INTERVIEW | N. HARDEM “My Music Is Personal, Political And Spiritual”

colom2Last 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

About Sumit R