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Plainview rapper Hoodie Allen takes proactive approach to his music

The Plainview native has big plans to self-promote his latest release, which features a variety of styles.

Rapper Hoodie Allen makes both music and connections.

Rapper Hoodie Allen makes both music and connections. Photo Credit: Steven Taylor

Hoodie Allen has never been one to wait for things to happen.

After all, the Plainview native did leave a promising job at Google to pursue his career as a rapper, launching his own label to make it happen in 2011. Two Top 10 albums and a No. 1 rap album later — last year’s “Happy Camper” — and not much has changed.

“I like being proactive,” says Allen, calling from a tour stop in Texas. “I have no label, no manager. . . . You have to make things happen for yourself.”

Allen says he is planning to push “Ain’t Ready,” from his recent album “The Hype” (Hoodie Allen), to radio as a single, even though most commercial radio stations’ playlists are overwhelmingly filled with major-label acts.

“I think that it’s a song that could sound great on the musical landscape right now,” he says of the dance-leaning track that would fit in well between songs from Justin Bieber and the One Direction guys’ solo singles. “I can’t sit and wait, letting that moment pass.”

Even Allen admits that it’s an uphill battle getting a song on commercial radio without help from a major label. “Oh, it’s nearly impossible,” he says, laughing. “But every year there’s a couple of songs that do it. Why can’t this be one of those songs? If you don’t try you’ll never know. ‘You have to try’ is what’s gotten me here in the first place.”

That attitude informs pretty much everything Allen does, whether it’s putting out a musically diverse album like “The Hype” or bringing a full band on tour with him to bring the wide array of his musical ideas to life.

“I made a lot of songs when I was working on this album — more than 40 songs,” he says. “I wanted to find a way to thread it together, but then you run the risk of being repetitive.”

Allen opted to use a variety of musical styles and tie them together with his trademark clever lyrics. One of the biggest departures is the rocking “All My Friends” with indie rockers State Champs helping him out. “I’d met them at Leeds and Reading festivals and we really hit it off,” he says, adding that even though the band is from upstate New York, it does remind him of the bands he grew up listening to in the Long Island music scene. “I grew up in a time when Long Island was a hotbed for rock from pop-emo to hard core. I definitely have a lot of that in my blood. In an alternate universe, I may have been in a rock band perhaps. But I don’t like the idea of boxing yourself into one sound.”

He certainly shows that early in “The Hype,” when he moves from the pop-leaning “All for Me” with Pentatonix’s Scott Hoying to the trap-influenced “Fakin” with Wale.

Allen’s outside-the-box ideas even extend to how he promotes his album. “The majority of my fans buy my music,” he says. “I’m more organically discovered rather than found because I’m getting played on popular playlists. It comes from hustling.”

In this era where more and more fans simply stream their favorite albums rather than purchasing them separately, Allen recognizes that it means something more if fans buy his album. Allen decided that he would pick three different fans who preordered “The Hype” and spend the day with them. “I thought, ‘Why can’t I do something fun for them?’ ” he says. “It was a great way to get to know three different fans and we now have this forever bond. It’s something I won’t forget. I feel lucky to be in this position. That’s what this is all about.”

In a way, Allen, who is already at work on a new mixtape he hopes to release early next year, uses his social media knowledge to forge a deeper bond with his fans. “Technology and social media allows for it,” he says. “It helps knowing what the fans think. I sent close to 15,000 text messages to people who bought the album. They provide me with such great information about what kind of experiences they want.”

Allen says he enjoys the personal connection with fans. “I want to do it,” he says. “I want to be a different kind of artist.”

However, Allen says that when his tour reaches New York, as it will on Saturday, Nov. 25, at PlayStation Theater, it’s a different kind of connection. “New York is always amazing,” he says. “There may be some special guests, but it’s also a chance to see all my friends from home who have been seeing me since I was 16 years old. . . . It’s such a good show to look forward to.”

WHO Hoodie Allen

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, PlayStation Theater, 1515 Broadway, Manhattan

INFO $34.50; 888-929-7849, axs.com

THE HOODIE MOB

On his new album, “The Hype,” Hoodie Allen teams up with Pentatonix’s Scott Hoying, rapper Wale and rockers State Champs. “Those songs all come from friendships,” he says. “It’s a sign of the diversity of friends that I have.” It’s a diversity that his collaborations have shown throughout his career. Here’s a look at some other members of the Hoodie Mob:

ED SHEERAN

The “Shape of You” singer-songwriter didn’t just appear on “All About It” from Allen’s 2014 album, “People Keep Talking,” he suited up as a superhero (“X” Man, get it?) with Allen for the song’s video.

CHANCE THE RAPPER

Grammy-winning rapper, activist and Kit Kat salesman, Chance the Rapper dropped some impressive rhymes on “Long Night” on Allen’s 2013 album, “Crew Cuts.”

BLACKBEAR

The rapper who co-wrote Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” and has created Mansionz with Mike Posner teamed up with Allen for “Surprise Party” and “Champagne and Pools” on 2016’s “Happy Camper” album.

— GLENN GAMBOA

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