Brooksville rapper Hard Target is achieving national acclaim with his unique brand of music, a style that combines elements of rap, country, and rock. In advance of the July 10 release of his new album Joyridin via Dirt Rock Empire, the label owned and operated by Country music stars The Lacs, his breakthrough hit "Chevrolet" went viral last year with nearly 8 million views on YouTube and another million spins on Spotify. And Joyridin has charted on the iTunes Rap/Hip-Hop pre-order charts.
Yet before Hard Target was a universally recognized rap artist, he was a Spring Hill teenager with a dream.
"I got it in my head that I wanted to be a musician, a rapper," he said. "I sat in my room for six years and learned how to make it happen."
And happen it did. After studying every aspect of performing, writing, producing, and promoting music, Hard Target self-released the recording Karma in 2013 and numerous other tracks in the years that followed. His music drew the heed of Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, who performed on several Hard Target tracks and managed him for a brief stint.
"He is such a big influence," said Hard Target. "I couldn't believe it when, one day, I got a message that he wanted to work with me."
Yet throughout his career and in the wake of his collaboration with numerous other high-profile artists, including a recent music video collab with Struggle Jennings, the grandson of country music legends Jessi Colter and Waylon Jennings, Hard Target has always done things his way; continuing to write, produce and record his own music and music videos.
And his way works, as is evidenced by the fact that he has amassed more than 20 million YouTube views on his channel and another 200,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.
"Even when I signed with a national label, I let them know where I stand. I only put out the music that I think and believe in," he said. "The Lacs told me that they didn't want to touch anything."
Aside from popular party tracks like Chevrolet, Hard Target likes to record songs that convey a myriad of themes and emotions.
"Chevrolet caters to a certain audience," he said. "Other songs address real-life situations and emotions, everything from breakups to raising a family--serious stuff."
In receiving fan mail from as far away as Europe, Hard Target has come to realize the impact of his music.
"I hear from people who have just lost their jobs, who have been through so much, who say my music has helped them," he said. "This is what inspires and motivates me."
With tracks as diverse as Chevy Truck and Lemonade, Sing My Blues and Moonlight, Joyridin is sure to expand the Hard Target audience and fanbase still further. Yet as much as his fans inspire him, this devoted husband and father of three draws ultimate inspiration from his family in Brooksville.
And he has one form of inspiration that's higher still.
"I thank God every day," he said, "To do this as a job."
Get Joyridin' now at https://cmdshft.ffm.to/Joyridin.
Editor’s Note: Material presented in Hard Target’s music and YouTube videos are for a mature audience only.