Hardrock – ‘1of1’

Hardrock’s rise to underground stardom isn’t just enigmatic, it’s shrouded in “darkness.”

While whispers of his year-long hiatus circled his involvement in the military (which he reportedly exited due to help from Ian Connor), the Atlanta up-and-comer’s prominence is now undeniable, displaying he is a true 1of1 talent on his new 16-track project.

Formerly featuring SahBabii and boasting a stellar ensemble of producers in BNYX, Cxdy and F1LTHY, Hardrock’s inimitable brand of grunge rock and dark rap is impossible to turn away from. His sound ensnares you like a Python, unrelenting in ominous 8-bit rage and drenched in distortion; Hardrock truly lives up to his name. Yet, he’s not your typical rapper that plays into the facade of virality. It’s apparent his sound won’t fade; it longs to be limitless.

Sporting cutting-edge, avant-garde rhythms coupled with robust flows reminiscent of electric guitars, the budding 18-year-old star’s new album is a gripping display of forward-thinking sounds above all. His signature touch is crystal clear on 1of1, especially with tracks like “WA/VE” (crafted by BNYX and F1LTHY), “marathon” (helmed by CXDY), “kickdoors,” “eye to eye” and “not afraid.” Lines such as “I look at myself, I say you know you the one” echo Hardrock’s inherent magnetism and potent lyricism — exuding an aura that’s both commanding and expansive. Twisting Avril Lavigne’s vocals on “complicated,” he paints a contemporary love narrative with his syrupy, smooth auto-tuned vocals: “In my bed, I toss and turn cause I can’t sleep when I’m thinking about you.”

“range/era” is the most impressive track on the record, though, as Hardrock floats over fleeting siren synths and tense, airy melodies — building peak anticipation with thumping, low-mixed drums. “Moving up on away from that, now I’m on to better things / Singing to this microphone, I do magical things,” he darkly sings as stark guitar riffs enter the experimental void on “era,” displaying his lyrical prowess and surgical storytelling ability by letting listeners into his pysche — reflecting on his life, past relationships, trauma and evolution as an artist. This is a major theme on the album: Hardrock’s song-writing is both intimate and honest, allowing fans to really know his true intentions and motivations. “Poet” is another refined example of this, where Hardrock discusses how no one “saw the vision in my mind,” disregarding doubters in his comments while grinding in silence. “I stood tall, I stood fine / Even when I felt like quitting, I kept trying / Now the time has come, it’s my time / Knew I was a star, since I was nine / the Darkness will fade and I will shine.”

Unorthodox and brooding, Hardrock’s affinity for melding edgy anthems and alternative cuts has reached fever pitch on 1of1 — highlighted by its experimental beat selection. His proximity to Playboi Carti‘s label Opium seems more apparent than ever  — and with a nod from F1LTHY and artist Matthew Williams stemming from his appearance on the ALYX runway — Hardrock’s affiliation with 00 seems to peek through with baby voice, Carti-esque flows on “darkness.” It feels all too familiar of the first-listen feelings Whole Lotta Red brought forth. Previous breakout hits like “Feel Alive,” “juh cant” “Hardcore Drugs,” “God’s Hands” and 1of1‘s de facto single “bleh” (which currently sits at over 2 million streams on Spotify) offered just a glimpse into his expansive depth, imminently taking a left turn from the current crop of new wave players.

Following the handful of projects he dropped in 2022 (SLATTYDON, Next!, Slimy Stuff, and 808 Speaker Knockerz), 1OF1 marks Hardrock’s first full-length venture of 2023 — and with it, bolstering his position at the forefront of the fresh underground. On the road to unlocking his full potential, it’s clear that Hardrock is as unparalleled as the album’s title suggests.

Listen to ‘1of1’ below!