Hardstone is an amazing international artist and talent from Kenya. His tenure in music industry has lasted for decades. He continues to make history with unique style and flair. His hits have been known worldwide and he has made a huge impact in expanding the music of Kenya on a world stage.
The versatile artist sat down with him to discuss his career and his latest project.
EB: How have you been under the world’s COVID-19 pandemic?
H: Under the pandemic, I have been working, recording music and perfecting my craft. I dropped a great record back in 2020 and it charted #3 on the billboard charts.
It was called “Gas Gas Gas”. But, because of the COVID pandemic, I wasn’t able to go touring and I wasn’t able to see more of the effect and success of the record. Apart from that, I didn’t stop. I stayed active working and going to the studio; keeping a positive mindset. If you don’t keep grinding you will get caught up. And, you will lose your momentum, your energy, the vibe.
EB: Being from Kenya, how did you get started in the music industry?
H: Basically, I’m the pioneer of the music industry in Kenya. I started at a young age about 9 years old. I would be singing at home or singing in the streets. I would perform in schools and I would perform in talent contests for money. I started building my platform. One day, I did a show in a very well known school. A famous producer saw me performing. He wanted to know more about me he reached out to me and we started working. I received a record deal as well around the age of 17. We did a couple of projects. I had a hit record called “Uhiki” which means a wedding. On the record, I used autotune just like T-pain did in the 2000s, but I actually did it back in the early 1990s. I used a sexual healing baseline beat and also had African language in the song.
I incorporated my tribal elements, mixed them with Hip Hop elements and also R&B elements. Before you knew it, I was packing up venues and performing everywhere.
One artist that supported me since the beginning was, Lauryn Hill. She came to my city when she had that record with Nas, “If I Ruled the World”. I was so grateful that she came to my album launch. She had a hard time leaving the stadium because there were thousands of people (fans).
Then, I started working with companies both in Africa and Japan on endorsements and other ventures. I’ve been featured in many books as well. There’s even a documentary that I’m featured in called “Hip-Hop Colony”. It talks about how the music business started back home. I really brought a lot of influence to the country.
EB: Your ability to sing in English, Swahili and Kikuyu is impressive. How has that help you to become more of an international artist?
H: Yes my ability to speak in different languages has helped me to become relevant, specially in America. I been able to tap in the different areas. I even have friends that play heavy metal. I have been able to open up doors for others or for myself. I don’t limit myself or put myself in a box. I’m always thinking outside the box. That’s how I stay relevant and keep pushing the enveloper forward.
EB: Can you give our audience a description of the music life in Kenya?
H: The music life is Kenya is different from the USA. Back home, I believe the music has a much more positive vibe. You don’t hear people getting shot in concerts. Even the vibe in clubs is more welcoming and there’s not that degree of violence In the music industry. There’s also many radio stations as well all over.
EB: Who has been your hardest critic? What did you learn from that person?
H: To have critics is normal in this industry, it’s part of the business. I’m my hardest critic. I constantly want to push the envelope forward for the people of East Africa. You see the Afro-beat movement is strong and it’s coming from West Africa. There’s been millions of dollars spent for this type of music to be relevant and popular in the US. We are paving the way for the next generations.
EB: What’s next for you career?
H: Music is the vessel that I’m using right now where I can put my point across and for the world to know about me. I would love to collaborate with so many different artists from different genres. I’m trying to put myself in the best platform to be the most Impactful and to help and give back to the community and create change in the world.
Seeing 50 Cent come into my community and give back to the poor is great. He presented himself as Mr. Jackson and being in the streets with the people it was extremity inspiring.
I currently have my new album out called “Stoned life” out on all digital; platforms with the single and video also out called “Dynamite”. I want others who read this article to follow their dreams and believe in yourself and in your vision always.
You can follow Hardstone on Instagram at @DaRealHardstone.