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  • Writer's pictureThe Real Ding

GET TO KNOW: Hoodie Rob Uzumaki

Photo: Alexis Pulmano

Having already established himself with a wealth of captivating releases this past year, fast-rising artist Hoodie Rob Uzumaki is back to his vibrant best once again with the breezy new single 'what is love'.

Capturing more of that warm and inviting aesthetic he has been developing in recent years, 'what is love' marks one of his more heartfelt offerings to date. With its broad and tantalising atmosphere perfectly set to his passionate vocals throughout, he is certainly looking to turn some heads with this one.

So with the new single available to stream now, we sat down with him to find out more about his origins and influences over the years.

What was the first band or artist you fell in love with? 

It was Green Day, the Dookie album specifically - I was younger than I could remember (first grade I think) and my dad brought me to a superbowl party his college friend was having. On the drive home he played me Dookie and told me a little about the band, but didn’t say too much, so naturally I made it my mission to find out everything I could about them. Music was just a domino effect from there. By first grade my favorite band was the Goo Goo Dolls and actually still is. I saw them at the Jones Beach amphitheater last year and it was one of the best experiences of my life.. I’m lucky my dad put me onto a lot of good music when I was really young, that was the start of me falling in love with music and obsessing over the process of making it. I was in first grade coming back to my dad asking him to deeper meaning for lyrics of songs he showed me. It taught me at a really young age that music is a vessel to seeing life from someone else’s perspective, which is more powerful than any of us actually realize. My dad doesn’t remember showing me Dookie on the car ride home, he was just playing music he loved and rambling to me about it. For me, that car ride was where I really fell in love with music and got my first feeling that I NEEDED to learn how to make it myself. 

Did you ever form a band when you were younger and if so, what did they sound like? 

I never formed a band, but I took 6 years of drum lessons and 3 years of guitar lessons before 7th grade. I tried to teach myself as much piano as I could in middle school by watching people play songs I liked and literally watching and copying their fingers. I never actually got very good but keyboards are one thing I’m really focused on getting better at now. As someone who lives by the all-or-nothing mentality, I eventually had to choose between focusing on music or playing college basketball, and I chose playing college basketball. The experience was great and taught me a lot, but after 2 years I realized I made the wrong decision and dropped out (for the first time) to come back to music. That was when I got my first FL studio license, and also the first feeling of relief I had gotten since my brother died 4 years earlier. I knew I was searching for something but I didn’t know what for, and it felt like I finally got the perfect canvas I had been looking for - perfect size, shape, texture, feel, and freedom to do what I felt like I was made for. 

What has been your primary inspiration in writing music? 

It was a mix of ADHD and wanting to help people the same way that some of my favorite artists helped me when I was in really terrible places. I was always obsessive with music, but wasn’t until I revisited it (with a bunch of fucked up mental problems and trauma to come with it) that I got really passionate about making my own. When I got deeper into experimental vocal mixing, I realized your voice is really just another instrument that most people haven’t been exposed to the experimental side of yet. It made me really obsessive about creating again and gave me an outlet that spits out things people relate to, and a lot of the time heals a little bit as a result. Music stopped me from suicide when I was in the worst place I’ve ever been. It was first and foremost a way of expression, but if I can help some people along the way it makes everything worth it. 

What is a song you wish you had written yourself? 

Star Shopping, by Lil Peep. People try to write our genre off as corny when a lot of the songs that came from it saved more people than you could ever imagine one song could. That song breaks the third wall perfectly, one of those songs where you feel a sixth sense - a level of comfort you can’t really put into words, but hits you harder than you knew possible. Play it for anybody that knows it and you can see the chills run through their body from the first guitar note. Shit, even the cover art brings you back to the soundcloud drop right away. That’s why I think the best music is more than just music, it’s a moment in time. Think of your favorite song of all time, and I bet you can remember when you heard it for the very first time. Sometimes it’s a good memory, sometimes it’s a bad one but you still remember the song comforting you in that moment. That feeling is what makes music good to me. 

If there was any moment in your career you could relive, what would it be? 

