Appearing on the emo rap scene a few years ago, Hobo Johnson (aka Frank Lopes Jr.) has seen a steady rise over four years, along with a massive thrust into the limelight with his viral sensation single, ‘Peach Scone’.
With his spoken word influenced blend of hip-hop and rock, his third record ‘The Fall Of Hobo Johnson’ also marks his major label debut with Warner Records.
Opening with urgent vocals and clustered beats, ‘Typical Story’ marries the energy of punk and the discordant chorus with the laconic and laid-back delivery of West Coast hip-hop to deliver a bubbling and defiant introduction to the record. Moving towards choppy piano chords and well-placed breaks, ‘Mover Awayer’ strips away the chaotic layers to reveal the confessional nature of Johnson‘s lyrics. Resting on a simple but deceptive hook, the track glides through confrontational lyrics alongside moving guitars and vocal samples.
As the record continues, it becomes clear that Johnson has harnessed a strong representation of his sound, moving around multiple influences with ease and tied together by a relaxed flow and a solid backing band. Tracks such as ‘Uglykid’ sits within contemporary jazz yet doesn’t seem out of place, whilst ‘You & The Cockroach’ delivers a lesson on human evolution with a charismatic humour.
After showcasing his clever wordplay and chameleonic genre hopping, ‘Subaru Crosstrek XV’ touches on The Neptunes style R&B with an honest humour that drives it forward before focusing on stripped down intimacy with the piano-led ‘Happiness’. As the record progresses, Johnson‘s fixation on rejection can become one note, but luckily the diverse production and devil may care attitude towards hooks helps keep momentum.
Bringing back a strong energy after the mid-paced ‘All In My Head’, ‘Ode To Justin Bieber’ delivers a barbed take on celebrity culture wrapped in chop style rapping. With a beat that moves around liquid synths and driving horns, the ever-changing dynamics of the track saves it from becoming stale.
In keeping with a loose style, the final cuts of the record distils the charm of Johnson, with the revised rendition of ‘February 15th’ displaying a raw emotion as ‘Sorry, My Dear’ exercises the experimental genre hopping that has been present throughout.
Ending on the simple yet catchy ‘I Want A Dog’, the track sums up the record. Whilst it may not break barriers, ‘The Fall Of Hobo Johnson’ delivers a collection of honest yet concise tracks that move past the emo rap genre.