Harn Solo is not a movie character.
Also known as Michael Harney, this 28-year-old white hip hop artist is making a name for himself in the New Orleans music industry. Solo says he chose the stage name Harn Solo not to be linked with the Stars Wars movie, but rather to identify his musical creativity and presence as being “one and only.”
Solo loves the New Orleans hip hop music scene, describing it as a “diverse gumbo pot, consisting of many different styles and incorporating solo artists, group artists, white artists, black artists, female artists, gangster rappers, and underground rappers.”
The musician also is passionate about the New Orleans community and its people, a love distinctly illustrated in his lyrics and the local images that are depicted in his music videos. Clearly, he seems to have found his soul in the Crescent City.
Solo was drawn to the city 8 ½ years ago, after living in Arizona, Colorado and California, because of an interest in working in the tourism industry. Without formal training in singing, songwriting, or music education, he also decided to pursue his dream of becoming a music recording artist by emulating other hip hop artists whom he admired. He began rapping at age 20, which is considered late in the game by music industry standards.
Solo currently manages his own music career while working as a waiter at Mr. B’s Restaurant in the French Quarter. Not only does he enjoy singing freestyle rap and performing on stage and in online music videos, but he also enjoys connecting with visitors and locals.
Today, Solo frequently appears at venues in the New Orleans area and is set to release his fifth independent album, Reaching Higher, featuring a hyper-charged electronic soundtrack. The album will also feature appearances by other New Orleans hip hop artists.
Solo reports that he has drawn strength and garnered a great deal of support by participating in local social and professional networks that share his love of hip-hop music and the city. He works with many other local hip-hop artists, too, whom he refers to as his “crew.” Resources such as WeArePSP Studios, Inner Recess, Traffic Boutique, and Ollie on Freret Street Skate Shop are some of the sponsors that help promote Solo’s live shows and online music, as well as distribute his graphic stickers and tee-shirts. In turn, Solo mentors younger hip-hop artists in New Orleans, as a way of giving back to the community.
“I am inspired most by the passion within the New Orleans music scene and the positivity out there,” says Solo, who adds that he is not motivated by “national cats or any people that are big headliners around the world.”
“The people around me are my inspiration. I have a nice community of artists here, so it’s really the people in my life who have inspired me, not someone that I see on TV.”
One has only to view Solo’s artsy video about the French Quarter, Old Canal, to gain a sense of his love for New Orleans. Take a look.
Michael Fishman is among students in Dr. Diane Grams’ Research Design Course at Tulane University who have been conducting interviews of people involved in the arts; their stories are published by NolaVie.