Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers
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Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers

Sacramento, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Sacramento, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Hip Hop Alternative




"Hobo Johnson’s new kind of swagger"

Frank Lopes happily talks about his stretch of homelessness, one of the darkest times of his life. It’s right in his debut album, Hobo Johnson’s 1994 Toyota Corolla.

That period started last February when his dad kicked him out of the house, forcing him to live in his car for nearly a month. But now, the 21-year-old rapper has an infectiously positive energy about it. He wears an ear-to-ear smile when he talks about other dark details from his life, too, like going to juvenile hall at 17—he laughs at how inedible the food was, and how the guards called it “noodle surprise” just to make the intmates’ lives more miserable.

The hours in his Corolla spawned the name Hobo Johnson. More importantly, the experience jolted his artistic style. Since about 15, he’d been churning out rap tunes with empty boasts, cliché metaphors and hand-me-down hip-hop swagger. With everything stripped away, he dropped the braggadocio and started spitting verses that reflected his true self: self-depreciating, contradictory and weird.

“I was like, ’Maybe I should just not be fake,’” Lopes says. “I’m so grateful it happened. I wouldn’t be the same person. I wouldn’t be making the same music.”

This new, bullshit-free lifestyle influenced an uncomfortably honest approach to rap. (“I hate to think if I didn’t hate math, I’d be in dorms or class, not living in my car.”) Around the same time, Lopes developed an interest in folk-punk bands AJJ (formerly known as Andrew Jackson Jihad) and Front Bottoms, whose members would scream out all their ugly secrets with glee.

“It’s all from the heart,” Lopes says. “They were saying all these things I’d never heard before and being honest. I was fucking amazed by it.”

Lopes worked on his tunes all through 2015, releasing 1994 Toyota Corolla that October. His next album, The Rise of Hobo Johnson, came out in May. The record takes a new low-key, moody direction, comprised primarily of haunting piano loops. His verses are more creative and personal, and the lack of a solid beat gives him greater flexibility to stumble around with his jumbled lyrics.

“I feel like the piano captures a mood so well,” Lopes says. “Me rapping on beats doesn’t work.”

He plays piano with his band, Hobo Johnson and the LoveMakers, which debuted in September—just a few months after he first began performing live. And the group isn’t afraid to get silly on stage. Its first show included a hilarious interlude, “Trap Macaroni,” where the members danced to a trap beat with a giant pot of macaroni. Lopes held out a big ladle of pasta for the audience to try.

Seriousness has its place, too. One of his standout songs, “Father,” digs deep into his relationship with his parents. He opens with his dad squashing his dream of sports stardom (“Son, you’ll never dunk, it’s just family tradition.”) and then takes shots at his stepmom, referring to her as a “shape-shifting monster who can sometimes take the form of a really, really nice woman.” Still, “Father” feels less like a critique of his parents and more like a way to contextualize his own flaws.

He and his dad have a better relationship now. If anything, Lopes sees how the younger him needed a kick in the butt.

“I was very troubled. I would just be mean for no reason. I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Lopes says. “I try to not be a dick. That’s one of my main things. And I say that a lot in my music.” - Sacramento News and Review

"HOF Spotlight: Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers"

If you’re from Sacramento and you haven’t heard the name Hobo Johnson yet, you definitely been sleeping. Hot off a feature in the Sacramento News & Review and multiple shows at Blue Lamp, Luna’s Cafe, as well as our own Neighborhood Laughs event, we figured it’s time to finally shine a little spotlight on the guys here on the HOF blog. Being hailed as “one of Sacramento’s most promising young rappers”, we talked about the guys starting their own book club, a secret album of Chingy covers, their love for macaroni, and, of course, parties.
Below’s a quick interview with Frank Lopes aka Hobo Johnson, and further down you’ll find some of our favorite tracks from him and The Lovemakers (Derek Josue and Setnik).


Starting with the basics, what’s the vision for Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers? How’d you guys come together?

Our vision is to make as much love as we would like, while also churning out tunes that people dig. This among so many other things in life, requires a balance that takes years to figure out. Also we would like to start a book club at some point when we’re ready.

If you guys had one year to live, what would you want to make happen in that time?

If we had a year to live I know I would kiss my girlfriend on the face as much as possible without being hella clingy. I would put out a secret album I’ve been working on of just Chingy covers, and we would go on some sort of tour. It’d be a lot easier to book, because when a booker might say no, we could just tell him we are about to die, and pity our ways in the venues.

What’s up with you guys and your love for macaroni? “Trap Macaroni”? What’s the story?

It popped in my head and we thought it’d be hella fucking dope. The first time you make it rain sporks on a man, you’d understand.

What’s on the horizon for Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers? What can we expect?

We are planning to relocate to a bigger market but are working out the deets. I’m working on finishing my album, which should be done in a couple months.

What’s the craziest party you’ve ever been to? What’s the craziest thing you’ve done at a party that you don’t remember?

The craziest party I went to was #HOFDAY 2016. Lit as menorah. I was too drunk once, and I pissed in my friends towel closet and later that night got cracked with a bottle to the dome. Probably related. - Hofisbetter

"All local love"

So many great local albums. I thought Pocket Fixed Mob’s full-on assault with an album released per crew member showed off the group’s incredible creative spirit. Hobo Johnson’s The Rise Of Hobo Johnson was another surprise favorite. Indie-rap with just a guy on a piano? Incredible stuff. Be Brave Bold Robot’s Dean Haakenson put out Short Raps Project, a fun, lighthearted, weirdo album. Let’s not forget Ross Hammond’s collaboration with tabla player Sameer Gupta that created the genre-defying Upward. - Sacramento News and Review


The Rise of Hobo Johnson

  1. Father
  2. Creve Couer 1
  3. Sex in the City
  4. Jesus Christ
  5. 3 Percent ($17)
  6. Mario and Link
  7. The Recipe



I was born in a 1994 Toyota Corrolla and with that I am the first human being to be raised in one. I am proud, I am thankful, I am lucky. Since stepping out of my Corolla I've spent much time trying to adjust to the world, unfortunately to no avail. It's weird and downtown Sacramento smells like piss. The only things that keep me here are the trees and my talented friends the Lovemakers. I have found much to talk about from all the house dwellers and I hope to share my thoughts about them. Though this world is a scary, scary place, my friends and I wish nothing more than to try and make it not so scary. 

Band Members