Born and bred in Brooklyn, N.Y., Robin Hoodd says that he grew up hearing his mom in the kitchen singing along to the bachata, merengue and salsa hits of the time, but Hoodd would be holed up in his room singing along as well. Eventually, the Williamsburg resident, born Robin Reyes, began writing his own lyrics inspired by his daily struggles such as being bullied for being overweight and wearing hand-me-downs, as well as living under a strict household governed by an abusive father. It was at this time that the Dominican artist also discovered that he could draw, often switching from writing to drawing what he saw outside his bedroom window.
Fast forward to the present day, and we find that Hoodd has taken his talent for music and art to another level, dropping a number of tracks, and showing his abstract artwork in galleries. His sound blends his Latino roots with his urban upbringing, yet also contains influences from a number of genres like EDM and freestyle to formulate a sound that’s uniquely his own.
Hoodd’s latest music video for his single “Trouble” — directed by himself in collaboration with videographer, Jason Perez — has been making the rounds online, and ‘LLERO got ahold of it. We also got a chance to chop it up with Robin Hoodd, while he prepared one of his paintings for an art show in Miami, as he gave us the details of the inception of his musical and visual arts journey, his inspiration, the message he’s trying to bring across with his music, as well as what the future holds for the multi-talented artist on the rise.
‘LLERO: What inspired you to make music?
Robin Hood: I went through a lot of shit growing up. My family was really abusive. As much as they tried to bring you up in a strict manner, they sometimes went overboard trying to discipline you. My father was really an abusive person, and he used to verbally and physically abuse us. That kind of lead me to just wanting to be by myself and kind of expressing myself through writing. I used to write so many poems, and then, the poems would turn into music. I used to have so much time to myself to kind of channel my inner challenges. After getting a whooping or a beating, and also getting called a “fat fuck” or this and that, I would just cry and go into my room and start banging on the bureau like drums. So that inspired me to write music—to escape from all the bullshit I was going through.
‘LL: What type of music were you into at that point?
RH: We’re Dominican, so we grew up on a lot of merengue, bachata and salsa, but I was always more into the [American] culture. You go to school and kids are listening to hip-hop and pop, and I was basically just trying to take some of the Spanish vibe and the English vibe and mix it together to make my own—which is what I’m doing today. The way I say certain words or express certain feelings comes from the bachata, and the way that I produce comes from the [American] culture, like pop and hip-hop. I mix it all in one, and that’s how I come out with the music that I have.
‘LL: How would you describe your sound?
RH: I’m making my own little path. I call it like an urban pop. The urban community, that’s where I’m from, and I love hip-hop, but I’m not a hip-hop artist, and I’m not going to make believe that that’s me. So, I created this vibe where it’s things people can relate to, but at the same time it’s happy. It’s urban pop. It’s about hustling, but with a beat that’s uptempo. This little type of wave is my own, and I’m going to try to put it out there.
‘LL: Who were some of the merengueros and bachateros that you were listening to back in the day?
RH: I was into Zacarias Ferreira, Anthony Santos, El General – he was dope. It was a lot of them, El Canario, some of that old music, like Chicas Del Can and Juan Gabriel—all that shit. There were so many other artists that mom and dad were blasting, and I just grew up listening to that. The way people make Spanish music, it’s so emotional, they get so into it. Like with bachata and merengues like, “Donde estan esos amigos…” [Zacarias] goes so into his shit! I took that. That’s in my blood.
‘LL: How about English-language music—who were some of the artists you were listening to back then?
RH: Growing up, I used to listen to a lot of Michael Jackson, Jay Z. I was listening to a lot of Linkin Park. I was never just into one genre. I listened to all types of music. To me, if I could feel it, I would listen to it. But, growing up I listened to everything, like Queens of the Stone Age, 2 Pac, Biggie, Jay, I listened to all that shit. I listened to everything, everything.
‘LL: Who would be your dream collaborator, and why?
RH: I think my number one would be Kanye. He taps into different markets, and that’s the way I am. I don’t think we should all be like, “Okay, this is pop. That’s what it should be like, that’s what it should sound like. This is hip-hop, and this is what it should sound like.” No, this person fused this thing this way, because this is the way he likes to listen to it. Let’s give it a chance to see what that person has to bring to the table. Maybe it’ll sound dope. That’s why I would love to collaborate with Kanye. J. Cole would be amazing. Even Lady Gaga would be amazing. People that are talented, who love to create. I would also like to collaborate with J Balvin, Nicky Jam, Anthony Santos, Romeo, all them dudes—Marc Anthony definitely. These people could create. When I was like 18 or 19, I used to roll with Henry [Santos] and all of them [Aventura] dudes, so I saw them in the studio. They all create. I was inspired by that. Max and Lenny [Santos] would create things from nothing. I’d watch them, and they would create, and right there on the spot.
Learn why Robin Hoodd went from vinyl to canvas after the jump…