The Green Face: Durham’s rising rapper

By Morgan Crutchfield
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

When people think of a green face, the adjectives “rage” and “envy” may come to mind.  Or they might even think of the popular superhero, The Incredible Hulk.  But for Durham native Thomas Hardison, the green face gives him a different kind of strength.

This promotional photo shows Tom with his cartoon alter ego The Green Faceded. Image by Kevin Lee.

The 22-year olds’ hip-hop identity is Thee Tom Hardy, a.k.a. The Green Faceded.  “I wanted to keep my identity a secret and just wanted people to hear the music,” said Hardison explaining his choice.

Hardy is quite well known among the hip hop crowds of Durham and around N.C. Central University’s campus. He showed enough talent early on for Grammy-award-winning producer 9th Wonder to sign him. Now he’s getting noticed among a broader crowd.

“Sucessful on a cosmic level” is how hip hop magazine described his single “Tom’s Comet” (with King Mez) this past March 7.

Tom got the hip-hop bounce when he was a little boy, which may have come as a surprise to his parents since they did not really like him to listen to that music.

“My parents just didn’t understand hip-hop and all they knew about it was what they saw on the news about it being misogynistic and violent,” said Hardy.

But he knew and loved a different, non-violent side of hip-hop.

“All the kids would be rapping or singing in school and it sounded so foreign and cool to me that I wanted to listen to it.”

For the young artist, inspiration came from more than once source.  And of course there is that moment when you know you love something.

“I knew I wanted to learn more about hip-hop when I saw the B.O.B (Bombs over Baghdad) by Outkast video,” said Hardy. “They are probably my biggest hip-hop influence.”

Although Tom is heavily influenced by Outkast and other hip-hop artists, his inspiration comes from his father, Tom Hardison, a drummer for artists who come through Durham for gigs.

“I think I inherited a lot of my talent from my dad.  He is a really creative guy who loves music and literature and all those things ended up being my passion,” he said. “I also got my sense of rhythm and timing from that guy.”

“I wanted to be a drummer, but in the sixth grade, everyone wanted to play the drums, so I decided to play the tuba instead.  I didn’t want to be one of a million,” said Hardy.  Of course his father understood and was nothing short of supportive.

“His mother and I tried to foster his creativity and appreciation for music and the arts and wanted to help him to enjoy trying new things,” said Hardison.

He self-released his first two mix tapes Grape Soda Chronicles and More Tee as Teethree, his rap name during high school years.  Soon after graduation from Hillside High School, he decided to take hip-hop more seriously.

He had heard of hip-hop producer, 9th Wonders’ Hip-Hop in Context class at NCCU through long-time friend, Lance Scott, Jr.

“I have been a fan of his music for a long time so when I had the opportunity to meet him, I made the most of it,” Tom said.  After their meeting, 9th Wonder invited Tom back to the studio and they have been tight ever since.

Thee Tom Hardy signed to 9th Wonders’ label, Jamla Records, in 2009 and put out two projects, Curse of the Green Faceded with Don Canon and Secret of the Green Magic with DJ Green Lantern. 

Although Tom recently decided to leave Jamla, he and 9th Wonder’s friendship remains.  “I’m going to take what I learned from that experience and come back out with a whole new set of music, whole new vibe and energy,” said Hardy. “I’m not going to let this set me back to start.”

His advice to other young artists who have a dream of being whatever they want to be is to always keep moving forward.