Hailing from Sacramento, the “Peach Scone” vocalist got his name after getting kicked out of his house and living in his car, which led to his first album, Hobo Johnson’s 1994 Toyota Corolla.
Teaching himself how to produce and proudly describing his art as “weird s##t,” listeners can’t help but gravitate toward his unique blend of rap and spoken word.
AllHipHop caught up with Hobo, real name Frank Lopes Jr. right after his set at Camp Flog Gnaw, where he performed cuts from his debut album Rise of Hobo Johnson.
AllHipHop: The video for “Romeo and Juliet” is at over 3.3M views on Youtube, did you foresee it blowing up like this?
Hobo Johnson: No. [pause] I mean, you always hope. Every artist thinks their s##t is tighter than it is. So kind of in the back of your mind, you’re like, “this could be really well!”
But not realistically. We have another video (“Peach Scone”) that has like 11M views. I didn’t think “Romeo and Juliet” would get that much, I thought it was just “Peach Scone” and nothing else.
AllHipHop: What did you do with your first advance?
Hobo Johnson: I paid off all my mom’s debt. I rented an apartment, my first house by myself. That’s pretty much it, I didn’t do anything else. I’m saving it. I don’t know, that advance s##t is scary man. Very few artists recoup.
You have to treat your advance as if that’s maybe the only money you’ll get for the rest of your life. I bought a lot of nice s##t, like cameras and guitars, but now, I’m trying to be very frugal.
AllHipHop: Talk about the irony in “The Bring Your Mom Tour.”
Hobo Johnson: I just love moms. I think they’re very nice, majority of the time. I love them. I want more.
AllHipHop: Best memory on tour so far?
Hobo Johnson: We went to Pensacola, Florida. We had an off day, and we went to the beach. Pensacola is like Silverlake meets the Caribbean. It’s kind of jank, but it’s in a beautiful tropical area. It’s a sick ass city, like you have to unbutton your shirt. It’s one of the best cities I’ve ever been to. It’s garbage, but it’s really nice, you know?
AllHipHop: What is it that you want fans to get from your story?
Hobo Johnson: That anyone can do anything. You don’t need to go to school, you just got to trust yourself and be yourself. I think if you care enough, it will work out.
AllHipHop: Did you not go to school?
Hobo Johnson: I went for a couple months. You don’t need a degree rather. I went for Music Composition for a semester and a half, not that long. Just do whatever makes you happy.
AllHipHop: What is your take on the music industry?
Hobo Johnson: I think it’s a very strange thing, but I’ve found people that I feel like I can trust, and I do trust. There’s always an agenda that everyone wants to push, but you need to find the people who will like your shit for you.
AllHipHop: You say you want to collab with Timbaland, did you start off producing then?
Hobo Johnson: Yeah, but I always wanted to put my voice on it, but I’ve been really bad. I was the worst rapper to ever live.
AllHipHop: What made you keep going?
Hobo Johnson: Because I didn’t know what else to do, and it was fun. I liked it. But I was so bad, like the worst. If you heard it, it is laughably bad. And now, I just found my own style.
AllHipHop: Did you study other artists to get better?
Hobo Johnson: No. I think once I listened to Chance, I understood that you’re very free to come up with your own cadences and be weird. That’s a huge influence, Acid Rap Chance. That helped a lot. That’d be crazy too, Chance would be a cool collab.
AllHipHop: Who are some other rappers that have influenced you?
Hobo Johnson: Definitely Kendrick. J.Cole. I really like Mick Jenkins. Back in the day, Lupe Fiasco. Countless others, I just can’t think of them.