When people dig up things that Hollywood actors have done or said in the past, they’re usually a cause of embarrassment at best, or a reason to retire from public life forever at worst. With Tom Hardy, however, everything he did before starring in films like Mad Max: Fury Road and The Dark Knight Rises seems to be goofy and endearing, like his long lost Myspace profile and now, his old rap mixtape.
In 2011, the British actor told BBC Newsbeat that he started rapping at “14 or 15”, and although he modestly insisted that he wasn’t very good at it, he clearly impressed some folks – he had a record deal, and he was travelling with some pretty important industry players. “I used to be with the guy who managed Leela James and Lauryn Hill, Pras, the Fugees and all that,” he said. “I worked out with (Grammy-winning producers) Warren Riker and Gordon Williams. I’ve recorded loads of stuff but it’s never been released.”
The music was seemingly lost to time until now. 19 years after it was originally recorded, Hardy’s mixtape, recorded under the name ‘Tommy No. 1’, has appeared on Bandcamp – and it’s actually pretty solid. Hardy isn’t a gamechanging rapper but he’s certainly not a bad one, and the production from Eddie Too Tall fits his flow. It’s all lo-fi 90s rap: dusty samples, crunchy breakbeats, and snatches of movie dialogue.
The mixtape was posted to Bandcamp by Eddie Too Tall, real name Edward Tracy. “Made in a bedroom 1999 these mixtapes were never really finished,” Tracy writes in its description.
Hardy, now 40, admitted to Newsbeat that he wasn’t talented enough to turn rap into a career, but that period was nevertheless “an important time for me to stand on my own and do what I thought was important”.