Houston-bred rap-rock fusion artist Hyro the Hero (formerly known as Hyro da Hero) is burning down the familiar lines that separated genres with a unique creative fire that brings them together and makes the old new again.
Slated for a full release later this year, his latest project, Kids Against The Monsters, a nod to his Houston hip-hop roots, taps into the anger, fear, and frustration that plagued so many people, brought on by the pandemic and social justice issues that it brought about. Embraced early on by Deftones, Wu-Tang Clan, and the Vans Warped Tour, Hyro the Hero became the first artist to ever play three stages at the Download Festival UK. He brought together listeners across the cultural spectrum and inspiring a new generation of hip-hop and rock enthusiasts along the way.
Though his sound, a mashup of Rage Against the Machine with trap, has earned him accolades among peers and fans alike, the road to get to this point was a long one for Hyro the Hero. Inspired by a high-school breakup and sampling rock songs on his rap tracks after falling in love with the fusion of rap and hard rock, he released his first mixtape Gangsta Rock on Christmas 2007, shortly after moving to Los Angeles. Rock N’ Roll Gangsta followed in 2008, dedicated to the memory of Ryan Halligan after enduring years of bullying, and Belzo Horizonte in 2009, which contained his first track with no samples. He released his debut album Birth School Work Death as Hyro da Hero in 2011, with a tour to support it in the UK and Ireland in 2012.
In 2016, his second effort, Flagged Channel, contained the hit single ‘Bullet’ that amassed over a million plays. The hit single helped him get signed to Better Noise Music, where he’s still signed, supporting him in making Kids Against The Monsters. After non-stop touring in support of his latest album, Hyro dove into making another work of art with producer Matt Good (Asking Alexandria, Hollywood Undead, From First to Last). The mixtape was completed over the course of two weeks, under a blast of inspiration. As hard rock and hip-hop co-mingle more than ever, the timing seems right for Hyro the Hero to work towards further cementing his name in the game.
Hyro the Hero sat down with Highwire Magazine to discuss his new mixtape, blending genres to make socio-political statements and what’s next on his agenda.
You titled your new mixtape Kids Against the Monsters. What is the meaning behind the title?
When I say “Kids Against The Monsters,” I’m speaking about the 99% versus the 1%. It’s us against them trying to divide us through race and class. Once we realize the power we have, I believe we can make a huge difference in this world.
You had to revisit your artistic roots for this mixtape. Tell me about that process.
It felt amazing to go back to my mixtape roots, and it’s an exciting feeling to have fun rocking out. Back in the day, I would sample rock songs, rap on verses, and leave the choruses. Now I actually have the rockstars I would normally sample and have my own music, making it extra special.
Speaking of tracks from the mixtape, you previously released ‘Retaliation Generation’ featuring Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills and ‘We Believe; featuring David Draiman of Disturbed, some of rock’s most notable names. What has it been like to have their support?
It’s such a dope feeling to have those heavy hitters. It lets me know all my hard work paid off- knowing I’ve gained the respect of the amazing artists featured on my mixtape. For them to introduce me to their fans is so epic.
Rock doesn’t drop mixtapes in the way that rap does. What made you want to drop a mixtape and not do a traditional album?
COVID left a big hole in the music industry; usually, you drop an album, then you tour. Since we couldn’t tour, I felt it would be so epic to drop a mixtape in rock featuring some heavy hitters. I’m a hip-hop dude at heart, and I’ve never seen it done before, so I thought it’d be sick to bring that vibe to the table.
Kids Against The Monsters is a nuanced, reflective piece of storytelling that channels the anger many have felt this past year. How did you channel that anger so cohesively for this mixtape, with the most upfront song being “We Believe”?
“This style of music makes it easy for me to express myself. We are in the woke era where everyone has to have an idea (of) what’s going on socially. I’ve been doing this for years, so it comes easily to me. It’s just great to have more ears listening.”
Your mixtape is also part of a broader genre-bending movement that goes back to the roots of socio-political rock-rap fusion, pioneered by Run DMC and the Beastie Boys, with the likes of Fever 333 and yourself bringing it back. Where do you see the movement of genre-bending music going today?
Oh yeah, it’s coming back. I feel genres have blended so much with the technology of today that listeners no longer stick to one style of music. Now is the perfect time for someone like me to come out and make a lot of noise.
I read that you’re Trinidadian, like me. Which Soca artists do you go to for inspiration?
So dope that you’re Trinidadian! I’m so inspired by the culture. I listen to a lot of Sugar Aloes, Barron, and Krossfyah. I love mixing it in the music. The beginning of my song ‘Fight’ is inspired by soca. As far as other artists that inspire me, I’d have to say Tupac, Eminem, At The Drive-In, Rancid, and Bad Brains.
When can the rest of the mixtape be expected, and are there any tour plans around it?
I’ll be dropping single after single like you lock in a new artist in a video game. (laughs) All I can say is that more is on the way.