Mistah Wilson interviews Jason Hardin of The DENA Magazine on Business, Community, & Media

Mistah Wilson: When we first met you, The DENA Magazine wasn’t in existence yet. What led you to create your own publication?
Jason Hardin: When I first created The DENA Magazine, I wanted to produce a product that utilized my skills in graphic design and that promoted the local talent and businesses that I support.

Mistah Wilson: What made you decide to focus on the local level?
Jason Hardin: I believe that when you’re trying to accomplish something, you have to start close and work your way out. Besides that, Pasadena has been at the center of almost every major moment in my life, and I wanted to give back to it.

Mistah Wilson: So what’s up with HardTV?
Jason Hardin: Hard TV was the first public access show I produced and directed. It was also my introduction to media and the reason I fell in love with what I do now. Due to The DENA Magazine’s demand for my time, the show is currently on hiatus. However when the time is right, I plan to relaunch it bigger and better than ever before.

Mistah Wilson: You’re quite the graphic designer and businessman. What products have you worked on?
Jason Hardin: Besides my publication, I’ve worked on so many products and projects over the years. I don’t think I can even remember them all. I’ve done album artwork for many independent artist and producers such as Paco Swartz, Steven Sneed, Mike Towns, Zook, Faith Rose, and K Reese, just to name a few. I’ve also produced many advertising and promotional products for a number of individuals, companies, and organizations like iDeposit.net, Noor Events, and the City of Pasadena’s Recreation and Human Resources Department.

Mistah Wilson: Being that you were a Bulldog, how do you feel about Pasadena High School’s loss in this year’s Turkey Tussle?
Jason Hardin: As a bulldog, watching our football team lose the Tussle is never easy. We won the “Bell” when I was in high school, and that feeling is absolutely amazing! I cover it every year in hopes of seeing this younger generation experience that same excitement we felt, as well as to experience it again myself. There’s honestly nothing like it!

Mistah Wilson: Do you think it’s okay that Muir wins every year because PHS has a better academic & basketball program? Do you think that’s a valid statement and why?
Jason Hardin: I believe that the academic program and the basketball program of PHS is better, but I don’t believe that’s the reason why Muir wins. I can attribute Muirs victories in the Turkey Tussle to a lot of other factors such as coaching, scouting, sponsorship, city politics, and even public safety.

Mistah Wilson: Since you created The DENA Magazine, you’ve manifested into an influential figure in the community. What are your thoughts on the random acts of violence transpiring from time to time in Pasadena?
Jason Hardin: First, I believe these acts are anything but random, especially in a city with such a strong history of gangs and gang violence. The fact that there’s been about 30 murders in five years within the same 3 mile radius in a city that’s only 23 square miles big shows that there are more forces at work than just knucklehead youngsters. The entire community plays a part in this violence, including the city government.

Mistah Wilson: This year you worked on the Pasadena Idol competition with S Claz, Paco Swartz, & REBORN. Will we see an article of the winner in DENA MAG’S next issue?
Jason Hardin: Yes. “Chelsea J” was the winner of the 2012 Pasadena Idol competition, and she will definitely be featured in our next issue along with an article written by her and an ad for her campaign that deals with helping young girls deal with the issues of growing up.

Mistah Wilson: What are some of the good things you love about what you do?
Jason Hardin: I love the fact that this industry allows me access to some of the most interesting and influential people in the city and beyond. Not having graduated college or been born into a wealthy family, I never pictured I would have this level of access so early in my career. Another thing I love is that I am now able to open many doors that have been closed to me in the past. This allows me to create opportunities for myself and others in a way that couldn’t if i was doing anything else. Also, I just get a kick out of being invited to places that some people can’t even pay to get into.

Mistah Wilson: What inspires your creativity?
Jason Hardin: Since you can’t control life, you can’t control where inspiration comes from. Anything and everything inspires me! No matter where I’m at or what I’m doing, I’m always thinking of how what’s going on can be applied to what I’m trying to accomplish. The key is being able to identify the value of any experience, good or bad.

Mistah Wilson: What do you plan to achieve with The DENA Magazine?
Jason Hardin: I want The DENA Magazine to add value to the name “Pasadena”. This adds value to anyone or anything associated with that name, creating more opportunities that benefit us all. To accomplish this, The DENA Magazine brand has to represent what it promotes, and that is the Inspiration, Influence, & Independence of not just Pasdena, but every community in the world.

