The making of Hobo Johnson
Sacramento-based lyrical poet-rapper Hobo Johnson wrote an apology on Facebook late Monday night, acknowledging criticism he's received from the city's Black Lives Matter chapter and expressing regrets for the way he's been associated with the Oak Park neighborhood.
Hobo Johnson, whose real name is Frank Lopes, explains in his post that Oak Park is going through the "horrible, disgusting process" of gentrification. A native of Loomis, Lopes lived in Oak Park for three years, a period in which he says he was "broke as (expletive)."
Lopes' group, Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers, posted music videos subtitled "live from Oak Park" starting in December 2016.
A stylized photo of Lopes appeared on a 2017 cover of SubMerge magazine, calling him "The Pride of Oak Park."
Lopes denounced that label in his Facebook apology.
"A non-African American who doesn't live in Oak Park has no right to say who is the pride of a place they don't live," Lopes wrote.
Hobo Johnson's work went viral this year thanks to a music video for his song "Peach Scone," a submission to NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest. The backyard-set video has picked up about 10 million views on Facebook and nearly 7 million on YouTube since being posted in early March.
On April 22, Black Lives Matter Sacramento posted a criticism of Hobo Johnson to Facebook, including a "set of demands" to the musician.
"We demand an apology to Oak Park Natives And Black Sacramentans for Hobo Johnson's usage of the Oak Park name without consent and deliberate thievery of Black local history," the letter begins.
BLM also called for the group's "Live from Oak Park" videos to be deleted "and never re-surfaced." Those videos are still available on the Hobo Johnson Facebook page as of Tuesday morning. "Peach Scone" is still on YouTube.
Lopes references BLM's post in his recent apology, in addition to his perception as a "cultural appropriator."
"I want to apologize for any of my actions that have shown that I don't care about the people of Oak Park," Lopes wrote.
Recently, a Hobo Johnson show at Ace of Spades was delayed by protestors, who held signs calling cultural appropriation "white supremacy," the Sacramento News & Review reported.
Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers are about to embark on a monthlong tour of North America starting in June, followed by a shorter stint in the United Kingdom.