Not to be left embarrassed in front of his crush back in high school, Don Salem Phillipe, otherwise known as Don HardRisk, dropped a freestyle diss at an opponent during a rap battle at school.
This battle impressed all and sundry and heralded in a new chapter in his life – a life of music.
Apart from being an IT engineer, Don HardRisk is also a poet and lyricist, and transfers his emotions into the music he does.
His music revolves around real-life issues that had happened to him and of those around him, growing up in a refugee camp, coming from a poor background, broken homes, and dreaming big.
Don HardRisk niches his music towards sentimental/inspirational rap, while his song-writing skills both shadows and reflects his poetic prowess.
He began writing poems at the tender age of 11, and discovered his rapping skills by chance at the age of 13 during that class rap battle.
Don HardRisk told VIBEZ! he is part of a group called Young Ballers but upon moving to France in 2017, released a solo EP in 2018 tiled ‘Listen at own risk’. The following year, he released ‘The Famine’ in collaboration with Argentinian producer, P.A.
“I received publishing and record label deals from independent labels from the USA, UK and Italy after my solo journey had just begun in 2018,” he said from Paris, where he is now studying sound engineering.
He is an independent artist with publishing deals but no record deals. Music of the Sea and Rehegoo are his publishers.
In late November this year, Don HardRisk launched a 27-track album titled ‘13th Apostle’.
Every song was written and recorded with emotion, be it anger, grief, happiness or sadness, he said.
On the release of the album, Don HardRisk said: “I have impressed myself and that’s all that matters. I surpassed my own expectations”.
With the ability to speak five languages, including Afrikaans, he brings French, Spanish and Portuguese flavour into his music that is generally in English.
“I am promoting my LP titled ‘13th Apostle’ which is basically an album telling stories, preaching the ghetto gospel and inspiring my fellow listeners.”
His favourite song on the album is ‘Calculated Risk’.
A footnote to an Instagram post reads: “If you’re looking for something to dance to, this is probably not it. For pure inspiration only”.
Describing himself as an introvert, Don HardRisk said he finds it easier to express himself through writing than talking to people; be it for love, anger, sadness or happiness.
The artist, who labels himself as “creating half-decent music; and an unorthodox hustler, witty by nature”, is aware of the challenges Namibian upcoming artists and rappers experience.
“The challenges are different and depend on where you come from, and the hip-hop scene is not yet recognised in Namibia.”
He further stated that alternative hip-hop is harder to accomplish for everyone in the music industry, because it generally does not make people dance; it’s more like reciting poetry over backbeats.
“People just want something to hype them immediately, they want to vibe to some high-energy level frequencies.”
HardRisk’s aim is to finish his studies and return to Namibia to set up and run a huge music production company that will also act as a record label to help the less fortunate in the music industry.
Asked about the name, Don HardRisk, he said his friends would always say he takes risks that are hard, almost careless and reckless.
Find his music on donluafrica.com and soundcloud.