Hoodie SZN: Artist Goes Back to His Roots

A Boogie wit da Hoodie’s latest album Hoodie SZN has so far been quite the success, charting at #2 on the Billboard 200 and debuting at #1 on Apple Music ahead of 21 Savage’s I Am>I Was. Hoodie SZN was an album that I and other A Boogie fans have been waiting months for him to drop since he released his international-influenced EP International Artist, and I must say that it was well worth the wait. For those who were big fans of A Boogie’s debut album Artist, Hoodie SZN is a welcome return to the music that made him so popular in the first place. Hoodie SZN is full of fun bangers with plenty of features, great production and infectious melodies, and while I still prefer his more R&B-infused The Bigger Artist, Hoodie SZN is a refreshing return to some of his most notable songs like “Jungle” and “Still Think About You.”

While I loved the album on the whole, the first song on the track, “Voices In My Head,” is one that I wasn’t much of a fan of. There were several things I liked about it, including his varying flows as well as his lyricism, but I just couldn’t really bump to this specific beat production. The beat gets better as the song goes, but this just wasn’t really a song I could see myself listening to on repeat. I also found myself unable to get into the song due to an overall absence of a catchy hook.

The second song on the track, “Beasty,” was a nice bounce-back for me. The first thing I loved about the song was the beat, produced by Kenny Beats and KillaGraham, which starts out a bit ambiguous, and then really goes in once A Boogie’s verse starts. One of the things I love most about the song is A Boogie’s varying flows, a real staple of his music. For me, it’s hard not to like A Boogie given how easily he’s able to change up his sound with his flows. You can hear his flow change about five or six times in this one songs, which keeps the listener engaged throughout. The hook near the end of the song was also extremely catchy and did well to mirror one of the melodies near the middle of the song. And speaking of melodies, it was cool to hear A Boogie reference his daughter “Melody” before returning to the hook to finish the song.

The third song “I Did It,” is another really catchy song with a catchy beat. Like in his previous song, A Boogie goes back to varying his flows, including a hook that’s even more catchy and pronounced. This hook is one of the catchiest in the entire album in my opinion, and the bass of the beat does really well to complement it. I also really appreciated the reference to the late XXXTentacion with the lines “bad vibes when I close my eyes yeah/Like X put it on my eyelids/ Like X nigga imma die rich.” Overall this was a really enjoyable song for someone who really appreciates catchy hooks.

The next song “Swervin,” featuring 6ix9ine was another song that I really wasn’t a fan of, mainly due to the fact that I can’t stand most of 6ix9ine’s music. While there are plenty of people that will like this song, especially most 6ix9ine fan’s, I simply could not get past his screamo-like sound. The two positives I have for this song are the the beat, courtesy of London on da Track, and the hook. I think this song would’ve been solid if 6ix9ine wasn’t in it, especially considering how catchy the hook is.

However, the Highbridge artist redeems himself again with the next song “Startender,” featuring Offset and Tyga, which he released as a single. This is probably one of the hardest and catchiest songs on the album in my opinion, and I thought Offset and Tyga did really well with their verses, especially Tyga. I think he and Offset work really well as a combo, and were a really nice contrast to A Boogie’s melodic sound. I also thought T-Minus did a really good job with the layered beats, with some xylophone sounds on the onset followed by the bass going into A Boogie’s hook.

The following song, “Demons & Angels,” featuring Juice WRLD is one that I surprisingly didn’t really like. Considering how much of a fan I am of Juice WRLD, I was expecting this song to be one of my favorites. Yet, while I don’t think Juice WRLD took away much from the song, I don’t think he really added much either. He’s very melodic in this song, and while I like Juice WRLD a lot for his melodies, I would’ve liked to see him get a bit more creative with his verses, especially since A Boogie is already melodic enough on his own. Juice WRLD sounded much more like a Lil Uzi Vert or Lil Yachty in this song and I would’ve appreciated a bit more of a rap sound from him like what we hear from Tyga and Offset rather than just more melodies. Overall, I think this song could’ve worked with just A Boogie on the track.

The next song “Love Drugs and Sex,” was again, a nice bounce-back. What I loved most about this song was the beat production, courtesy of Wolf Boy Media, which starts out slow and melancholy, and then picks up with the bass once A Boogie’s part begins. This soft piano sound mixed with the hard bass can be heard throughout, which then transitions to a more electronic sound before the hook begins with the bass remaining constant. After the hook, the beat returns to the piano and bass and then changes back to the electronic sound again. Overall I thought Wolf Boy Media got really creative with this beat and showed a lot of ingenuity.

Probably my favorite song on the album, “Skeezers,” was quite a pleasant surprise in my opinion. I wasn’t sure of what to think of a song called “Skeezers,” but I must say it has one of the catchiest hooks on the album and is one of his most melodic. A Boogie immediately comes out of the gate with the hook which is what really caught my attention. This is maybe the first song on the album where he does this, and I think he recognizes how catchy the hook is which is why he began the song with it. I also really liked the beat from The Atomix which is ever-present with the bass but never too overpowering for A Boogie’s voice. I really liked the whole intro overall as you can hear what sounds like a guitar strumming along with A Boogie’s voice in the background which goes along with the guitar sounds really well. When A Boogie’s verse actually begins, the beat tapers off from the bass into a more electronic sound, and then picks up again going into the hook. Near the end you can hear the guitar strumming again, and overall I really liked what The Atomix did with this song. I think A Boogie’s choice of producers in this album is really strong in general.  Similarly to “Beasty,” A Boogie’s flow also changes several times throughout his melodies which kept me engaged from beginning to end. Since this album dropped, I’ve had this song on repeat on multiple occasions.

