Nick Hardt
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Nick Hardt


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"Modest Mouth"

by Brett Wertz

Nick Hardt doesn’t have too much to say about his music — he knows it’s different, but can’t pinpoint exactly what makes it stand out. It could be his plainspoken writing style or topic choice, but the goateed 23-year-old remains generally silent on the subject, saying only that, “It’s something that needs to emerge.”

Hardly a great endorsement for a debut album, and yet Hardt’s new release, Cardiac Arrest, shows an emotional depth and eclectic breadth barely evident in the rapper’s own glib self-assessments.

Hardt has been a rap fan since before he ever owned a CD or cassette of his own, gaining exposure to the genre as an elementary student smuggling listens of his older sister’s tape collection, including the gangsta-rap epic, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic.

“I snuck it in as much as I could,” he said, “since I wasn’t really allowed to listen to that kind of music.”

Those first tastes of early West Coast g-funk — 2Pac, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg — eventually led Hardt in the direction of turntables and microphones, with which he began experimenting at age 17 while a senior at Norris High School.

Working on samplers, he created what he characterized as “pathetic” beats and just plain “dirty” lyrics. His family wasn’t impressed.

“My stepfather told me he lost all respect for me,” Hardt said, laughing.
Despite the admonitions of his family that he would eventually grow out of the childish rap music, Hardt continued rapping, and his subject matter evolved considerably from the days with his high-school group the Spreg Mafia.

Cardiac Arrest features many Lincoln and Omaha hip-hop regulars — from rapper Jamazz to rocker Luke Kellison, Hardt has included plenty of friends and musical inspirations alongside him on the disc.

The album weighs in at only 10 tracks, but they are a long 10, packed with promising lyricism and themes that define Hardt’s style. From the story-rap “That’s Life,” which deals with teenage drug abuse, to the emotional “Wash It All Away,” a tale of religion, suicide and escapism, Hardt’s work is sentimental and to the point.

“It seems really easy to make a commercial-friendly rap song and get on the radio,” Hardt said. “There’s a few rappers that you hear spit 16 bars and you think, ‘that is just f***ing ridiculous.’”

Though Hardt dabbles in the ridiculous with a few club-friendly songs, his material definitely hits a much deeper note — politically and emotionally — than what has risen to radio and MTV popularity.

His political views may not be the most sophisticated: “My stance is just to bitch about it as much as I can.” And yet in the context of party-tracks like Lil Jon’s “Get Low,” one has to wonder if Hardt’s voice alone isn’t at least a baby-step in the right direction.
And his bitching is only part of the story.

“Every single thought that goes through my mind, I try to write a song about,” he said.
For the left-leaning Hardt — whose voice is half Slug of Atmosphere and half Aesop Rock — the deluge of material isn’t overwhelming creatively, but just provides another reason for him to hit the streets.

Hardt, who is omnipresent in the Lincoln hip-hop scene — both at shows, battles and on stickered-street poles — has been promoting Cardiac Arrest for months.
“I’ve been fliering my ass off for the past year-and-a-half,” Hardt said. “I’ve put stickers on every pole I see.”

Nick Hardt drops his debut CD with the Thoughtless Poetz, The Awkwords, DJ Nost, Brent Docter, Woodstoxxx, Sir Skrapy, BETA, Trenton and Jeebz, Saturday, May 19 at Duffy’s Tavern, 1412 O St. in Lincoln. Cost is $3 at the door, or $6 gets you a CD.
18 May 2007

- The Omaha Reader

"Have Hardt"

Nick Hardt to celebrate CD release at Duffy's

Friday, May 18, 2007 - 12:35:34 am CDT
Nick Hardt wanted to release his first CD last week. He even had the stickers printed, but a problem pressing the new disc, “Cardiac Arrest,” forced him to move the album’s release back a week.

Despite the delay, Hardt said he’s happy to “roll with punches” and release “Cardiac Arrest” on Saturday. To celebrate the album hitting stores, Hardt will be performing Saturday night at Duffy’s Tavern, and he’ll be joined by some of his friends from Lincoln’s growing hip-hop scene, including the Thoughtless Poetz and the Awkwords.

Hardt has been interested in rap for as long as he can remember, but he’s only been performing for the past two years.
“I actually went to an MC Hammer concert when I was like 8 years old,” Hardt said in an interview earlier this month. “That was pretty righteous.”

In high school, Hardt began to write songs with friends, but it wasn’t until he befriended the Thoughtless Poetz two years ago that he took his work to the stage.

In those two years, Hardt has performed in clubs in Minneapolis and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and opened in Lincoln for nationally known hip-hop artist Afroman. He also has been a regular performer at the Chatterbox’s Super Dimebag Saturdays, which were held on the second Saturday of every month starting in January.

Based on attendance at Chatterbox shows, he thinks Lincoln’s hip-hop scene is becoming more popular.

“We’ve been getting really good crowds there,” he said.

Hardt began work on “Cardiac Arrest” in November 2005, writing and recording songs on an 8-track in a sound-proof closet in his basement. He produced more than 40 songs, most of which were never likely to make the album.

“A bunch were me messing around,” he said, “nothing I saw myself putting out.”

He chose 10 songs for the album, which vary in tone from party-inducing to tragic to angry.

Tracks like the opener, “Show Boats,” which introduces Hardt’s rap persona, and “Be a Punk Tonight” are lively, beat-driven tracks that cry out for a live performance in a crowded room.

“I like to play on basic, everyday emotions,” Hardt said.

He also knows how to craft thought-provoking songs that demonstrate an awareness beyond any dance club. For example, “Psycho” is a haunting account of the anger that follows an unsuccessful relationship, and “That’s Life” uses a gentle acoustic guitar melody as part of a story about two sisters affected by drug abuse.

“I get inspired by the newspaper,” he said. That was most apparent in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when Hardt donated the proceeds from one of his shows to relief efforts.

Saturday night, though, is Hardt’s party, and he said he hopes having a CD will help him further establish his identity in Lincoln’s hip-hop scene.

“Once I get the album out, it’ll be like having an office,” he said.

He also promised not to disappoint the Duffy’s crowd.

“I just try to give as much of myself as possible because I put myself into my songs.”

After a short pause, he jokingly added, “And I get the party started.” - The Lincoln Journal Star


Mixtape: Live From Tha Symphony Garage, March 2006

First LP: Cardiac Arrest, May 2007



Nick Hardt is an MC / Rapper from Lincoln, NE. Nick has been performing around Lincoln and Omaha, NE for the past two years. As well as performing in Lincoln and Omaha, Hardt has done shows in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Minneapolis, and Denver, among others.

Hardt has opened up for such national acts as: Afroman, Tha Alkaholiks, Greg Nice, Count Bass D, Awol One, Josh Martinez, Defari, and The Beatnuts.

Hardt has been featured on a variety of local albums including the compilation CD: Battle At Fort Omaha (J.Stephens Music, which pinned the best hip hop acts from around Lincoln and Omaha against each other in a battle type format.

Nick has been a guest and performed on various local radio shows including: 90.3 KRNU ‘The Lost and Found Show’ (Lincoln, NE) and 89.7 KIWR The River ‘Spicoli's & Rocko's Morning Fiasco’ (Council Bluffs, IA). Hardt has also been in a number of local papers and publications including: The Lincoln Journal Star, The Omaha Reader, and The Omaha City Weekly.

Hardt released his debut album in May of 2007 titled, “Cardiac Arrest.” Followed by a west coast tour in late summer of '07. The album has received a great response everywhere it has been listened to and performed.