Mistah Wilson: Who are your Top 10 artists from Pasadena and why?
Jason Hardin: Paco Swartz makes the list for a million reasons. He’s totally mastered his style and has one of the deepest catalog of hitters than anyone I know.... and he make beats.
Revelations has to be one of the most talented lyricist I know personally. This man used to pull me aside at parties and freestyle over whatever song was playing, and I swear it would be some of the dopest bars I’ve ever heard in life. I promise he’s gonna come out with a bangin album if I have to put it out myself.
The Grinch has been awesome a long time, and if he ever comes out with an album, it would be album of the year potential.
Mike Towns impressed me as a rapper back in high school when he performed at the Homecoming assembly and said, “I wanted a hot link, but couldn’t afford the cost, so I asked Ms Lilly to give me a bun and some sauce.”..... killed it.
Che Ski is an older artist I never knew too well personally, but his flow is hot, and he is definitely Dena.
Zone is just about the hardest working artist and most recognized artist out of Pasadena, and that’s why i respect him so much.
Riko Denaro will be the first artist off my own label, so you know he has to make my top 10 list.
Harold Blu makes the list because he has this mellow hustla’s flow that I enjoy listening to a lot. My favorite tracks by him are “The Fig Is In The House” and “Hustle Everyday” which I plan to do a music video for.
Zook has been a long time favorite of mine ever since 2003. I respect his style as well as the way he does business.
P.I. just has a lot of hot tracks in his repertoire . He can rap and sing his own hooks, and I can’t remember him making too many songs I didn’t like.

Mistah Wilson: How did you come to select Riko Clark as the official host of The DENA Magazine?
Jason Hardin: I initially started working with Riko when I chose him to host Hard TV after one of the funniest auditions I can remember. When I started “The DENA Magazine”, it was just a matter of transitioning him into a more professional personality. On top of everything else, he has to be one of the most solid members of my team, and I never have to question his loyalty. Besides that, I feed off his confidence which allows me to be more confident in what I do. We make a good team.

Mistah Wilson: We heard you on “Can’t Ignore The Game” with RIKO and we must say, you had a pretty nice verse. Have you ever considered being a rapper?
Jason Hardin: Like a lot of youngsters, the idea of being a “rapper” used to entertain me, but I never had much interest in it. What few people know is that in the industry, the recording artist is at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to getting paid. I had more interest in being a producer, but after a while, that didn’t even seem like enough for me. Eventually, I got into media and realized that this was the industry for me. But since I believe in creating product and since I got the hottest music crew in the city, you might still see me put an album out.

Mistah Wilson: Interesting enough.What are you creatively capable of in the entertainment field?
Jason Hardin: I feel I’m pretty well-rounded in this field. I can write, produce, direct, film, edit, market, organize and even play the politics of the game. As long as I’m not in front of the camera, I feel very confident in all I do in this business.

Mistah Wilson: What impact do you want to make in your community?
Jason Hardin: I want to be apart of the example that creates positive changes in our community. I want to show others that there are a million ways to become successful in life if you only apply yourself. I want to show people that you don’t have to start with all the money, connections, or good looks to do what so many think is impossible. To be honest, you don’t even have to believe that you can do it, as long act like it. I want to give young people the chance to experience things outside of the environment that they're used to, in hopes that they will be inspired to do something great, thus creating a better community for everyone.

Mistah Wilson: Who did you vote for in the 2012 Presidential Election?
Jason Hardin: I won’t discuss who I voted for, but I will say voting is a very important part of success in this business. With influence comes the power to persuade interest. When you can persuade interest, you can control a voters block. Once you control a voters block, you have political leverage to produce all kinds of opportunities for yourself and your community.

Mistah Wilson: Would you agree that politics plays a big role in business?
Jason Hardin: Politics is a major underlying factor of every business in every industry.

Mistah Wilson: You’ve attended Pasadena’s largest urban event the 11th Annual Yardnic at Brookside Park. How important is this event to the community?
Jason Hardin: I believe events like this are very important, because they actually represent the power of the community. That many young people coming together without a problem shows that we can accomplish anything if we do it together.

Mistah Wilson: Do you incorporate culture from AltaDENA and/or GarDENA in The DENA Magazine? Why or why not?
Jason Hardin: You can see the culture of all of America represented in the magazine. Few people realize the influence Pasadena actually has on the country and the entire world, which makes everything about this city important and relative to everyone else.

Mistah Wilson: It’s no question that you’re good at what you do. Would you care to share some encouraging words for up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
Jason Hardin: If you want your business to be successful, you have to eat, sleep, and breathe it! Being halfway in it, or making it a “side hustle” is not good enough. Even if it is a part-time venture, you better do it like that’s all you do. Also, it’s very important to have mentors to help guide you through the situations you can’t understand. And above everything else, you have to be doing something that you would damn near do even if you couldn’t make a dollar doing it!

Mistah Wilson: And where do you get your INDUSTRY TIPS OF THE DAY from?
Jason Hardin: I make them up as I go along. I think of so many throughout the day, that the best ones don’t even get seen. Recently I started writing them down in a notebook, because I would think of a good one and then forget it, and i hate that. Soon, I plan to put them all in a book or a manual and expanding on each one to help other professionals, entrepreneurs, or anyone in this industry.

Mistah Wilson: Got any shout outs? Let’s hear it!
Jason Hardin: I’d like to give a shot out to Steve Sneed, Paco Swartz, Riko Clark, David Walker, and the rest of my boys for always having my back in all I do. I also want to say “What’s up?” to all the beautiful and intelligent woman that definitely motivate me to be the best man I can be. And lastly, to “Monster” and the rest of my nieces and nephews, because without them, I wouldn’t have the desire to try so hard to succeed.

Mistah Wilson: Thanx for doing this exclusive interview with us, Mr. Hardin. You are very much appreciated!
Jason Hardin: Thank you. The honor and pleasure was all mine.

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