Happy Hour is our new series that takes various, upcoming and established, artists out to our favorite local spots, to enjoy a casual conversation over food and drinks.
Cheers to good music and good company ~
Hip-hop heads probably know of Hak, as a member of NYC group, Ratking, but not too much beyond that. And that's probably because he's been hiding away in the studio, diligently focusing and pushing his craft, which we'll soon see pay off in his debut solo project.
So, after a couple, failed scheduling attempts (because frankly, that's what it takes in the massive sprawl that is LA), we finally met up at notorious craft beer joint in K-town, Beer Belly. Hak commuted all the way from Redondo Beach, without a grunt (like a true New Yorker), after spending the day practicing yoga with his friend.
We ordered a couple rounds, and here’s what happened:
What have you been up to in LA?
I’ve been here for 3 or 4 days, my friend flew me out, the reason I’m coming out here is to continue working on this record here in downtown Los Angeles and in Santa Monica.
Things you like more about LA than NY? Vice versa?
LA: I like the food more, well that’s not entirely true because you can whatever you want to eat any cuisine back home but I just like the Mexican culture out here, how it’s so seamless. There’s more sun out here too, and I live for that.
NY: Well, you don’t have to uber everywhere, you can jump on the train, and get as sauced as you want and not have to worry about how your going to make it back home.
What was it like growing up in Harlem?
Growing up Uptown, there’s a lot of vibrance, a lot of soul, black mecca of America if you will. I grew up on 125th st, literally like the crossroads, a lot of my musical influence and taste comes from there, growing up around churches and gospel, my parents playing a lot of jazz & blues, it gave me a unique perspective, vantage point on the world.
Are you involved with skate culture?
I used to skate. I grew up and supported a lot of young heads skating. At one point, I wanted to be a pro skateboarder…but so did every kid. I was pretty good, pretty “steezy” I’ve been told. I lived with a bunch of skaters at one point, Adam Zhu, Sean Powers...
Do you usually freestyle your songs or do you prefer to write?
I usually freestyle until I get a flow for a track. But I’m always writing, everyday.
How is your music going to be different from Ratking?
No one’s told the story I’m telling, grew up the way I’ve grown up, tried the things I’ve tried, produce the way I produce. My solo music I’m really excited for, also nervous, but optimistic. It’s going to be for you, for my mom, my brother, my dad, anyone I know, I think it’ll be perfect, it’s for the youth. It’s for you.
So, your upcoming solo album…Inspiration? Message?
So, this is the second time I re-started the project, but looking back it is all a blessing.
Last month, I was coming home around three a.m. on the train, and it was an empty car...I walked up the stairs and these two kids came up in these 700 Fills, big ol’ jackets, and pressed me against the gate. I was coming from this recording session and they took my laptop, I was begging them, it was almost funny. I was just like, “Yo, please this has my songs, I’ll literally walk my ass to the ATM and take out whatever, please."
They took it, it sucks. You never know what life is going to throw at you…you’ve heard that a million times. The message is what I’m going through, the feeling, sounds...
I think that’s better than the alternative excuse, “Oh, everything happens for a reason”…I don’t know about that…but, now, you just have to be better…
Yea, you have to move on...breathe for a second. Alright, I couldn’t have gotten half my face blown off.
Or even music-wise, you can think of it as, this is in the past now so…
It’s empowering, there’s more to talk about, talking is good.
What about a name?
I think it’s going to be called, actually I don’t know yet.
Do you have some sort of tracklist or producers you’re working with?
Well, I’m working with me, Hak. I don’t want to give it away because I don’t know if it’ll make it the cut. Hopefully, a couple heads will be on it, my mom is going to be all on it, shouting and telling me I’m the dopest person ever, hopefully she’ll sing something, my neighbor…I think you’ll have a verse, right? No one is really on it right now. Just solo, completely produced, recorded, vocals by me in my bedroom.
How did you get into modeling? Is this a large focus now?
Honestly, it just kind of fell into my hands. My friend Dylan was walking with one of the directors of the agency I signed to (Re: Quest Model Management), and I guess they were out for lunch or something, and the guy pointed to an ad that I happened to be in...either some Adidas or Converse campaign I had done that year, and Dylan just said he knew me and could bring me in.
Favorite or go-to fit?
Now, I’m probably more conscious about what I wear and how I look…depending on what you’re wearing, it says a lot about your first judgment of the person…you don’t have to look “good,” but at least comfortable…Go-to would be anything that’s not too hard to put on, or casual class.
So, what are the essentials?
Same underwear everyday, tidy whities.
What about your other artistic skills/interests?
I try not to do too many things. I can’t balance too many things…So I paint, model, and I write music…the rest, I don’t really do, I’m kind of bad at it…
Did you start off painting?
----Middle school was very musically-oriented, but yea I didn’t pay any mind was completely immersed visually, always drawing.
Say this was MTV Room Raiders, what are some things we would find…or maybe, things you wouldn’t want us find?
Negatives, oil paints, frames, lots of books, some dirty laundry, empty mugs with remnants of ginger and lemon, a Casio organ...there’s always some drawings in the works.
Your favorite meme or gif?
Any meme that Arvid Logan makes—my friend, he’s a really dope designer…if you’re from NY, then it really hits the spot…
I saw that “Can I make you fall in love with a few words” meme about you (referencing his lyric in "Arnold Palmer"). How romantic are you?
I’m think I’m a romantic nomad.
Thugger or Future?
All I got to say is, “A lot of n*ggas listen to Future and don’t got one.”
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