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HGR Cultivates Their Position By Jhantu Randall

It was two days before Christmas and the rain was coming down
Records being set as the water hit the ground
The City lights illuminates the sky showing its hazy tint
Up on Union, many talents making their way to a networking event
Different voices together in one room, traveling from miles around
Sharing parts of their stories on All City Sounds.

I was invited to an event at Hollow Earth Radio as I was told this would be a good opportunity to pick up some interviews right alongside All City Sounds conducting theirs live on the air. Never one to miss an opportunity this appealing, I looked over and saw the lineup that was expected to show. One caught my eye right away, Hard Grown Records, or HGR for short. An artist of theirs who I’d known for close to a decade, Anji D, had just released her single “No Time” just a few days earlier. Being able to congratulate her while getting to show the rest of the group seemed like a moment where the stars aligned, so we set a time to meet.

I sat down with the group after they gave an interview to Gerald Beamon, Marianne Reilly and the All City Sounds crew, as they began giving me their story. The labels CEO is known by Mistah Moufpeace while the President of the label is Anji D and their soul artist, HIM, rounds out the group. Within the first few moments the thing that stood out to me was the bond they all seemed to carry with each other. “We’re a collective, we move as a family unit,” Mistah Moufpeace said as I inquired about that. It’s that dynamic that actually lends to the authenticity of who they are and the music they put out. When I asked about influences, a question I asked all of them in some form, he gave me the list of familiar names but Master P being at the top made sense. To build a family unit is one thing, but to set a foundation in which each is given the ability to grow is a different feat in itself and while many strive for that, it takes a particular frequency to get it to actually click.

Forming in 2016, Mistah Moufpeace and Anji D linked up through writing and creating music, followed soon after by Him, a singer originally from Seattle but who has also spent some time in Texas. Him was brought into the fold through a mutual friend, “He [Him] played a song for me called…’Believe Me’ and I aint never heard that come out of such a young soul like that before so I had to get him to rock with us.” It’s stories recalled in that way that further shows the kind of dedication they all put into their work. Words told about you in that way only reinforce the idea of wanting to always reach another plateau when you have that kind of belief ingrained into the foundation of your collective. 

Turning to Anji D and congratulating her on her new record was rewarding even more because through knowing her I had a small glimpse of where it was she drew her lyrics from. She blends not just her words but her melodies in her delivery which when done right gives more depth to her verses. While that’s been done time and time again, it takes a certain rhythm to do it as an enhancement instead of a crutch, nothing proves that point more than HGR’s song “Cookies” which can be found on their sound cloud. Hearing that beforehand, I wanted to know what it was like for her being a female artist in a genre predominantly run by men. In turn, did she feel she had to come off harder than her counterparts in order to be heard in a certain way. Writing since childhood, starting with, in her words “Some pretty dark poetry” the pen has always been a form of release for her. It was there where she could write out moments in her life and gain the perspective in which he carries in not just music but everything she takes on. It was that that allowed her to share her story without falling into gimmicky waves. Always set on being a singer, rap presented more of a platform for her creativity. “Walking into a genre that was new to me is the place where I found myself having the most fun.” It’s the combination of that fresh spirit and ability to put yourself out there completely that comes through showing that she can stand alongside those who may try to dismiss her simply for being a female in the genre who goes her own way. If you’re able to tap into pain and present it as a story that people can follow, there will always be an audience somewhere.  

The singer of the group, Him, found his sound growing up in the church and not really hearing what he wanted to hear coming from the radio. Listening to older singers he heard how a song sung in a certain way can convey a message pulling some influence from Bobby Caldwell. What drove him to create his own music was the fake ness that resonated from so many other artists who all sounded as if they were telling the same story. When asked he answered simply, “I’d rather listen to my own music and those around me because I know their stories, I’m around them every day.”

In 2020, the best way to convey what the group was aiming to do with videos coming for all 3 in the new year, can be summed up by the words, “A complete clear vision,” As their path becomes more hectic the focus of each of them further solidifies. The thing that stands out the most to me in Hard Grown Records sound is the familiarity of their production. It’s consistently smooth and sonically clear. Add that to the artists who whether consciously or not, are targeting an older demographic in their songs. While not a direct comparison, their sound branches off from the same train that gave the Fugee’s their identity. I say that in the aspect of the obvious lineup of 2 men and 1 woman, but also in all 3’s essence of we’re putting out what we like and if you rock with it, cool. It’s that unapologetic determination that is evident in the tracks that they make. So if you catch yourself feeling just tuned out, stream Hard Grown Records and vibe on a higher level that caters to grown folks in the lounge’s enjoying that 206 soul.



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