Opening for Sewerperson last year when I still lived in NYC. My set went better than I could’ve imagined, I was the 3rd or 4th performer and I brought my own crowd out and started the first mosh pit. I met sewerperson at the show the day before I wasn’t performing at, and we got to chop it up and I mentioned I was opening for him the next day. He came up to me all hype after my set telling me I had killed it - it was a completely full circle moment to hear that from one of the artists that not only saved me but inspired me to start releasing my own music. It motivated me a lot to keep going, and showed me that your biggest goals are more achievable than you think. 

Which artist would you most love to share a stage with? 

That’s a hard question, my dream when I started was to get some collabs with Juice Wrld. After he died it was hard because nobody had the same impact on me at the time, it felt like I didn’t really have any inspiration left. In all honesty, Juice Wrld saved my life at the one point in my life I was legitimately suicidal. There’s only been a couple people I feel have risen up in that type of sound without sounding corny, like DC the Don and Dro Kenji. I would really love to share a stage with DC the Don, I feel like he’s the only person in my lane that has the same versatility as me. We can both go from rapping to making some acoustic campfire-ass song about our emotions. I think our energy would match really well on stage too. Our type of music is sensitive - even though we have songs to turn up to, most of the music is pretty fucking emotionally intense. It gives the listeners a deeper level of comfort when they feel like something is authentic and they relate to it, more comfort than they get from their everyday environment or support system if they have one, which a lot of people don’t. For some of these kids we’re really the only people they feel like understands them, which is intense but really powerful. 

And is there an artist you would love to collaborate with as well? 

I want a collab record with NoCap, I think he’s the hardest rapper out right now. I like how he can spit real bars while keeping the lyrics emotionally raw and authentic, that’s something I admire and take a lot of inspiration from. I think trying to match him on wordplay would be fun and a good growth opportunity, even if it’s impossible. That’s been my biggest inspiration for the past 2 years, so it would also be dope to see his process in the studio. 

Where do you see yourself in five years time? 

I don’t really like the question, I have a really hard time perceiving myself and it’s always been hard for me to see a long-term life for myself. I’m working on it and meeting my girlfriend now has made years of progress, but getting old always seemed boring as fuck if I’m being honest. I measure my progress on what I’ve contributed to the world and how many people I’ve been able to help. Sometimes it can be really overwhelming. Some of these kids really don’t have anyone to relate to, and I’m grateful to be in a position where they relate and feel comfortable enough to reach out to me. It’s still hard to help someone else’s suicidal thoughts when you can’t keep a grip on your own, but that’s just what comes with the privilege of having an audience that relates to you. I accepted that responsibility when I started. Ever since I accepted that, I felt like more of an entity that’s just here to make music. I love making music, but I want my art to contribute more than just maxing out my bank account. I spent almost all my time in high-school playing basketball, we would just bounce from one gym to the next all day. I remember one time me and two friends came out of the rec center in Yonkers on a Saturday night and passed a really bloody crime scene down the road while we was driving away. The next morning I turned on the news, which is something I don’t ever really do. They were covering the stabbing we drove past, and less than a minute later one of my homies that was with me called me and asked me to drive him to the hospital; it was actually one of his best friends that was laying there bloody on the pavement when we were leaving the rec center. I already got into some really dumb shit in highschool, and I’m really glad I had basketball to stop me from doing even dumber shit because I know EXACTLY how dumb it would’ve been. Since then I’ve always had a dream of opening a Rec Center in Yonkers with tutoring. Free membership for everyone in Yonkers, but if your GPA isn’t good enough you have mandatory (free) tutoring. That’s the type of thing I think about - I’m always gonna make music, but if I get money with it then what am I gonna do with it to contribute more before I die? Obviously I want to get my future wife a birkin bag, a ring so rare it blinds every room we walk into, some dope art, and some real estate, but I want my music to have more impact than my person. I try to keep my music process focused around the art, but once I start getting serious money from it I still want to think more about what I can contribute back to society than stupid shit like grammys - we all know they’re rigged anyways, and most of those artists haven’t had a heart to heart with a fan in their life, it’s all about the money and numbers. I went through a bad period where the numbers were really fucking with my head so I try to avoid thinking about them now.  At the end of the day I just want a community where I can survive off making my art and leave this world helping a lot more people than I ever hurt.

Hoodie Rob Uzumaki's new single 'what is love' is out now. Listen to it below.


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