‘Did You Mean Cinnamon?’: Cinnamane’s Rise To SPA Stardom
Nick Hindermyer is like any ordinary recent Penn State graduate in the process of interviewing for grad school – that is, when he’s not tearing up a stage near you as SPA Hall of Fame performer Cinnamane.
Hindermyer is a Fall 2018 graduate from the College of Health and Human Development and a candidate for the cardiac perfusion program at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He moonlights as a witty lyricist from New Cumberland fresh off his second full-length project, the aptly-named Did you mean Cinnamon? And although he professes on the album that, “This rapping shit my side hoe, science is my main bitch,” his rap career has only flourished since coming to Penn State.
Still, the verse is surely a reassuring sentiment to any of his future patients in the open heart surgery operating room. As a cardiac perfusionist, Hindermyer hopes to one day “work on this machine that reroutes the blood around the heart to the rest of the body, so that you can shut the heart down so it’s easier to work on, and at the same time, keep oxygen in the rest of the body, as well as blood, so that it’s all still good to go.”
But I digress.
When he first started making music in high school with his friends, it was “total memes.” In no way were they trying to be like the other SoundCloud rappers from his town who were deadass serious about making music and going nowhere. They were just having fun with it.
“I didn’t even care if [the lyrics] made sense,” Hindermyer recalled. “It was us just bullshitting and putting songs together because we could.”
Rapping became a little more serious when he started his freshman year at Penn State Harrisburg. In his first year, he made a few songs, but didn’t really show anyone because, in his words, “If I’m going to do this, it has to be good.”
Then, he met some friends at Penn State Harrisburg who he became close with even though he commuted to campus every day.
“They really liked my music, and they really liked making beats and just writing and freestyling with me,” Hindermyer said. “They showed me other artists that I had never heard before, and I realized that I could make an album that’s funny, but also good.”
One of the artists he learned about was none other than Lil Dicky, and that revelation sparked his devotion to his craft. None of it would’ve been possible without the people he met at Penn State. In his sophomore year at Harrisburg, he dropped his first full length project, Create and Consume, but he still wasn’t really sharing his music — and he definitely wasn’t performing.
Then, Cinnamane took his talents to University Park, and his friends — the same ones that he met at Harrisburg — encouraged him to put himself out there. He joined a songwriting club and Happy Valley Music Label, and they hooked him up with his first show.
“The first show I ever did was at the HUB at noon on a Friday, at the lounge,” Hindermyer said. “It wasn’t ideal, obviously, for a first show, but I guess it went really well because a couple of the people that ran SPA were like, ‘This is awesome. You had a crowd bigger than we’ve seen in the past three years, and we get people coming in from out of state.’”
He earned his stripes as a Noontime performer and befriended some of the Student Programming Association members, which opened up doors for him to perform at Battle of the Bands, SPA’s Block Party at the start of the semester, and, of course, THON.
Cinnamane remembers his time on the Four Diamonds stage like it was yesterday, if not because of how hard he had to prepare to avoid accidentally swearing on stage in front of a bunch of children.
He admits that he had cold feet about performing at THON because of the very serious concern: “What if I cuss in front of a bunch of kids?”
Fortunately for everyone in the BJC at 1 a.m. on the Sunday of THON 2018, Cinnamane cleaned up some of his songs and practiced them until there was no way he was going to slip up. He even added an original FTK-friendly song called “Team No Sleep” to the setlist, which also made its way onto his new album. And as one final measure of precaution, he scripted everything he was going to say in between songs, so he wouldn’t accidentally drop an F-Bomb when hyping up the crowd.
“That being the biggest stage and audience that I’ve ever performed in front of, that was definitely intimidating, but the fact that if I were to swear, they would have pulled me off stage — it didn’t matter that it was one in the morning on a Sunday,” Hindermyer joked about the pressure of the situation.
He engraved the clean version of his songs so far into his brain that he unintentionally performed a clean version of “Back To You” in a show downtown well after THON.
THON was an incredible experience for Cinnamane and it was by far the coolest stage he has ever performed on, but it doesn’t rank highly on his list of favorite venues because of the creative restrictions. It’s hard to capture the essence of rap music without swearing (unless you’re Will Smith).
“Believe it or not, I liked playing in the HUB because it was decent exposure,” Cinnamane said. “People usually don’t stop for that stuff in the first place, so if they stop, if you get them to stop in the HUB on the way to class or whatever and stand there for a minute, that makes me feel good. It’s definitely a good confidence boost even though it’s not the greatest spot”
To be clear, he’s referring to the Noontime Lounge at the HUB, NOT the High School Musical staircase.
