By: Matthew Ryan Miramontes, Point Park News Service
Joseph Barnett is putting the past five years of challenges behind him. Under the moniker Hardo, the Pittsburgh native rapper is building a strong local and national audience.
At his latest performance in his hometown on Jan. 19 at Spirit Hall in Lawrenceville, hundreds of fans gathered to support the rapper at his first show back in the city since December 2016.
O an uphill path to stardom after signing a deal with Sony Music last September, in the darkened venue of Spirit Hall, fans new and old gathered, including Brittany Ayers, 20, of Natrona Heights–a fan for more than five years: “I’ve gone to multiple shows over the years because I’ve always been a big supporter of him and how far he has come,” Ayers said.
Hardo has gone through trials and tribulations to get where he is now. The past was no easy path. His troubles started with a heroin arrest in 2013. He was found not guilty of intent to deliver, resisting arrest, possession and traffic violations.
Kimberly Noel, 22, of Pittsburgh, described Hardo as, “an artist who shows so much love to his fans.”
Hardo returned the love at Spirit Hall by jumping into the general admission area to rap with fans who posed for videos and pictures while he made his way back to the stage.
“You could tell that everyone who came was a genuine Hardo fan… and it was easy to see why they love him so much,” Noel said.
Following his acquittal, Hardo released “Thug Motivation,” a single offering intrigue and a new style of approach to his sound. The booming production by Stevie B has Hardo describing fatherhood, his time in prison and a more personal side to his story.
Pittsburgh has been known to showcase a love and appreciation for hip-hop music, Hardo’s show at Spirit Hall was evidence that the community still thrives on a need for someone to follow.
Hardo is that leader, and his expanding fan base was evident at the Friday night show. Among the crowd was professional photographer Justin “Big Will” Wilson, 22, of Aliquippa, “Hardo is great for the rap community of Pittsburgh and he may even be the heart of it,” Wilson Said.
Hardo shared the stage with several local artists, including Stevie B, Trapway Kizzl, Stunna2fly, Asco100k, FTR Drama and DJ Spillz.
Through the madness and chaos of his show, Hardo stayed calm through it all and was able to deliver a jaw-dropping performance.
“Today’s a good day,” he told the audience.