Music: I'm Da Man by J Harden

What independent artist can honestly say they have recorded alongside such legends as trailblazing Miami rapper Trick Daddy, multi-platinum superstar Akon and much-respected emcee Jadakiss?
How many can say that they have laid down lyrics over the sonic symphonies of platinum-selling producers Jim Jonsin and Justice League or have been interviewed for an hour-long on-air primetime broadcast with popular Atlanta radio personality Ryan Cameron? Or can they say that they expanded their brand internationally with Top 30-charting singles across the pond in the UK?
Not many artists whether independent or on a major label can claim bullets of this caliber to their resume. But Atlanta’s fastest-rising R&B sensation J Harden definitely can. Truth be told, J has been making major moves since his induction into the music industry. He hit the ground in full stride by penning the lyrics to Adina Howard’s seductive debut single “Nasty Grind“ and he hasn’t let up yet.
Now celebrating the runaway success of current singles “I’m Da Man” and “Umbrella,” the sultan of R&B steadily adds fire to this burning musical inferno with two upcoming back-to-back mixtapes– the sultry I’m Da Man Vol. 1 hosted by the much-respected DJ MLK and hood-inspired Streets Don’t Fail Me Now hosted by Cash Money Records affiliate Swamp Izzo. It’s more than evident that J Harden is here to stay.
“My style is no genre. I just tell the truth in my music. I tell my story,“ Harden explains. “I make good music that appeals to the masses. Both guys and ladies relate to it because they’re going through the same things I’ve been through.”
Born John Harden in the small town of Milledgeville, Ga., some 90 minutes Southeast of Atlanta, J’s father was a singer and drummer for several blues and R&B bands. His older sister sang background vocals for various Atlanta bass rap acts in the 1980s.
And even though the baby boy was naturally blessed with the pipes to move a congregation on any given Sunday morning, he first chose to pursue a career in basketball over music. “At six-foot-six inches, I had the juice,” J boasts.
When he wasn’t driving the rock down the hardwood court, John constantly found himself knee deep in trouble with teachers at school. It had gotten so bad that at 11 years old, his parents sent him to live with his uncle in the South Atlanta suburb College Park.
“I was the class clown,” he admits. “So I got into a little trouble, being a hard head. I was the baby boy so I got away with murder.”
He did, however, manage to put his classroom antics to the side long enough to land a basketball scholarship to Albany State University. It was during the college years that he began dabbling in singing. He linked up with a fellow team member and together, they toured the college circuits performing anywhere they could.
But by the time he had earned a Bachelor’s degree in behavioral science, he decided upon a solo career in 2004. That same year, he wrote the lyrics to Adina Howard’s 2004 debut single “Nasty Grind.”
“That was my first introduction to music,” he thinks back. “I came in at a high level.”
The following year, he set Atlanta on fire with steamy hot debut single “Marching Band” featuring Mr. Raw. He then came right back in 2006 with the remix featuring Trick Daddy.
“That song took Atlanta by storm,” he declares. “I used to go to the club every night with 30 dancers from Clark Atlanta University drill team. There was not a person in Atlanta I didn’t touch with that song.“
In 2008, he hit them again with strip club anthem “Work That Pole.” Over the next four years, the song grew legs from Atlanta throughout the South and across the globe. It climbed to Number 23 on UK Top 30 in 2011. The only independent artist on the chart, fellow Atlanta rapper B.o.B was at Number 22. The overseas attention sparked a tour all across Europe.
“It was awesome in the UK. That’s when I realized I could be a real artist and a force to be reckoned with,” says Harden. “When you can go to a different culture and make them react like your home town, you got something special. They loved it. They cherish real music.”
Along with spreading his music all over the globe, he also kept the Internet buzzing with online hit singles “Lifting Me Up” featuring Jadakiss, “She’s Outta Control” featuring David Banner and “Strugglin” featuring Fish Scales of Nappy Roots. He has also crooned vocals for the likes of Slick Pulla and Houston hometown hero Trae the Truth.
“I’ve had a chance to be amongst the greats and make some music with some legends,” says Harden.
He is now embarking on one of his greatest feats to date. Fueled by singles “I’m Da Man” and “Umbrella,” J Harden is preparing the release of two upcoming back-to-back mixtapes– the sultry I’m Da Man Vol. 1 hosted by the much-respected DJ MLK and hood block-inspired Streets Don’t Fail Me Now hosted by Cash Money Records affiliate Swamp Izzo.
“None of this has come easy. There is no success without struggle. Sometimes, you have to walk through the fire to get to the water,” says J. “My main thing is to be an inspiration to people trying to make it, to let them know that God is still in the blessing business. He’s still giving out blessings.”

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