HoodyBaby just released his Kitchen 24: Slangin Off Key project, which boasts features from Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Wiz Khalifa, and Quavo -- leaving a lot of people asking -- who is this guy? HoodyBaby is just one of a few pseudonyms used by Omololu Omari Akinlolu, the Dallas rapper and producer who signed to Young Money in 2015. The enviable list of guest appearances on his new tape can be partially attributed to his close friendship with both Lil Wayne and Chris Brown. Ultimately, it's HoodyBaby's talent and passion for music that have taken him to where he is. That, and a near-death experience that forced his career into overdrive.

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Origins

Born in 1987, HoodyBaby grew up in a borough of Dallas called Oak Cliff. When he began making music, he was going as Big Hood Boss, a persona that was decidedly grittier than what he's doing these days. "There was a lot of aggression in the music back then," the rapper told the Dallas Observer in 2015, referring to collaborations he was doing with local artists like Tum Tum and Lil Ronnie. "There was a lot of violence in the music. It was like, ‘Who has the best fight soundtrack?’" Some of his early music sounds like Jeezy's uncompromising trap, but he also dabbled in more dance-oriented snap music, proving the versatility of his songwriting early on.



Hoody first met Chris Brown as a teenager, playing basketball in New York while visiting family. The two kept in touch, but Hoody was drawn into the street life in Dallas. In his 20s, he was shot and spent a few months in the hospital. After his recovery, he re-evaluated his life and decided to move to Los Angeles and make music his priority.

Friendship with Chris Brown and Lil Wayne

Venturing from Dallas to L.A., HoodyBaby reached out to his closest friend in the city, Chris Brown, and spent the next 5 years as part of his entourage. The two collaborated on music that included songs that stretch from 2012's "Oh Yeah" all the way up to his more recent releases. Most notably, HoodyBaby landed a writing credit on the summer 2014 smash "Loyal."

While part of Chris Brown's circle, HoodyBaby was often assumed to be a member of his security, according to the Dallas Observer. The sense of safety he provided along with his charismatic personality meant that he landed some security-like gigs with artists visiting L.A. Somewhere around this time, he befriended Lil Wayne. Hoody began as a trustworthy, entertaining, weed-smoking buddy to Wayne, but after realizing his musical talent, Weezy signed the rapper to Young Money as an artist.

Pseudonyms

Before you heard Akinlolu as HoodyBaby, you may have heard him as Fat Leopard, a title he uses for his collaborative project with Lil Wayne. "Vegas," a track released in 2015, finds the vocalist and producer at his most melodic, making good on the title of the track with a vibrant party record. We haven't heard anything under the name since, but given Wayne's prolific nature, it's likely they have more in the stash.

He's also used the name Super Hood, which is said to be a character he plays within Fat Leopard, a group that he says will have both he and Wayne doing various role-playing. He tells the Dallas Observer of his multiple personalities, "Fat Leopard’s real emotional, but Hoodybaby is a cool guy."

Next Moves

HoodyBaby just appeared on Mike WiLL Made It's Ransom 2 project alongside Lil Wayne, which shows that despite the complications in Wayne's Cash Money deal, he's still confident in putting on Hoody as an artist.

Then there's the Kitchen 24 mixtape, which finds HoodyBaby revisiting some of the street themes he was addressing back in his Dallas days as Hood Boss. However, it's just one dimension of his songwriting.  The Wiz Khalifa-assisted "Broken" finds Hoody approaching more colorful and melodic production. He also refers to himself as "Super Hood" on the track, so it seems his multiple personalities can't help but invade all of his work.




Though the all-star cast of guests likely has something to do with it, the tape has been performing considerably well for an artist that's still finding his footing as a solo artist. If he's learned anything from Wayne and Chris Brown, this is likely the first of a few big moves he has planned. In fact, he's already teased a new release called "Prime 112."