Hyro Da Chameleon

Hyro Da Hero's first album switches effortlessly from Southern-rap swagger to screaming rage.
Courtesy of Hyro Da Hero

Imagine a Venn diagram with two circles. The first circle contains Z-Ro and the rest of the rappers who helped build the Houston scene. The second contains the rock fury of Bad Brains and At the Drive-In.

Where those two circles meet, you'll find Hyro Da Hero.

His first album, the Ross Robinson-produced Birth, School, Work, Death, combines the energy of hardcore punk rock with the urban truth that's a staple of our region. It may sound gimmicky on paper, but in practice Hyro switches effortlessly from the swagger of Southern rap to screaming rage when the beat calls for it.

He's also not afraid to share his opinions in a song, whether he's talking about life in Section 8 or reminding you he's not Lil Wayne. Chatter caught up with him as he was preparing to head over to Japan for the Summer Sonic Festival.

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Chatter: So how did you end up connecting with Ross Robinson for the album?

Hyro Da Hero: He had seen me perform once before and told me that whenever I'm ready to make an album to just let him know. I was ready to make an album, and when things got right, we put it down together. He told me he was happy to do it. We created something special.

C: There are no guest rappers on the album. Was that a conscious choice?

HDH: It kind of happened organically. When you look at the greats, people rock albums by themselves, then they bring in their crew. For my first album especially, I wanted to come out by myself, spitting my stuff, just being me, showing everyone Hyro Da Hero.

I don't want you to think I'm just somebody with one song and that's it. You can listen to my stories, listen to my beliefs, listen to what I'm talking about and then ride with me from then on. I've got a lot of stuff to say. I'm a thinker and I want people to know that.

C: So what would you say is the biggest problem with mainstream hip-hop right now?

HDH: I think everybody is too cool for their own good. They put up a whole fake persona. I feel it's not hip-hop for the real people no more. I feel like hip-hop is for hipsters now.

Hip-hop used to speak to people who couldn't afford anything. It gave you that feeling to go out there and get it, though; it inspired you. It gave you the voice of the youth, the voice of the people, the political voice, all of that.

Now everybody's a baller, everybody's clubbing and everybody has all the money. They exaggerate the lifestyle and don't talk about the problems that come with the lifestyle. Nobody's talking about the real things that happen. I don't like that at all.

C: So in a perfect world, what would you like to see happen to hip-hop?

HDH: I would like to see artists keeping it real lyrically, using good metaphors and good punch lines. I wanna see them have a message and use real emotion and not just try and sound sly or cool on a beat.

Right now producers and DJs are everything and the beats are sicker than the rappers.

The rappers aren't making the songs, the beats are making the songs. Back in the day, you could have a regular beat, a kick and a snare, and the words they spit to it was memorable. It wasn't just the beat doing all the work. I'd like to see more lyricism, more musicianship, more being raw with it and letting it come out fresh.

C: Do the crowds overseas understand your message?

HDH: Oh, hell yeah! They appreciate music they feel, and either they really like it or they really hate it. I came with something they really liked when I hit the stage with a passion.

In Brazil, before I even had a band, it was just me and a DJ opening for a metal band. He'd play my samples, I'd put the energy out there and the crowd went nuts. Energy is what it is. As long as you put energy out there people, are going to feel it.

C: You moved to Los Angeles to follow your dream. Did you ever worry things wouldn't work out?

HDH: I didn't really think twice about it, to tell you the truth. God blessed that everything came out all right. I've learned so much out here — grew up as a human being, grew up as a man, everything.

I've been out here for five years now and everything has been on the up-and-up-and-up.

I've been traveling the world. I made my first album. It's everything I've dreamed of.

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