Young rap artist poised to put city on the map

Dirty Harry, a.k.a. Harmen, is far from being the boy that used to rap in the hallways of his junior high school in southeast Calgary.

Since last year, the up-and-coming rapper opened up the stage for rap artists Mos Def, Big Sean, Meek Mills and Ace Hood at Flames Central. Now he’s set to do the same job this week for rappers Fabolous and Pusha T at Jimmy’s Nightclub at 1316 – 33 St. N.E. on May 24.

It all started with a black notebook when Harmen was just 10 years old.

His younger cousin, Atinder Dhillon, says Harmen used to write his music in that notebook.

“What we thought was a hobby for Harmen grew into his career, as he got older.”

The love for rap – being inspired by the stories of others and wanting to tell his own – pushed Harmen to enter into rap battles at age 17.

That’s where he gained the attention of other local rap artists in the hip hop community.

Photo by Anup DhaliwalThe rapper explains, “Battling helps keep your lyrics sharp. With battling the whole room is hanging off of every word you say, every word is crucial, there’s no beat that you can sound cool on, you have to make a rhythm with your voice, it’s a lot different.”

Danny Epic, one of Harmen’s opponents in his early battle days, says he knew they would always “put on a good show” but it was “nerve-racking competing against him.”

Epic says Dirty Harry’s style used to be “more punch line flamboyant.”

In fact, Harmen acknowledges that during battles, “I am an evil, mean person.”

Indeed, according to his cousin Dhillon, “The main thing Harmen has is confidence; what other people seem to lack.”

But, since moving out of battling and into performing, Epic says Dirty Harry’s style has “completely grown.”

Harmen’s first show was at the Falconridge/Castleridge Community Association. He remembers about 20 people showing up to watch him perform.

“It’s taken awhile to build; you have to pay your dues and eventually people will see that you’re doing well and you can handle and kill shows.”

Harmen has been working hard on recording his mix tape, The Learning Curve; his music videos, Chasing Dreams and Grape Swishers, have over 5,000 views on YouTube.

Harmen’s producer, Evgeniy Bykovets, at White Russian Productions says, “Dirty likes them big beats. He wants every song to be a banger. Even the slower tracks the beats are pretty epic.”

Bykovets says, “Dirty is more new school with his approach and has a genuine style that reflects who he is as a person. It’s that eat good, look good, feel good kind of music – what they call ‘fresh.’ New school flavour for the soul.”

With his new music video, Patience, just released, Harmen is eager for his fans to hear his growth as an artist.

The rapper says Patience is about waiting your turn in life. He says he hopes his fans get their own personal lessons from his music.

Bykovets says, “In the year that I have worked with him you can definitely see the improvement. He’s been doing all kinds of live shows too. And that makes for a more-well rounded artist. He still has a way to go and I expect to see some big tracks coming out of him in the future.”

So when Harmen talks about how “no one from Calgary has blown up and repped it properly,” he gives the sense that he might just be the one to do it.

adhaliwal@cjournal.ca