From the beginning, HARD events have embraced dance-adjacent stylings when crafting their festival experience – The inaugural iteration in 2007 featured both Peaches and 2 Live Crew, while N.E.R.D, Soulwax and Kid Sister all made appearances shortly after. It's all been by design: "I'm always looking for something new and fresh," says HARDfather Gary Richards AKA DJ Destructo. "It all starts with my DJ sets – I wanna play something different that will stand out."
Over the past couple years, hip hop in particular has become more prevalent on HARD line-ups. A$AP Mob headlined HARD Summer jn August, and Day of the Dead will star both Cam'ron and Ty Dolla $ign. All of this comes hand in hand with Destructo's adoption of the G-house sound, which utilizes deeper house tones as the beat upon which rappers spit bars. His just-released West Coast EP features the likes of Problem, Too $hort, and Warren G all laying down flows over future house stylings.
It's nothing new to Destructo, though. "I've been around hip hop since the day it was born," he says. "I think its just important for art to be different and to have elements in the events that aren't just EDM, the new big banger that sounds like every other big banger. You know? I'm proud of the fact that we've had Odd Future and we've had A.S.A.P Mob and cool stuff like that. To me its important to be different and unique – I think that's what makes me as an artist or hard as a festival cool. If not we would just be the same as everything else."
An essential proponent of the whole G-House sound is Wax Motif, with whom Destructo worked on the West Coast EP. As a producer, he's the kind of guy who can create whatever he wants, but his interest in hip hop was only recently rekindled. "I kinda felt uninspired by hip hop until I started coming to LA," he tells THUMP. "It was around the time of "Rack City," that's when I really started going back into it."
The producer of that track, DJ Mustard, was in many ways the unwitting catalyst in this merging of house and hip hop. Wax explains, "I think because of how stripped down the beats are. You can speed it up and it doesn't feel slathered and it can work with house stuff. It's definitely a very mustard vibe…I'm not sure if he even really heard of deep house, though. He has definitely heard the record now and I DJed with him like last month and I just played all g-house stuff and I think he's slowly starting to get onto it."
The merging of styles has led to some interesting moments in the studio. "Two short was real different though. He was the one who didn't really give me any indication if he liked it or not, he was just sitting down, not moving, just listening like, "play it again, play it again, put it on loop." I was like, 'If you're not feeling it's cool, man." And the thing he asked me was, "what's this song about?" and you know – I don't know what these songs are about – they're just to make the crowd move, but I was wearing a t-shirt that had these Rottweilers on it so I was like, "I don't know – it's about dogs." So he wrote about dogs. He just sat there for like two hours and wrote this whole song about this dog who jumped the fence, peed on trees and chased this cat and I was like, "holy shit!" I thought he totally wasn't even getting it – I thought we were getting nowhere. And then we just knocked it out."
When they make it to the rave, hip hop artists always enjoy their forays into the world of dance music. "When they come, they freak out," says Destructo. "I don't think the energy is like that at a hip hop show." Wax agrees: "They come to a festival, they see all these kids are having fun, everyone's open to what they're doing. I think they want to put themselves in that setting. The tracks always translate well on a big stage so it's a good way to fit in, to kinda push their genre forward to incorporate more dance."