“I would say the opposite for the High School Musical stairs. The High School Musical stairs actually suck. For the longest time, I wanted to perform there because I thought there would be more people there, but they actually don’t care that you’re there on stage. They just eat their food, and they have conversations,” he said. “Every once in a while, you get people that are like, ‘Okay, keep it up, yo!’ But it’s not very rewarding to perform there.”
It’s definitely a tough crowd to win over, but maybe not as tough as the time he performed in the BBH basement lecture hall. As a BBH major, Hindermyer wasn’t fortunate enough to have any classes in the building, but he did perform in a THON benefit concert there — and it did not go smoothly.
“They didn’t have an aux cord that was compatible with mine, so all of the bass in my beats was completely gone, and I was just rapping over straight mid and straight treble,” Cinnamane laughed. “It was really bad. I cut it a little short. I did three songs, and I was like ‘Listen guys, I’m sure you don’t want to hear this either.’”
It served as a good reminder that the best trait an amateur rap artist can have is self-awareness. It was by far his worst bomb, but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t even that bad.
His favorite venue, though, was Movin’ On’s Battle of the Bands in Alumni Hall — despite the fact that he was robbed by a panel of geriatric judges last year, as I pointed out in my recap of the show.
“I remember reading that,” he said, “and even in the article, you were like, ‘Cinnamane got the best crowd reaction,’ and I was like, ‘Fuck yeah, dude! What the hell?!’”
I guess not everyone appreciates that hippity-hop shit, but even though he never made it to open for Movin’ On, it’s hard to feel like Battle of the Bands wasn’t a resounding success for him as an artist. The crowd loved every second of his set, and the reaction he earned felt like a culmination of all of the small shows he had done over the years.
He confessed that some of the people in the audience that day were his friends or classmates that he somehow persuaded to show up, which is still an impressive feat because apparently none of your classmates care when you first tell them you rap.
“I was pretty surprised [by the reception], too,” Cinnamane said. “It felt good to be up on that stage and see those people react to some of the lines. I think that stage [at Battle of the Bands] is the same one that they bring to the block party — the Joey Bada$$ thing that we did out on the HUB lawn. That was fucking cool, too. The ones on campus have actually been the best shows.”
To be fair, he hasn’t joined Joe Jonas and Logic on the list of artists who have performed at Champs Downtown — yet. That needs to change because, in his words, “It’d be fucking awesome to perform at Champs.”
Apparently, he has an in with My Hero Zero frontman Jason O, but he has yet to follow up with him on an offer.
“My friends used to live out on West College, and he was touring their house whenever they were moving out,” he said. “He saw their music equipment and they were like, ‘Oh yeah, check out our boy.'”
And that’s the story of how Jason O messaged Cinnamane on Facebook.
“He says the best place for him to talk would be after one of the My Hero Zero shows, but I’m not gonna go to Champs and sit there for three hours and listen to them play Fall Out Boy,” Cinnamane laughed.
Chances are, if you’ve heard Cinnamane perform on campus at some point, you’ve already gotten a glimpse of his newest album. Some of the songs on the album date back as far as four years, even though the album has only officially been in the works for the past two.
His first taste of the limelight, performing at University Park, made him say, “Shit, I definitely want to do this second album.” And now, two years later, it’s finally out.
It was originally supposed to release last summer when the “Back To You” music video came out, but his job as an EMT, school, and the obstacle of recording in Harrisburg pushed the project back. At the end of the day, it was probably for the best — the album would look very different had it been released then.
It wouldn’t have “Lucky,” the first song he ever completely crafted by himself, using a song he sampled from a commercial. It wouldn’t have the hilarious diss track, “Lil Yachts,” that fires shots at all of the lame rappers who aren’t in school and are still not that good at rapping. And it certainly wouldn’t showcase his growth as an artist like the final version of the project does today.
Lest we forget, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
For anyone who hasn’t checked out the album yet, all Cinnamane has to say is, “Just give it a chance.”
“As someone who has been making rap, I’m pretty self-conscious of who wants to hear my stuff and who doesn’t,” he said. “I know that some artists relentlessly shove their stuff down people’s throats, and it’s not good. People don’t enjoy it, so I try to not be like that. I try to ease it in as much as possible because people are very reserved when it comes to listening to amateur rap music.
“So when I say give it a chance, I mean don’t write it off as just another dumb SoundCloud mixtape.”
Essentially, just give it a shot — after all, it is on Spotify and Apple Music.
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About the Author
Penn State ranked just outside the top 100 in this year’s Forbes’ list of the top colleges in the United States.
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