It’s 33 degrees in London, and arguably even sweatier inside the greenhouse confines of the 393 bus I’m catching to meet Hardy Caprio. I’m finding some solace in the fact this is the kind of blistering climate HC exists to soundtrack.
Since raising temperatures with two polished EPs last year, Hardy’s dropped a string of hugely successful singles. I can’t claim to be living my “Best Life” while perspiring on public transport, but Hardy’s track of the same name has been immortalised in Instagram captions worldwide. The Croydon-born rapper’s already played a headline set at Wireless Festival, and made his first steps into fashion, performing for an exclusive crowd at an Adidas party.
Still, he’s refreshingly cool about it all. “I’m just here to have a good time,” the 22-year-old tells me frankly, showing no indication of an ego to match his rising public profile. In person he’s funny and laid-back, carrying the infectious positive energy that permeates his music. On making memorable tunes, his approach is fearless but simple: “I don’t have a filter. I want people to raise their eyebrows, laugh, or be entertained.”
This transparent attitude has marked Hardy as an integral figure in the UK’s explosive Afro bashment and Afro swing scenes. “It’s a phenomenon, really,” he reasons of the rising generation of artists bringing fresh African and Caribbean sounds to UK rap. “This is a rare moment but because we’re living in it, we’re not even taking in how much of a big deal it is.” It’s a movement that’s in many ways sociopolitical, and one he’s clearly proud to be a part of. “With a lot of negative press surrounding the rap scene, we’ve got a great counter argument,” he explains, “it’s feel-good music, without the previous stigma of having to be a certain way to be a rapper.”
He hopes his personal narrative will challenge negative rap stereotypes too, highlighting his recently acquired Business and Finance degree. A self-proclaimed numbers nerd – “it’s no secret!” – the rapper graduated with a First. “I think it’s a good story to have in our society,” he offers, “like, “He went to University, and still made it [in music].’”
Hardy attributes an undeniably strong work ethic to his success so far, but despite being firmly grounded, he’s not shy about his plans moving forward. “I’m here to be the biggest,” he grins, “to tell a story that no one’s ever told.” With a 10-date UK tour planned for this summer, it looks like his arrival is the first chapter of many.
Taken from the Autumn 2018 issue; out now and available to buy here.