drive-driver-driving-1007944By Kat DeSantis and Josh Gastineau

Elm Staff Writers

While driving to Betterton Beach last Friday night with a few of my friends, I was stunned by the music that began to play. The words spitting through the speakers resembled rap, but I found myself more engaged with the voice than with the frenzy of the tempo.

Hobo Johnson’s song “Romeo and Juliet” was playing, and I had never been more intrigued. What makes Johnson’s songwriting so compelling is that he uses spoken word poetry to express his thoughts and feelings on the truly raw aspects of life.

The 23-year-old describes to listeners his parent’s divorce, falling in and out of love with girls, and other aspects of life as if he was simply talking to himself in the mirror. Johnson provokes distinct emotional responses from each listener that makes us connect with his music and think about life in a unique way.

As both a young rapper and spoken word poet, Johnson is more than “nothing special,” as one of his lyrics claim. His words are like matches, and they ignite deep thoughts from inside everyone who listens.

Johnson and his group “the LoveMakers” started producing music in 2015. Johnson’s upward battle in the music industry began on uncertain terms, when he was kicked out of his home and disowned at 19 after his parents’ divorce.

His lyrics often illustrate the traumatic experiences of both his early childhood and his adult life. This gives his music an extremely personal quality that hits home for listeners who’ve gone through similar hardships.

This March, Johnson and his group released the song “Peach Scone” for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert video series, and the song has reached over 10 million views on YouTube.

The reason Johnson stands out to me is because of the imagery he produces through his words. When the music can paint such a vivid picture in my brain, it keeps me interested in hearing more.

As someone who regularly reads and writes poetry, Johnson speaks to me because of the artistic flow of his rap. Though the way he expresses his emotions, I think, is something that connects with listeners in a rawer, deeper way than traditional poetry does.

Johnson puts his fears of judgment aside and speaks directly to listeners as his true self. This is admirable, and makes me feel connected with the artist.

Luckily for listeners, Johnson’s music — such as his 2015 debut album “Hobo Johnsons 94 Corolla” and his second album, “The Rise of Hobo Johnson” of 2017 — can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, or SoundCloud.

Although some might consider him as just another run-of-the-mill “street rapper,” I believe his music would be better characterized as art.

Speaking from the soul and prompting similar emotions in others, Hobo Johnson is an artist you definitely want to listen to.

The Elm

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