Hardy Caprio: From A Boy To A Man

“People are always going to remember how you made them feel…That’s all we have.”

“The common belief is that you are either a dreamer or a realist. But idealism and pragmatism aren’t as far apart as one might think.” By now, we’re familiar with the story of Hardy Caprio. Raised in Croydon, New Addington to be specific, 9 miles south of the capital, and now synonymous with delivering some of the UK rap scene’s most elite. The balancing act of dreams and reality manifested into an accountancy graduate collecting his degree with a million streams to his name, hours before flying out to perform his now BPI Gold certified hit singles, Best Life, Rapper and Unsigned. This isn’t the introduction to Hardy Caprio, this is his realisation, his process and his manifesto. From a boy to a man in front of the whole world. 

For a Croydon rapper, having a breakout song being as cheerful as Unsigned is near unprecedented. Though, on deeper review, the verses are interchangeable with tracks one may expect to receive, laced with an undertone of competitiveness, almost even aggression. The braggadocio veils pain. He’s dancing in the rain. It is therefore understandable that the ‘9 Months’ Hardy had retreated allowed him to reposition his now clear intent. “Since I’ve had my breakthrough, [Unsigned], I’ve had a lot of singles that have lasted in the clubs and done what I wanted, but at the same time, I’ve never felt that I was where I wanted to be…” as he began to explain. “Guten Tag kind of repositioned me, it put me back where I wanted to be. I don’t want to be one of those people that floats from single to single. I want to have an impact, because, when I was younger, I was listening to people like Skepta, and that’s what had me going, what I love. The energy, people bringing their own uniqueness. There’s certain moves that I’ve done in my career that I would say are safer than the moves that I would have taken if I still had that energy I had when I was younger. I love Best Life, I do, but that’s one of my happier songs, I wouldn’t make that all the time, I wouldn’t want that to be my career.”

“I’ve been fortunate enough to use my position to change my life, my family’s life. So I wouldn’t say I regret any of the things that I’ve done, because naturally I have to think of myself as a person, and those around me as well.”

Whilst the impact and influence of those preceding Hardy undoubtedly served an inspiring motive, the motivation is a little more profound than the desire to emulate their successes. It lays in the cruelty of his boroughs’ disparity, a narrative we’re all too familiar with. “Croydon’s a borough…” Hardy deciphers with discernment. “So when you’re seeing all these artists from Croydon, we’re all from very different parts of the borough. All of these areas come together. They all have internal problems like any area. So, being from there, you have to be able to carry yourself. Another thing is, if you’re from this borough, and you’re not from like Purley or Shirley, you’re poor. So you want it. We’re all poor but we’re close enough to success, so that disparity, and being able to see the disparity, provides a drive in itself. There’s one thing being the working class, and there’s another thing seeing the middle class when you’re working class, and I think that’s what makes us want it so much.”

Then comes the process. Meticulous in nature. The pragmatism isn’t only enforced by time, but also by precision. It’s the belief that the time that Hardy spent dedicating himself to the music was filled with parallel levels of attention his art is now garnering. “I’m a  pragmatist. When I first started, I said I’m gonna give myself a solid year, a solid attempt, and just try my best. If I don’t get 100,000 views this year, I’ll quit. I have a mark, and if I can’t do this, I’m calling it. I want to end gracefully.” He continues…“Unsigned was going to be my last attempt, I was like ‘Bruv, if Unsigned doesn’t work I don’t actually know what will work.’ A lot of people in music say, ‘Ah, I just stopped caring and then it worked.’ With me, no, I cared about these 3 minutes. They’re perfect, you’ve hit the nail on the head, this is going to be the one. And if it wasn’t the one, bruh  I’d be an accountant right now. We definitely believed in it, and after that, life changed quickly.”

Most pressingly, however, is the idea of finding your own lane. Our conversation begins to shift gears as we delve into the commonality of contemporary life, our descent into a dystopian-esque existence. A commonality Hardy is breaking away from, clear from the opening seconds of his contemplative, emotionally-connecting return, ‘9 Months’, captioning a label’s desire to have him create the type of ‘Summer Banger’ that initially broke him into the scene. He’s prudent, deliberating his presence and his self with the lines ‘Nah, I’m not a role-model, Nah, I’m not a martyr, Nah, I’m not a drill yout, But I’m not Akala’. He continued, making his thoughts crystal. “Where social media connects us and we’re always seeing each other’s lives, it’s easy to see something work for someone else and then think ‘I need to be doing that’, then distracting yourself. I can be a victim of that even now. You’ll have people in your ear. You gotta be strong headed and say I need to do what I personally enjoy. There’s always going to be a counter argument, but no-one lives in your shoes. No one else has your career when you go to bed bro, you make your mistakes and you feel the ramifications. Time tells the most, time is the most revealing. I’ve always taken my time because no move is better than a bad move. If you feel you’re in this microwave music era, then you will be in that.”

“People are always going to remember how you made them feel, how did the last song make them feel. That’s all we have. We have 3 minutes to capture the audience, and let them know who we are.”

And so, we are left with a new Hardy. His sound has matured, it’s sophisticated, nostalgic yet  fresh. His latest, XYZ, featuring none other than the breezy SL, demonstrates it. Having the audacity to flip Minnie Riperton’s ‘Lovin’ You’ on a rap song is one thing, but the audacity to do so is almost disregarded as a noteworthy risk, given the delivery, the flows and not to mention the brazen storyline of the visuals. We wrap up with the following, as I ask what the goal is. It’s safe to say, Hardy Season has landed. “Take over the world. That is the best way I can phrase it. Just take over the world. This is like my third year probably, and I’ve changed my life over like 2 songs a year, so just imagine what happens when I do like, 10, or more. I found myself, musically. As a person, and now is just the best time to showcase that at the start of the decade. I’m not putting Henny in a super soaker no more, I get hangovers bro. You just gotta’ make it a movie, make life a movie.”


Listen to AAA Pass Episode 4 with Hardy Caprio now