With fire self-made beats and an epic delivery, he creates authentic rawness with ease. This next artist is truly an army of one, From the 540, the Neo Elite presents to you, the versatile Hip-Hop artist, Era Hardaway.
Era was raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and now lives 145 miles away in Norfolk. Growing up, at the young age of seven, Era got started in music by taking an interest in DJ-ing following in his father's footsteps.
During this time, Era worked gigs with his dad at countless venues learning and perfecting his craft. Soon after, Era started to develop an increasing interest in beats rather than lyricism in music. This matter soon transferred over into making beats with FruityLoops at the age of 13.
However, things didn’t go as planned, he stated “In high school, I was making many beats, but no one would buy any.” After producing for so long and not making the money that he expected, Era decided to start rapping over his own beats. Era noted “Initially, I hated my voice on my first tape due to no tone control, but you grow into it,”
Musically, Era pulls inspiration from versatile greats like J Dilla, Mos Def, Curren$y, Jay-Z, and Missy Elliot. “Missy is definitely a part of my top two, the way she flows on beats is incredible; ‘Supa Dupa Fly’ is one of my favorite albums, It sounds like nothing else till this day,” he stated. In all, Era appreciates their distinct musical styles and carries that characteristic personally. “I’m just me, with any of my raps it's authentic and I’m not trying to be like anyone. When you got your own style, you don’t worry about others. I stay inspired, not influence.”
Regarding the DMV music scene Era admits, being from Fredericksburg and living in Norfolk, Virginia, he doesn’t consider himself a part of the 'DMV.' Yet, he still receives “mad love” from DC and Maryland, and appreciates DC's cultural influence. His favorite venue so far has been Shakas at Virginia Beach and The Velvet Lounge in DC. “My set wasn’t long at the Velvet Lounge, but the crowd energy was amazing,"
His greatest accomplishment so far has been receiving 100,000 streams on his album The Jugg Tape. “I have no idea, but when the money came through, I was able to pay my rent with it!” His greatest challenge deals with finding the right people that can contribute significantly. He stated, “Every time I mix business and music there’s always someone bs’ing or not trying to pay the price.” In the meantime, Era continues to try to find genuine people to help expand his label and brand. However, he stated, “It’s hard, you have to know somebody that knows somebody, and if you don’t, you're not getting in.”
Two years from now, Era has a goal to go on an international world tour and do more shows/interviews. “My dream tour stop would be Ghana or Mali, Africa, that would be love.” In addition, he hopes to make a living solely off of music and leave a lasting legacy for his future family and now. “My parents are only getting older, and my mom always told me, I’m taking care of you, so when I get old, you will take care of me.”
Aside from music, Era in 2013 developed and branded his own merchandise/clothing line, Steez Premium. The word Steez is slang in Era’s book for “swag,"I started Steez because I wanted another platform to express myself creatively.” If Era ever hit a creative/writer block, Steez Premium would be his plan B. “I’ve always wanted my own brand, I can’t tell you how to fix a car, but things I’m skilled at, I’m going to go hard for.” Era concluded.
When it comes to advice for aspiring artists, he would tell them “Don’t fold and always do what’s right.” There will be times when your morals and principles are tested, but you have to stay ten toes down. “Never wait if something isn’t right, instead speak up." Most importantly “Don’t worry about others and stay true to yourself, make yourself happy.” As an artist, he wants his listeners to know you can be yourself. He stated, “You don’t have to be a gangster, a trapper, or a killer, you can be just as successful as the next guy.”
Read more about Era Hardaway with a closer look below.
Who’s your celebrity crush?
I have two, Kash Doll and Melii.
What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?
My biggest pet peeve deals with individuals who waste my time.
It’s very annoying because I can’t rewind or take that time back.
If you didn't have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
If I didn’t have to sleep, I would record more music. Normally, I would record once a week due to me being busy.
Would you rather Win $50,000 or let your best friend win $500,000?
I would rather win $50,000 and invest in real estate, as well as my business.
I wouldn’t let my best friend win because I know what I will do with the money, but I’m not sure what he will do - it’s his money.
What songs do you have on replay?
“Oh My God” by Lil Keed, I can’t explain it, but he floated on it! “18 Wheeler” by Benny The Butcher featuring Pusha T.
As well as, a LOT of Nipsey Hussle.
What’s the best piece of advice you have heard so far?
As a kid, my nana would always tell me “Control your body, don’t let your body control you.”
Magnified Topic of the Week: Era Hardaway’s “The Juug Tape 2” Album
Juug: Making something out of nothing. The Juug Tape 2 is filled with bars and lyricism, but it’s also shows Era’s versatility when it comes to producing. The Jugg Tape 2 in addition features Doe$ski and the late 94Nicely, both has made appearances on Era’s past singles and albums. As well as, songs Era has been sitting on for years!
Off the album his favorite single is “Self,” It makes him realize the reality of it all, especially when things get difficult, all you have is yourself. “I would rather go through a dark spot by myself, then to get someone else involved; At the end of the day the whole world may not like me, but I do” Era concluded.
Check out the The Juug Tape 2 on streaming platforms and watch/listen to Drop It Off feat. Doe$ski below!
Written by Dejah Moné