“A lot of people can rap, but only a few people in the world can be a rap star.” Twenty-two year-old HARDO may have only released a handful of songs, but has already made a big impact and the future looks bright. A product of Pittsburgh’s storied and historic Wilkinsburg section, Trap’n Hardo’s efforts have garnered strong six-figures of YouTube views and listens, telling a story not widely heard from the Steel City.
Telling his stories on track, like the tattoos on his face and body, HARDO wears his past with pride, whether it ‘s heralding triumphs or claiming his mistakes. His colorful experiences pepper his debut release, TRAPANATI, The album’s title stems from, “Illuminati,“ the first recorded song once leaving his overturned prison stint in October 2014. HARDO explains, “’Illuminati’ refers to a secret society’s most enlightened leaders. The song explains that trappin’ is a secret society as well.”
Owning his life’s experiences, HARDO’s earliest songs show that he’s lived a complex life. The 2012 street hit, “Stressin’,” (which has over 500,000 views) was one of the earliest disclosures of his life’s dichotomy and even caught the ear of T.I. After hearing “Stressin’” the Grand Hustle CEO sought out the unsigned MC, and extended friendship and advice with HARDO readily welcomed the wisdom. Thanks to Tip, HARDO snagged Yo Gotti for 2013s “Drug Dealer Dream,” a song rooted in dirty-handed aspirations. “Back then I was living a double-life, I’m not anymore,” he admits. Reformed-yet-real, T.I. and HARDO present their stripes and laugh at the frauds on TRAPANATI standout, “I Know You Ain’t Gon Act.”
TRAPANATI is the project that is set to change his life for good. HARDO describes the CD stating, “The first few songs focus on the wild life, the happy life, what I’ve been through. But as you listen more, you realize that I’s not all good, and you see the change and growth in me in wanting to be a better person.” On the Mac Miller-assisted “Fast Life,” HARDO raps, “I’m just rollin’ up my next blunt / Pen and pad, I’m just trying to be the next up / I’m a dad, I’m just tryin’ to be the best one.” These bars tell it exactly as it is.
‘”Fair Warning” tracks HARDO’s decision to trade hustling for hope. “There’s a lot of versatility where I rap a number of different patterns and styles from the way I harmonize, the many cadences, the whole nine. I’m showing you that I am an artist who can make music and also give you what’s real at the same time. I think it’s the best record that I’ve ever done, so far,” he admits with a smile. “With the right push, I feel like I could win a Grammy behind it.” Local producers Stevie B and ADotThaGod complement TRAPANATI, along with chart-topping outfits ID Labs and Big Jerm. Longtime hit-maker Don Cannon (Jay Z, Jeezy, Pusha T) also lends his hand on album closer “How Real Is That.”
Being given a second chance, while HARDO was locked up much of his Wilkinsburg crew were arrested. “Just a couple of days before I was cleared, everybody that I hang with had got indicted on a big drug case. If I was home, no doubt about it, 100%, I would have got caught up in that situation,” he says, deadpan. “I just counted my blessings. I got an opportunity to do something with myself, accomplish these goals, and be a great father.”
Now, the Taylor Alderdice High School alum—who walked the same halls as friend Wiz Khalifa (appearing on the club-tinged “Mo’ Money”), and recorded some of his earliest verses at classmate Mac Miller’s house—will add to the Pittsburgh musical diversity. Already a hometown hero, HARDO is now a role model for the right reasons, with iron clad street respect. TRAPANATI tells this story, with a resonant message, and compelling music.