Fire Starter: Hardo

Hardo has seen hard times, but it looks like he will finally be able to put it all behind him. Lucky for him, he wasn't just blessed with rap talent, but has a couple high-powered friends who are able to help.

The 21-year-old Pittsburgh native has the backing of his childhood buddy Mac Miller and T.I. as well. "Both parties, they're helping me get out of my situation and I respect it," Hardo told MTV's Mixtape Daily when we caught up with him at Hot 107.9's Birthday Bash in Atlanta on June 15.

Hardo met Mac back in Pittsburgh's Taylor Allderdice High School — the same school that Wiz Khalifa attended and named his 2012 mixtape after. While Mac went on to establish himself as a rap star, Hardo continued to work on his own music... and dabble in the streets.

After serving time on drug charges, Hardo came out and continued to pursue music. It all paid off because his January video for his single "Stressin'" was enough to catch the attention of T.I. On the track, the up-and-comer was rhyming about his dealings in the street and in jail. "I acknowledge all authentic talent that is worth observing, and Hardo, I've been looking at him since like the first of the year," Tip told MTV News in a separate interview at Birthday Bash.

"I guess he ended up seeing that video and just the delivery and the format of the song and what it was about," Hardo said. "He knew that you gotta be real to even talk about the stuff that I was rappin' about in that song. He reached out to me when I came home, hollered at me. It was like the second I been home since I been out on a violation and it was just like that."

Now with solid affiliations, it's possible that Mac and T.I. will find a way to make Hardo a part of their respective REMember Music and Hustle Gang cliques in an official manner. They're certainly working on it. "We do things very organically and naturally over here at Hustle Gang. We're a family more so than a record label. So we just really had to make sure that we had like minds," Tip said. "I'm extremely interested in trying to figure out a way that we can work something out to make sure he can put the chief on his chest."