Hoodie Allen At The El Rey Theatre
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By Brent Burns
The El Rey Theatre, one of the best settings for promoters to book some of the best talent in the country, is a designated Historic-Cultural Monument currently serving as a live music venue in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles.
"El rey" means "the king" in Spanish, so it's a fitting venue for New York-based rapper/songwriter Hoodie Allen, a man who holds the chief authority over the infamous Hoodie Mob. A preeminent talent and role model, Allen leads by a follow-your-dreams example. "Make every word count" has been his longtime mantra. It just so happens that Allen's penchant for candid storytelling and witty punch lines builds a bridge between his lyrics and open-eared audiences who have come to relish his unconventional hip-hop. They were out in droves for his May 9 performance in Los Angeles.
Allen performed a collection of new and old songs, frequently leading the crowd in a sing-along as he swung the microphone over them. He maneuvered across the stage with an energetic spring in his step, connecting with the crowd from start to finish. Allen's lead guitarist/background vocalist played with just as much sweat and passion. In the blink of an eye, Allen and his guitarist would switch sides as if attempting to defy gravity. The stage plot wouldn't be complete without a live drummer banging on the kick and snare. Two-thirds of the way through the set, Allen exited along with Kyle, his DJ and a small entourage peaking in from stage left. The spotlight narrowed in on the drummer for an impressive solo, one that had the crowd questioning if he had a few extra arms. This gave the team a quick breather before performing the final portion of the show.
I caught wind of Allen on Aug. 4, 2010, when he submitted his track, "Words Of Wisdom," to my blog, Kickkicksnare.com. Since then, I feel like a proud parent in the bleachers, watching a kid playing Little League, except Allen went right past T-ball and started in the Major Leagues, as his talent has never been intermediate or typical. I've also never met an artist so genuinely interested in feedback from his fan base.
Best known for his free mixtapes, Pep Rally and Leap Year, Allen is part of a new generation of pop-rappers, trafficking clever lyricism and infectious melodies. Similar to Mac Miller, Asher Roth and Kosha Dillz, Allen's approachability is key. He has always been an artist that understands the importance of connecting with his audience. Unlike the samples in his previous material, Allen's new album, All American, is entirely original. Allen and his longtime collaborator, producer RJF, built all the beats by scratch. It's the first piece of work Allen has put up for sale and it hit No. 1 on the iTunes chart. The album is undeniably catchy and tailor-made for crossover radio.
If Allen's dream and desire is to create music that people love, I'm happy to report that Allen has long surpassed this obvious achievement. And what's not to love? He sets an example that should be emulated by others as a role model for following his dreams, and for being independent and relying on his talents. Allen also fully appreciates that his art and dedication to his career wouldn't exist without the support of his fans.
"Song For An Actress"
"No Faith In Brooklyn"
"The Chase Is On"
Medley of covers
"Can't Hold Me Down"
"Joy & Misery"
"Swimming With Sharks"
"Soul On Fire"
"Top Of The World"
"You Are Not A Robot"
To catch Hoodie Allen in a city near you, click here for tour dates.