
This is all impressive and absolutely worthy of praise, but it’s not exactly the kind of thing that happened out of the blue. Anyone familiar with Hoodie Allen’s work ethic would expect nothing less than success from the twenty-something charmer. Since graduating from the University Of Pennsylvania there has rarely been a day where Hoodie wasn’t working towards developing his own brand in the world of music. His approach to creativity has always strayed from whatever was trending at radio or on your favorite rap blog, focusing instead on finding a sound entirely his own that was just as fun and engaging as anything found in the top 40. Hoodie realized early on in his career that people want to have a good time when they listen to music, and he set his sights on offering just that with every release he shared. Now two albums in to a career that also includes three EPs, Hoodie has perfected his recipe for hits, and Happy Camper offers the best material the still young artist has created to date.
My first encounter with Hoodie Allen came as a result of his personalized marketing efforts. Unlike many emcees on the rise who have their friends, managers, or publicists handle their press outreach, Hoodie has always taken a vested interest in every bit of messaging shared on his behalf. The same email he used to contact me half a decade ago is the same account he uses today, and if you email him out of the blue he will more than likely respond in 24-72 hours. For a man currently topping the Billboard charts while also headlining a sold out nationwide tour, that kind of turnaround is downright astounding. Such constant engagement not only speaks to Hoodie’s drive to succeed, but also his desire to stay connected with those who help establish and further his brand. Hoodie wants to be everyone’s friend, and he matches that wish with actual effort that speaks volumes about the type of person he is away from music. That kind of sincerity cannot be bought (though there are services that will try and tell you otherwise).
I cannot recall whether or not I fell for Hoodie’s unique brand of music when it first hit my inbox, but by the time he released his now famous clip for “Cake Boy” in early 2013 I had purchased a lifetime pass for the Hoodie Allen bandwagon. Something about that track and the vision of carefree good times it promoted clicked with my post-grad brain and lifted me from the slums of unemployment I had found myself in up to that point. I still didn’t have a job, but that was okay because I knew who I was and what I wanted out of life. Hoodie’s success showed me that knowing where it is you want to go is half the battle, and that knowing what you will and will not do to get there is equally important. I then understood that while my struggle for work was hard it was also something that could lead me to the place I wanted to be in life, and that made everything sacrifice just a bit easier. I knew, in time, every effort made would not have been executed in vein.
Nearly three years to the day “Cake Boy” hit the net and I am still turning to Hoodie Allen for inspiration. I like to think I have reached the place I wanted to be when I first felt inspired by Hoodie’s rap, so now I am setting my sights a little bit higher. Like Hoodie, I want to see just how far I can take this wild road that I am on, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to maintain my quality of life as long as it does not require me to sacrifice who I am. That is a line I dare not cross because I know it will only lead to regret down the road. Staying true to yourself is never easy, but if Hoodie’s continued success is proof of anything it’s that people support original thinkers. Remember that fact and use that knowledge to pursue whatever it is you desire to the best of your abilities. Success probably won’t come overnight, but if you stick with it others will take notice of your hustle in time and they will begin to show support. Just be patient and believe in yourself. If you need additional help, put on Happy Camper and let your worries melt away.
James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder ofAntique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.