There’s no substitute for honesty. And honesty is exactly what Hobo Johnson, whose real name is Frank Lopes, offers in spades. His lyrics and performances are so raw, with words so cutting and heart so bared, that they catch you in your chest. The rapper has come a long way — in the not-so-distant past he was living in his car and struggling to find his voice. “When I was in the Corolla, it made me feel that music was all I had,” Hobo Johnson told the Sacramento Bee. “I finally got over the fear of people thinking I’m weird. I was listening to my songs and it wasn’t good because I wasn’t being honest. I’m weird. That’s what I do.”
And he is weird. In fact, he’s really weird. His music is like nothing you’ve ever heard before. It’s earnest, sometimes uncomfortably intimate, rap. “I want to make ‘nice’ hip-hop,” he said. “A lot of people can get put off when you say ‘rapper,’ especially with older people because there’s a stigma that it’s got to be ignorant, knucklehead (stuff). I see people that are like a 40-year-old couple coming to my shows.”
And this video of his NPR Tiny Desk Contest Submission for 2018 shows exactly why he draws such diverse audiences. It’s in-your-face, it’s manic, it’s heart-breaking. It’s totally unique. You can see the whole video, titled “peach scone”, here:
This man and these musicians, in a backyard with a little more than a microphone, have made something special. There’s a good reason it’s received over 8 million views — and counting. When something is this unique and this authentic, people listen.