The next song “Savage,” is another song produced by The Atomix that I really enjoyed. The beat begins with an electronic twinkling like sound which then transitions into a harder bass-sounding beat with the twinkling remaining in the background once the hook starts. This is yet another hook that I really loved, and if you love A Boogie like I do, then his hooks and melodies are a big reason for that. While A Boogie’s flow doesn’t change too much as this song progresses, I respect this creative decision and think this song does well enough with no change in flow. I think he’s able to get away with this even more so due to how good the beat is and how well it goes with his constant flow.

The following song “Come Closer,” featuring Queen Naija was maybe my second favorite song on the album for several reasons. Produced by SkipOnDaBeat and Hitmaka, this song has maybe the most creative beat on the album in my opinion. The song starts out with an acoustic sound going into A Boogie’s first verse followed by some percussion, which is then infused by bass as the A Boogie’s verse continues. Overall I really liked how gradual the layering of the beats were and thought SkipOnDaBeat and Hitmaka did an excellent job with this. I hadn’t heard of Queen Naija before this song, but I must say I really liked her sound and vocals a lot. I especially liked the story of the song and how her verse contrasts with A Boogie’s. She makes it clear in her verse that she doesn’t need A Boogie and she can “take trips to the islands alone,” not needing an “Uber” because she “drives a Rover.” My favorite aspect of the song is the final hook, in which I thought A Boogie’s melodic voice was enhanced greatly by Queen Naija’s background vocals. Overall I really liked the sounds these two produced together, and I would love to hear more music from them moving forward.

The next song “Look Back At It,” which was originally released as a single with “Startender,” was a song I admittedly didn’t like at first, but really enjoyed once the album dropped. Perhaps the song sounded better with the rest of the album, which can sometimes be the case. Like most of his songs, “Look Back At It” has another catchy hook, which samples heavily from Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time.” This is hardly surprising given A Boogie’s adoration for the “King of Pop.” One of the interesting things about this song is the lack of rap verses, which is an area that I think A Boogie really separates himself from the rest of the XXL crowd. A Boogie knows how good his melodies are and that he can make a song with just melodies. This is one of those songs where A Boogie really establishes himself as an “artist” in comparison to his rap counterparts.

Another song I really liked was “Just Like Me,” featuring Young Thug. One aspect of this song that I really liked was the tropical dancehall-inspired beat, along with Young Thug’s verse that complements that beat really well. A Boogie’s hook also goes along with that beat really well too. The beat actually evaporates a bit in the latter half of A Boogie’s hook, and instead you can simply hear A Boogie’s vocals along with Young Thug’s higher pitched background vocals which I really liked. I also liked how subtle the beat is during A Boogie’s hook, in which only a piano and some soft percussion can be heard, which really brings out A Boogie’s voice. Overall I really liked this song and thought it was very reminiscent of A Boogie’s EP International Artist.

The following song “Bosses and Workers,” featuring Don Q and Trap Manny is another banger and another one of my favorite songs on the album. I like most of A Boogies and Don Q’s collaboration, but it was really Trap Manny’s hook that really did it for me. I thought his flow during the hook went really well with the beat, produced by Chris Rose and Ghost. This beat also begins with an acoustic sound which gets layered by bass once Trap Manny’s hook starts. All in all I thought Don Q and Trap Manny’s deeper sound contrasted really well with A Boogie’s softer vocals. This song actually reminded me quite a bit of the single “Proud of Me Now,” featuring Lil Bibby.

The next song “Need A Best Friend,” featuring Lil Quee and Quando Rondo was another song I was hoping I’d like due to the Quando Rondo feature. In comparison to the Juice WRLD feature, I actually really liked this song and Quando Rondo’s hook. Considering how similarly A Boogie and Quando Rondo sound, I wasn’t sure if this song would sound a bit redundant. Overall though, I thought Quando Rondo killed the hook and contrasted enough with A Boogie’s sound to keep me interested. I think this song would’ve sounded a bit different if A Boogie was the only one on the song, so all in all I thought Quando Rondo was a really nice feature. I also really liked Lil Quee’s verse as well.

“The Reaper,” again produced by The Atomix, was another banger in an album full of them. Again I thought The Atomix did a great job with the beat, creating an eerie piano-based sound that again gets infused by bass once the A Boogie’s verse starts. The cadence of the beat actually sounds a bit similar to “Skeezers” also produced by The Atomix, but I still didn’t think the sound was redundant at all. In general I think some of A Boogie’s best songs are those that are featureless, and I’m glad there was a fair amount of those on this album. “The Reaper” is another song that I think A Boogie killed on his own with his mixture of melodies and rap verses. I also thought his flows went really well with his hook, which is common in a lot of his songs.

While I wasn’t a fan of his next song “Uptown / Bustdown,” featuring PnB Rock and Lil Durk, the following Michael Jackson inspired song, “Billie Jean,” was another song I really rocked with. This is another song that reminded me a lot of the sound from A Boogie’s debut album Artist, as well as some songs from The Bigger Artist like “No Promises” and “No Comparison.” I liked the vocals A Boogie opened up the song with, and again I enjoyed A Boogie’s flows throughout. I also liked how A Boogie mirrored the vocals he used at the beginning of the song near the end of the song. As for the rest of the album, I felt like A Boogie fell of a little bit, as I wasn’t really a fan of “4 Min Convo (Favorite Song),” “Odee,” or “Pull Up” featuring NAV. All in all though, I really enjoyed listening to this album which was filled with excellent beat production and even better hooks and melodies. If you liked Artist, then you’ll probably enjoy this album even more. I would love to see A Boogie go back to his R&B sound a bit more in his next album Artist 2, which I heard is supposed to be featureless which I’m really excited about. I really think some of his best songs are featureless, so I strongly believe that album could be his best work yet.

Final Rating: 8.5/10