Mobsquad Nard It's been a long, steady come up for Mobsquad Nard. The 25-year-old MC first kicked a rhyme as a fifth grader growing up in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. But it wasn't until half a decade later, after picking up rapping again with a tight group of his friends, when the rising high schooler took a closer look at hip-hop as a serious outlet. And his earliest influences pointed him in the right direction. "The first music I remember listening to is Suave House; my dad had an 8Ball & MJG tape," Nard says. "2pac, though, 2pac was who I remember listening to most... When somebody make music that got truth in it, you can relate to it even if you ain't really been through it." Nard's close-knit circle formed the hip-hop collective Mob Squad and the crew dropped their first project, Get Your Mind Right Vol. 1, in the summer of 2005 while Nard was in high school. By the end of the next year, their youthful aggression and energetic rhymes—think a raucous blend of Boosie and Meek Mill—caught the ear of Mob Boss, the owner of Jacksonville record label Hustle House, the godfather of the city's club scene and an artist himself, who took them under his wing. "He was a club promoter, but shit, that's like calling Jesus a carpenter," Nard says about Mob Boss. "He's bigger than that to me. He was like my role model."Mob Squad released a series of group projects through Hustle House—most recently the Snappin' On Shit Vol 1-3 mixtape series—before Mob Boss' death in 2011 slowed down their momentum and a drug charge landed Nard behind bars by the summer of 2013. "I was sitting still for 7 months but the world kept moving, people had to do they own thing," he says about the jail stint. On his release in January 2014, Nard began focusing on his solo music while getting himself out of the streets by supporting himself and his family as a certified bail bondsman. Now he's gearing up to release his first solo project, "Everything Clean But Da Ashtray," Nardo Da'Vinci, later this year and he knows it's time to make heads outside of his region turn his way. "Right now it's like establishing that first impression," he says. "It's a lot of people who do know [me] 'cause I've been grindin', but compared to where I wanna be, it ain't enough... It's a lot of people who rap who just got a raw beat or a raw voice, but they ain't got that talent. And I got that." Right on time.