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If you’ve found yourself in front of the mainstage at virtually any dance music festival in the world, chances are you’ve fallen victim to the sonic sorcery that is a Hardwell set. While the globetrotting phenom has positioned himself as a permanent fixture in the scene, he wasn’t always hammering out electronic bangers day in and day out.

He actually started up as a hip-hop DJ, a fact he let us in on through a surprise performance on the Mayan art car at last year’s EDC Vegas. It let us see an entirely new side of him that we never knew existed, and it was everything.

Hardwell is on tap tonight to put his programming skills to the test with a very special Night Owl Radio takeover. Since we are already fully aware of how well-versed the dude is in floor-fillers, we thought it would be fun to pick his brain about the hip-hop records that had the biggest impact on his early days.

Public Enemy “Harder Than You Think”

What a record! Politically charged, packing punches of hip-hop groove. It’s anthemic from the first beat right until the very last!

Run DMC “Peter Piper”

From their Raising Hell album, this record is a straight-up old-skool hip-hop favourite. It’s got this incredible nostalgic feel and yet sounds so fresh!

Eminem “Lose Yourself”

Eminem has made countless classics and still stands as one of the best out there. And whilst this one is a pretty obvious choice from his back catalogue, it’s also one of the finest beats going. The energy and lyrical content is pure fire. Perhaps the greatest motivational/psych-yourself-up record out there!

Busta Rhythms “Break Ya Neck”

Few rappers can match the speed and ferocity of Busta. “Break Ya Neck” proves just why! It’s fast-paced and will spin the head of any listener.

DMX “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem”

I’ve done numerous mashups of DMX’s stuff, and it’s pure devastation on the dancefloor. His flows are some of my favourite out there, and this record is a killer anthem for me!

2Pac & Snoop Dogg “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted”

A badass record and one of my favourite hip-hop albums. The combo of 2Pac and Snoop is perfection. This beat lifts any room it’s played in.

Warren G & Nate Dogg “Regulate”

It’s a standout gem and loved by almost all hip-hop fans. There’s subtleness to the production, which gives it this slick vibe that oozes groove.

Dr. Dre “Still D.R.E.”

Dre’s ability to carve out insatiable hip-hop beats is something that has earned him an army of fans. He’s one of my biggest inspirations and an artist I’d love to jump in the studio with and see what we could cook up. His return with the timeless 2001 album proved the Dr. has it.

Mobb Deep “Shook One Pt II”

I can’t admit to being their biggest fan, but there are a handful of records of MD records that were instant classics. This is my favourite!

Wu-Tang Clan “C.R.E.A.M.”

One of the biggest hip-hop records out there, and a firm player in my music library—“Cash Rules Everything Around Me.”

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