Welcome back to Takeover Tuesday, where each week, Billboard taps chart-topping artists and tastemakers to compile their very own playlist exclusive to Billboard‘s Spotify account. We give the artists free rein to base the list on whatever subject they choose. The only rule? Make it as creative and unique to them as possible.
Since his first single in 2010, Hoodie Allen has landed five projects on the Billboard 200, reaching the top 10 with 2012’s All American EP and 2014’s People Keep Talking album. Now, the 30-year-old rapper is looking to earn his sixth Billboard 200 chart achievement with his latest LP, Whatever USA, out Friday (Aug. 16). The most impressive part? He’s done it all on his own.
Allen (whose birth name is Steven Markowitz) has self-released every one of his projects, dubbing himself “the king of the underground indie rap scene.” But he’s well aware that he’s not the only one doing big things independently, and he’s dedicating his Takeover Tuesday playlist to his fellow indie stars like Macklemore, Chance the Rapper and Destiny Rogers.
Calling his playlist “No Label, No Problem,” Allen shouts out some of his favorite artists who built their careers in the same way he did. “I wanted to showcase other artists who are killing it completely independent and accordingly deserve more shout outs and love!” he says.
The 10-song playlist includes Chance’s 2012 10 Day cut “Hey Ma,” crowning Chano “the king of doing it indie and proving there is no glass ceiling to doing so.” Hoodie also highlights some rising indie talents like Gianni and Kyle and Spencer Sutherland, both of whom are featured on Whatever USA.
Hoodie Allen will be hitting the road in support of Whatever USA later this month, playing a few shows in the UK before touring all around North America in September and October. Get your tickets here, pre-save the album here, and check out Allen’s odes to his fellow indie artists below.
Aries, “Bad News”: “I remember stumbling upon this guy on YouTube, and when I finally took a second and sank into this project, I was blown away. I feel like with the volume of music that comes out nowadays, it’s so easy to half listen to someone, or passively check them out but not really give it your full time. I don’t know what positive mode I was in, but I gave Aries a real listen, and I’m so grateful I did, because he’s sick.”
Spencer Sutherland, “Sweater”: “I had never met Spencer, but we had mutual friends. He would always tweet at me, and for some reason that gave him this reputation to me as ‘The guy who tweets at me.’ I found the music video for his song ‘Sweater’ and realized I should have been the one tweeting him, because his voice is insane. We became quick friends and now we even collaborated on a track for my new album. Point being, sometimes you can find real gems of talent on the internet.”
Gianni & Kyle, “Close”: “I was searching for an opener for my last tour but wanted someone fresh and new. I kept seeing the name ‘Gianni & Kyle’ pop up, and they had this cool, coordinated artwork for all of their songs. I decided to be bold and message them on Instagram to tell them I was a fan. Six weeks later, we were starting a world tour together, and they are some of my closest music buddies.”
Dylan Joel, “Run to the River”: “I’m always trying to keep my ear to new stuff. Dylan makes the type of music I wish I could make. I will go to the studio thinking I can do what he does, but then it doesn’t turn out as good. He is the future rap singing king all the way from Australia. ‘Run to the River’ is a great example of his catchy tongue-twisting flavor.”
Destiny Rogers, “Tomboy”: “I was instantly hooked when I heard Destiny Rogers. The song is so good, it makes me want to be a Tomboy. Also she’s just so freakin’ cool. I want to grow up to be Destiny Rogers.”
Chance The Rapper feat. Lili K and Peter CottonTale, “Hey Ma”: “This was the first song I heard from him, back in 2012. I immediately knew he was going to be special and somehow got him into the studio to work with me. Four months later, [his mixtape] Acid Rap dropped and his life was forever different. But ‘Hey Ma’ was a special first look into an artist before the world discovers what you already know.”
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “Wing$”: “I remember being at SXSW in 2011 — it was my first time there, and I kept playing shows with these guys Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. They were so nice to me every time, and as soon as I got home, I started admiring all the creative work they had been putting out. Watching M&RL’s special year with The Heist was a true testament to what was years and years of working independently to finally have ‘your’ moment. ‘Wing$’ stood out to me as a time when internet culture was finally about to spread their name to the mainstream.”
Charlotte Lawrence, “Sleep Talking”: “This is possibly my favorite song on this list — I play it all the time. It’s really cool to see Charlotte absolutely blow up because I found out about her initially from her father. She is great proof that sometimes if you just have good music, the audience will find out.”
Imad Royal feat. Gnash, “Bad 4 U”: “I met Imad because he’s a super talented producer who worked with me on songs like ‘Wasting All My Time.’ But besides being a goofy, vibrant, amazing writer and producer, his own stuff is incredible. ‘Bad 4 U’ is one of those songs that I wish I wrote so badly (bad pun…make me stop). He recently became indie again and it makes me happy, because I know he is going to take off now!”
Chelsea Cutler, “Your Shirt”: “Chelsea recently signed a deal, but she built things independently for years, which is saying a lot, because I think she was literally thriving musically while still attending college. She and Jeremy Zucker are proof that if you are talented and stuck in a dorm room, you can make the most of your time and focus your energy into a passion. ‘Your Shirt’ connected so well with people and it didn’t take a major label to do that — it’s just honest and great, like all of Chelsea’s songs.”