Album review: The Revenge of Hobo Johnson by Hobo Johnson

Ash Anders, Volunteer DJ

In the fourth album by award-winning Hobo Johnson, a California-based lyrical rapper, Johnson presents strong messages about political control, as well as his own issues, including mental health. “The Revenge of Hobo Johnson” stays true to Johnson’s signature lyrical style and fun music while presenting more personal emotions than can be heard in his previous albums. 

The Revenge of Hobo Johnson album by Hobo Johnson.

Anton LaVey: This track was named after Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan. As the first track, it sets a wildly unexpected tone for the rest of the album. It utilizes fun music and sound effects, presenting a unique sound. Johnson’s monotone voice contrasts the flamboyant music and lyrics without taking away from the musical value of the song. 

I want to see the World: This track is almost offensive but shares a message about the accountability of government systems and our own ignorance. The message presented is brash, considering the lyrics “I want to go to Memphis, That’s where MLK got killed” and “Especially France, I want to see them Frenchies sing and dance”. However, the flow of this track is genius, as Johnson purposefully starts out with ignorant phrases and ends the tracks with hard-hitting lyrics (“I want to see Auschwitz to try and comprehend how God let that happen to them”) that solidify his points on government violence. 

I want you Back: The third track of the album returns to Johnson’s signature poetic lyrics, performed almost closer to spoken-word than singing. He adds a fun touch of his dog, Fish, barking at the beginning and end of the song, which makes his message about depression and technology more personal for the listener. 

My Therapist: This track continues the political nature of the previous track “i want to see the world” with Johnson’s weirdly catchy lyrics about economic management, without straying from his poetic style and the use of repetitive shouting in the background. 

Jordans House: The music in this track is more upbeat than the previous tracks despite the dark subtext of the lyrics. The lines “I think I hear a man breaking into my gate” and “God is dead but I am alive” contrast the light-hearted guitar nicely, alongside the song’s slow tempo. 

Prequel to Animal Farm: Continuing Johnson’s political theme, this track is based on the novel “Animal Farm” by George Orwell in which farm animals drive away their farmer to control their own work, but end up falling victim to the same capitalistic tendencies the farmer did anyway. Johnson adds an emotional intelligence to this story in the lyrics “Animals cold and sad in their stalls,” and “No life is perfect nor just but something better out there is a must”. He ends the song on a dark yet hopeful note with the lyrics “And the pig gets older and dies, As the life drains out of his eyes, A pig is born outside” 

You want a baby: Johnson shares his personal struggle with his family’s future as he describes the pros and cons of having children. The lyrics “Alex, you really want a baby, And I really want to feel okay” highlight the stark difference between the two mindsets he presents, which are both relatable issues seen by many young adults today. It is a uniquely sad song without having the typical slow acoustics and painful lyrics typical of more popular artists such as Mitski or Olivia Rodrigo. 

You need help: This track shares more of Johnson’s personal struggles. “You need help” is much more upbeat than the previous track, but the lyrics are equally dark. They describe the battle between the struggles of depression or spending your life relying on chemicals for a small semblance of happiness. It is similar to “You want a baby,” as Johnson portrays a problem felt by many others in his age group as they deal with their futures. 

Song 9 (The Government’s not Great): This track starts out with ASMR-type sounds, but connects all the previous tracks to finalize Johnson’s politics through the subtle sarcasm and irony presented throughout the album. The subtle details in this song, such as Johnson’s signature use of fun background sounds, as well as his surprising references to the previous tracks and other bands (“Find your competitors and rip out their eyes, Twenty One Pilots, 1975? Can I open for you guys?”), make it easily the most fun track on the album. The previous tracks cumulate into this explosion of Johnson’s energy that can be seen slightly better in his previous albums. 

Outro: The final track of the album is a comedic song that simply promotes Johnson’s future work, as well as pokes fun at the issues mentioned throughout the album, such as social media use, mental health, and government control. 

“The Revenge of Hobo Johnson” may not be Johnson’s best work thus far, but the catchy music and powerful lyrics certainly create a musical experience, unlike his previous work.

Spinnaker rates this album 3.5/5 sails.