On Saturday night Harry splashes Sky Vodka in the glass of friend and fellow NYC promoter, Trina Sunshine, at Deity Lounge-- right after blowing out the candles on the vanilla iced birthday cake for his 43rd birthday.
His cake says, "Happy Earth, Strong DJ Hard Hittin Harry" with two musical notes dressed on the side. He says he has tried to shake the Hard Hittin Harry name several times, but it has stuck. He acquired the name in the 80s when Chicago House music was big and many of the DJs had three-part names such as “Farley Jack Master Funk.”
"My friends used to say I go hard at parties," he says. "And it kind of stuck."
Harry with NYC model and actress, Khayriyyah Muhammad
Harry's finished birthday cake
He smiles warmly at everyone. A tiny labret piercing accents his chin and has a subtle resonance of a time when the labret was once reserved for male members of the higher castes in Mayan ancient civilizations. His neatly combed salt and peppered beard hangs four inches down from his grinning chin. Haiti-born, Harry is a Brooklyn resident by way of Canada and New Jersey.
Dressed in an orange ti e-dyed t-shirt and a black hat perched on his head, Sunday night was day two of his month long birthday celebration. He has a weekly DJ'ing gig at Deity Lounge-- along with a weekly gig at one of NY's hottest clubs in the Meatpacking district, Hotel Gansevoort, along with DJing events for Adidas/ Heritage, Sketchers, Diesel USA, and Nike Town.
He has DJ'ed at several Afro-Punk functions, including this year's block party along with several days at last year's festival. (Did I mention he also has his own weekly online radio show called "Global Jam Session" at axiomonline.tv.
Instead of being glued to his usual post this Sunday night, Harry casually broke away from the DJ booth to mingle with the large crowd that gathered to celebrate not only his birthday, but the marking of his 30th year in the DJ'ing arena.
Harry with friends and business partners
Harry, who says he plays for the crowd, not for himself (although he admits he gets personal satisfaction of playing 80s hiphop tunes), has DJ'ed at more parties across the country over the last 30 years that he's lost count. He does remember one of the first tracks he ever spun, The Sugarhill Gang's, Rapper's Delight, and he placed it as the first song on his 30th anniversary compilation c.d. that he passed out for free on Sunday night. The c.d. takes a journey on his career, serving as a musical timeline over the last three decades.
Saturday night he started his celebration by throwing a birthday bash at the grand opening of Littlefield, a new performing arts center in Brooklyn. That night Harry was presented with a plaque from hiphop pioneer, DJ Kool Herc, transcribed with "in honor of 30 years of keeping the masses dancing through the decades."
"I was like, wow, man," Harry recounts of Saturday night. "I look up to DJ Kool Herc, he's a legend."
But meeting with DJ Kool Herc was not his first encounter with a musical legend. Harry's career took off in 1993 when he was hired as the resident DJ for the Fugees and toured with them, with their debut album project, “Blunted on Reality.” After the tour, his career took several turns, including starting his own PR company called Meridian Entertainment where over the past decade, his company has represented numerous record labels, artists, producers, actors, special events, clothing lines, and the beauty industry. But he never stopped DJ'ing.
Along with his weekly gigs, Harry recently shot a pilot for an upcoming DJ reality show tentatively called "Rock Star DJ." Right now he's listening to Jay-Z's new album, The Blueprint 3, and considers himself a mush of music tastes.
"I like it all," he says, "the reggae, the rock, the pop, the hiphop, all of it."
And when asked if he thinks he fits the afro-punk mold, he says "yes."
"I definitely don't fit that corporate mold," Harry says with a faint laugh. "I've learned in my life, if I want something done, I'll just do it myself."
Dancin Til Dawn - Lenny Kravitz