- Words Nick Lowe
- Photography Finn Constantine
- Fashion Sophie Casha
- Grooming Rebecca Barnes @ Creatives Agency
- Photography Assistant Sam Greene
- Production Studio Notion
Between pizza pick-ups and round-trips to Ibiza, South London rapper Hardy Caprio shares all on going back to basics and riding till his wheels fall off with the release of his debut Mixtape in September.
Blending traditional grime and profound lyricism with a touch of contemporary rap, the Croydon MC reflects on his mental journey and delves deep into how life as a notable artist has treated him so far. “I’m tired,” he laughs. He’s just returned from Ibiza and is currently collecting a pizza after completing a string of performances at festivals and parties around the world; it’s no surprise he’s longing for a well-deserved rest. Graduating from Brunel University last year with a first-class degree in accounting and finance, he’s shifted the gears and became one of the most prominent and promising talents in the UK.
Rewind a few years and you’ll find Hardy Caprio casually hanging with friends in the school playground who rapped during their lunchtimes — “that’s what we did to pass the time” he tells me. “One of my friends was telling me I should do it and at first I didn’t want to but he ended up persuading me,” he continues. After discovering his newfound interest in the musical style, he began researching the UK music scene which is when he discovered the likes of Chipmunk and describes it as a moment of realisation because “the only rap you really heard during that time was from American artists.”
Little did he know a few years later he would have bagged himself a silver certification and collected over 100 million streams just under three years into his career. As he explains the process of maturing as a result of his success, it becomes clear that it hasn’t all been easy: “You go from being so independent to suddenly having other factors that you have to take into consideration.” He continues “and with everything happening so fast you then have a huge influx of responsibilities and so many different things to cater to.”
It might appear that it’s proven difficult for Hardy to keep up with his rocket-fuelled rise to stardom, but it doesn’t look like he’s ever reflected on it until now. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m trying to appreciate it while it’s happening, however, when you’re in the mix of it there are so many different things that you get enveloped in,” he says introspectively. You would assume that his fast-paced and in-the-moment mentality would start to become an issue when it came to the creative process of churning out another top 40 hit. Luckily for Hardy, he’s used it to his advantage.
“I just say random things when I’m in the mood,” he says casually. “If you’re having a good time you can’t just sit down and write about having a good time,” adding that when you’re making music you need to “have a good time while you’re making it otherwise you just end up making things up in your head.” Using his track ‘Super Soaker’ for reference (“I tell her bell me when the Uber’s over / Put the Henny in the Super Soaker”) he recalls that when writing it he just captured a specific moment as it happened: “I didn’t sit down and write that, it was just something that I physically did.”
The UK rap scene has always kept representation and the disclosure of hard-hitting truths at its core. Hardy tells me that the aim is to let his music convey a story of the world through his eyes: “It’s about putting your own experience into your music and educating others as a result.” Music hasn’t constantly been the number one priority in his life, though. He recently received a first-class degree in accounting and finance and when asked if education was an important step to make before focusing on his music he responds with, “I like money.” For good reason, “I like to see where my money goes,” he adds. In a perilous industry, there are always people looking to screw you over and that’s exactly how he feels: “People can take advantage of you and this is usually based on the fact they know you’re ignorant towards it.”
Surely there are moments when an artist steps back and thinks to themselves “I need a break,” right? Not for Hardy: “We’re not 40 — we’re not old so we might as well just keep going and then if it gets too much, we’ll just have another drink.” He’s definitely got the attitude for survival in the industry but there are other things that keep him motivated other than partying. When asked how it feels when he sees fans connecting with his music he tells me that it “looks like a movie — we just want to make everything seem and feel like a movie.”
The future seems pretty bright for Hardy. Describing his music as characteristic, fly and genuine; “I like those three words,” he laughs, “I might use that as an ongoing answer.” Over the last two years, he tells me he’s been pretty strategic but that’s all about to change. “I’m going back to basics. This time around I want to make music as genuine, entertaining and raw and possible. The exciting thing is, I actually think I’ve done that.”
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