Last year, I Am Hip Hop looked at the bubbling under, hip hop scene in Colombia, with graffiti, rapping, dancing and DJing prevailing on the streets during our last visit to Bogotá.
We also had the chance to have a chat with N. Hardem, a rapper from the capital, who had been making breaking through with his fresh approach to hip hop. Hardem is right in the middle of the renaissance of rap music in the country, which previously was a genre that caught on to the ‘Gangsta’ sounds of the early 90s.
With the social landscape of Colombia ever evolving, so is music of the people of the country, with Hardem combining influences from his surroundings as well as various musical genres such as jazz and Latin sounds to spread his message. The artist explained to us that the sound of music changes with society and used a relevant hip hop quote to back his point.
“Colombian hip hop is just moving forward and is just taking the path that it has to take while people start making decisions about where they want to be or defining their purpose to go the same way we are going.” Hardem said.
“Like the introduction of Black On Both both sides by Mos Def says, ‘People talk about hip hop like it’s a giant living in the hillside. People talk about hip hop like it’s some giant living in the hillside, coming down to visit the townspeople. We are hip hop. Me, you, everybody, we are hip hop. So hip hop is going where we are going.’ ”
The melting pot of vibrant cultures in the South American nation has helped shape an abundance of original art and music. Hardem celebrates his mixed heritage to create music for himself and those that can relate.
“It is all about influence. At this point I am reaching for many kinds of music. My mother is black, her side of the family is from the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, which inspired my African influence. I am also influenced by Latin music, old school jazz and hip hop with a sincere vibe. I don’t purposely look for a sound, I just make what I naturally feel.
“My music is personal, political and spiritual. I am making music that is not based on this physical environment but something that is related to my context. I am not aiming to make ‘pop’ music.”
There is also a selection of hip hop counterparts in other countries that Hardem told us of that he would love to have the chance to collaborate with.
“There are many artists around the world that I have been inspired by and would love to work with around the world from all genres.
“The Roots, Bilal, Mos Def, Pete Rock, Knxwledge, Úrsula Rucker, Omen, Noname, Dibia$e, Lauryn Hill are just a few. There are also many Spanish speaking artists such as Ascento, Dano, Crudo Means Raw, Rapiphero, Gambeta, Ébano, Julián Mayorga and Niño Maldito.”
Before reaching to others across the globe, Hardem is focusing on some exciting projects locally.
“I am finishing the second part of my project called the Tambor EP, at the moment we are working on the arrangement and the mix. I am also working on another standard play from the collective that I am working with called Indio.
“The people in our collective are creatives from all backgrounds with similar goals. We have DJs, film makers, rappers and artists. Individual achievement, collectively gaining.”
With Indio forming together as a group of like-minded creatives, the rapper shared with us what his individual mission is.
“I am not the most known rapper of my generation but the purpose is if I can reach at least one young boy or girl and make them feel how I felt when I hear John Coltrane then I have made an achievement.”
Hardem wrapped up our conversation with a message for the rest of the world.
“China, UK, Paris, New York are right now just postcards to me but one day I want to take my music there.”
Hardem’s latest EP, Lo Que Me Eleva is available on all streaming devices. Keep up to date with him and his future projects on Instagram.
Photography: Andrés Pico
Co-Interviewer: David Moreu
Interview Coördinator: M. Moreu
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