JEMBE TV’s new series Full Scope interviews crucial DJs, music producers, and artists.
DJ Hard Hittin Harry’s sets are engineered to make your body move. During a given performance, one might hear the newest in afrobeats, house, rap, or the exact right R&B classic. The longtime DJ has become a go-to in New York City and beyond, hosting some of the city’s most anticipated and attended music events.
Starting his career after studying radio & television broadcasting at Announcer Training Studios (ATS) at Crown Business Institute in Times Square, DJ Hard Hittin Harry started DJing at Quest Community Vibrations (WSOU 89.5 FM), where he would develop a relationship with Bobbito Garcia (of Stretch & Bobbito WKCR) and later would go on to be the first DJ for the legendary Hip-Hop group — The Fugees.
Recently, JEMBE sat down with DJ Harry from his basement studio in Newark to talk about his career and current projects he is working on, and how DJing continues to play a major role in developing a sound of his own.
What attracted you to the music industry?
Growing up I was surrounded by all genres of music through my parents. My father was a DJ and radio personality in Haiti, and when my parents migrated to the U.S., I followed in my Father’s footsteps, became a DJ and aspired to be in the radio industry. Growing up in Newark (Brick City) NJ, I would spend my time mixing records with friends. As a teenager, I played everything from Hiphop, Disco, Rock, Funk, Soul, Reggae, Classic Haitian Kompas, Salsa, Jazz and more. During that time, I became addicted to collecting records and got heavy into the music scene, listening and following legendary DJs such as DJ Red Alert, Marly Marl, Frankie Crocker, and Mr. Magic. They made me want to DJ as a profession, especially DJ Red Alert, who was so critical in launching the careers of so many artists – Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, and De La Soul.
So, how did you get your start?
I studied radio & television broadcasting at Announcer Training Studios / Crown Business Institute in Times Square and the instructors there were actual radio DJ personalities– a lot of the DJs on 92 KTU / KISS FM at the time. After completing my stint at ATS, I received my FCC license and joined a community radio show Quest Community Vibrations (WSOU 89.5 FM). During that time I developed a relationship with Bobbito Garcia (of Stretch & Bobbito WKCR), who used to work at Def Jam. Bobbito serviced me promo Def Jam records and I began to receive other promos from other labels. Also, I got connected with the Fugees through a mutual business contact, Papa Levi and ended up signing with them as their first DJ. The Fugees experience changed my life which led into PR.
What makes DJ Hard Hittin Harry, DJ Harry Hittin Harry?
I’m a Party Rocker! I bring the energy and really want for people to enjoy themselves. I play for the people! I believe it’s important to cater to the audience and, again, I really want for people to have a good time. I learned that from Wyclef – study your crowd.
Name some of your favorite artists or performers to you’ve worked with:
The Fugees, Patra, Shabba Ranks, Dru Hill, Isaac Hayes, Wu-Tang Records, John Cena, KRS-One & The Temple of Hip Hop. In fact, working with KRS-One led me to start my own independent PR firm and KRS-One was my very first client.
What was the first album or record you purchased?
Rapper’s Delight; it was such a transcendent record. It was so unique. I mean you’re hearing these guys perform and they were so amazing! That album was so critical to the hip-hop industry.
What mark would you like to leave on the music industry?
I want to be known as an amazing DJ, producer, and filmmaker. Also, I was to be known as someone who was easily approachable. I like to engage with my audience. I am the kind of DJ that will walk around the room and really look to connect with people. Like I said, I’m a Party Rocker!
What advice would you have for someone who is inspired by you to pursue their dreams in the world of music?
Do your homework! Learn about the greats that came before you and what made them great. And, practice, practice, practice! I’ve been DJing for over 30 years now and I still practice to this day because you never know when you might have to jump in and do something. Also, I would suggest to aspiring DJs to learn how to play vinyl. I was very fortunate because I grew up in an era where there was vinyl, so I learned how to DJ on vinyl. Lastly, do not play for yourself, play for your audience!