Summer of 2014, I’m invited to DJ at an underground club in the short north of Columbus Ohio. The DJ I’m filling in for is a World renown DMC finalist. (DJ Bombay) Anybody that knows me, knows that I’m not a turntablist nor eclectic as Bombay, so I was a little skeptical about DJing the event. As I’m winning the crowd over throughout the night, being myself, this curly head kid walks over to me and asked “Where’s Bombeardo?” with this look of disappointment. Right away I could tell it wasn’t me he was disappointed in. You see, the one they call Hafrican was different…I mean like…one of these kids is doing their own thing different, and he really dug people that got him. And trust me, if you know DJ Bombay…he definitely knows “different”.
Hafrican appeared to be a regular college kid looking to party, but he was actually on the bill to perform that night. He then tells me that he won’t need my services for his set. I laughed. He walks over to asks where he can plug in his drum machine. What happened after that was pure supernatural. This kid from the suburbs of Newark, Ohio played beat after beat and matched it with compelling and comical rhymes that left the crowd in awe. For his next magical trick, he sampled an entire rhythm section by beat-boxing into his sampler and made the illest beat right there on the spot. I was speechless.
Over the next two years, his manager and I would talk, and I told him as soon as I got a platform, and when HAF had a project, I would cover his story. That time is now. S.O. On The Table caught up with Hafrican at a Gahanna pub this week.
OTT: How did you come up with the name Hafrican? I take it because you’re….
Hafrican: …..half black, half white. Yeah, but really when I was in high school some kid said it as an insult. Being an artist, I said to myself it sounded pretty cool so I just used it as a rap name.
OTT: So take us back to what made you want to rap.
Hafrican: Ok so, I’m originally a drummer and I was always in bands, so that’s where the love of music started, but if I had to pinpoint what rap artist made me want to rap, I would have to say Snoop Dogg. He had a real smooth delivery. *Hafrican recites Doggy Dogg World at the table:
“It’s like everywhere I look and everywhere I go, I’m seeing muthafuckas trynna steal my flow…..”
Funny thing is, I started out drumming for a punk band. I really didn’t care for the music, I just wanted to jam. So one day they approached me like “Dude we heard you smoke weed, and this is like a Christian band.” I’m sitting there like “Christian Band?” but then it kinda made sense because in punk, it’s hard to make out the lyrics anyway. Needless to say that experience helped me to follow the journey to Hip Hop.
*Waitress interrupts to serve us our bourbon milkshakes
Hafrican: How Hip Hop is this?….freakin milkshakes nshit…LOL! At least it’s got liquor in it!
OTT: So describe your style of rap
Hafrican: My music is fun and full of randomness. Definitely for the college crowd or listeners with a sense of humor. With me, I’m just not afraid to be myself….I mean really, ask yourself “what’s the worse that can happen?” Nothin. hahahaha. You might see me in one setting with some preppy college kid clothes on and then you could see me in a video with a fuckin African…uhhh…I don’t know what you call it but like a fuckin diaper or some shit with war paint. I just go with it man. The name of my current project is called Weirdo, so that should tell you a little something about me. LOL.
OTT: So being half white and half back, what are some of the challenges you face being a bi-racial artist?
Hafrican: I’m sure I encounter what every labeled biracial artist encounters. For the white crowd I’m not white enough and for the black crowd I’m not black enough. But hey that’s the story of my life. I remember being little, in the grocery store and someone calling my mother a Nigger-Lover. At the time it confused me, but as I experience racism when I got older, that shit hurt. So if I do write something serious, it’s about the struggle of having to survive in both worlds full of separation. That’s why lately I’ve been on some like “fuck it” I just gotta be me. And the benefit is, one night I could have a young college crowd going crazy nshit, the next night could be a 55 year old bobbing his head to “Suck my half black nuts” Crazy.
OTT: I’ve seen you rock on stages with Columbus Legend’s like Blueprint, Illogic, and Copywrite. Do you have any songs with them?
Hafrican: The only one I’ll say is Copy. I tried with Blue and Illogic but the plans always fell through. Me & Copy started out strictly business, but now we’re friends so it’s nothing to get him to jump on a track and vice versa.
OTT: So where do you see yourself a couple years from now?
Hafrican: Forward progression. Business-wise, I’ve always done better year over year. My manger Grant is great about booking my gigs. I’m always getting calls to do shows. A few of my singles have gotten picked up by a few indie labels, one being in the UK.
We released the single “Lose My Mind” with Fallsteeze (Soundcloud & Youtube) and that shit is up to like 65K views and spins, so I’m really happy with the momentum of the music right now. I’ve also dabbed into the EDM world which has really placed me on a big stage in a few areas in the country so I’m looking forward to nothing but good things this year.
OTT: Any final thoughts…..
Hafrican: I’m not gonna do the cheesy thing and say go buy my single or project, but for those reading this blog, I’m just a think-outside-the-box type of artist. I don’t try to fit and pattern or style. As selfish as it sounds, I make music for me to tell my story. The goal is to create, so I hope that my music touches the ears of people that are open to that, and hopefully convert a few that aren’t in the process.