I met Hass on a brick, October Saturday in Harlem. We were joined by his publicist and childhood friend. For those of you unfamiliar with Hass Irv, he is Harlem’s hidden gem. Most notable for his recent single “Celine” ft. Rich The Kid, Hass is making a name for himself in New York’s rap scene.
More than just the music, Hass lives, breathes and sleeps Harlem which is apparent in his lifestyle. Anywhere we walked in Harlem, people stopped to greet Hass or show him, love. Although Hass is both Harlem born, and Harlem made, he never forgets his African roots which have helped shape his outlook on life.
Agreeing to show me three of his favorite childhood spots, we began with House of Hoops on 125th. Hass pulled up wearing a white Vlone shirt, Gucci jeans, and Off-White prestos. As you can tell, he is no rookie to fashion. Reselling from the early age of 16, Hass has cultivated a following through his re-selling and love for sneakers, so it only seemed fitting for us to begin at the beginning.
The Knockturnal: Why did you pick House of Hoops as our starting point?
Hass Irv: When I was growing up there was Footlocker all around and I was into sneakers when I first came to America. I remember when they turned Footlocker into House of Hoops, the one on 125th (Harlem) was the first House of Hoops ever. It was definitely historic because before sneakers weren’t really a culture and then House of Hoops came out and they were doing these Player Exclusives where they would take basketball sneakers that [athletes] wear in-game and actually release it, these were sneakers exclusive to each basketball player so they would only be available at House of Hoops. Being that this was the first house of hoops sneaker culture really started growing in Harlem. There was this group of older african guys from my block called the Kicks Kings who would resell and they kinda got us into reselling too.
The Knockturnal: Can you talk a little bit about how your reselling opened the door to music?
Hass Irv: It was good for promotion and to keep people entertained. If a fight broke out in line and I would record it, everybody on my Instagram would be like where you at? Definitely helped keep people engaged. It kept people wanting to go to my page, wanting to know about sneakers.
The Knockturnal: What’s been your favorite memory at House of Hoops?
Hass Irv: The day that me and my boys decided to actually start reselling. It was 2012 I think. We went to go get some sneakers for back to school and struggled so much just to get one pair and we saw that the Kicks Kings had like 30 pairs. From that moment on everything changed. I decided that I no longer only want to get one pair of shoes, I wanted to get like 20 pairs and start reselling.
The Knockturnal: What are some of your other favorite sneaker shops?
Hass Irv: House of Hoops, Atmos, Jimmy Jazz -all the stores on 125th. I grew up going to all of them. Outside of retail stores I like Round Two in New York City and LA.
The Knockturnal: What’re your all-time favorite kicks?
Hass Irv: Air Jordan 1s, the newer version, because they’re comfy and go with whatever.
Following House of Hoops, Hass brought us to his first Harlem apartment:
The Knockturnal: Can you talk about the significance of the second spot that we visited?
Hass Irv: That was the first apartment that I lived in, in Harlem. I was born in Harlem in 96 and was sent to Africa, Guinea, when I was 2 to learn the tradition and culture. I came back when I was 7 and that was the first building I lived in when I came back. Lived in Africa for 5 years and didn’t really speak English when we got back. When I came it was my first time living with my mom. I moved around Harlem a lot. This apartment made me who I am today as a whole. If I didn’t move to that spot I wouldn’t be from Harlem and I wouldn’t be who I am.
The Knockturnal: Speaking of your family, were there many musical influences in your household?
Hass Irv: My older brother made music and lived in that apartment as well, but he got deported a year after I moved to the U.S. He was making music in Paris, but not while we were living together. I have a lot of siblings but didn’t live with any of them and grew up as an only child.
The Knockturnal: When did you start to take an interest in music?
Hass Irv: Around the time Hot N**** came out, I felt like I knew them, like they were from the block. I was living in the Bronx and I was always fond of music. I was playin with music and beats and a group of my friends would just hangout and freestyle. We were just having fun, we didn’t plan on being rappers at the time. I ended up sitting down and recording my first song at 18 and I was just free-styling with my friends.
The Knockturnal: What was the first song you ever put out?
Hass Irv: The first song I ever recorded was called “Let’s Get It” and the first song I ever put out was called “Blessed.” I started getting more serious with my music in 2017.
The Knockturnal: When was your first positive reaction or the first time you realized this is what you’re supposed to be doing?
Hass Irv: My first music video. It was for a song called “Finesse That” and that was the first solid single I had and I recorded that video on my block on 116th and it got a lot of buzz. I just felt like after that song I just knew I had it in me.
The Knockturnal: Favorite experience performing?
Hass Irv: Opening up for Young Thug in July 2018. I was overwhelmed at first but it was a dope experience.
The Knockturnal: How did that come about?
Hass Irv: My boy Will works at 88.1 FM and does this show called Drop The Heat. I released my single “IDK” through him at this station then he called me up one day and asked if I wanted to open up for Young Thug.
The third and final location Hass brought us to was the Malcolm Shabazz African Market:
The Knockturnal: What’s the significance of this third location?
Hass Irv: Growing up, I walked past the African Market almost every day. It’s a Harlem staple on 116th and I feel like it’s our stamp for everyone who lives on 116th and you don’t necessarily have to live there to be from there. Once you pass the African Market is when you officially step into little Africa.
The Knockturnal: What’s your favorite thing about the market?
Hass Irv: Everything that our culture has brought to the city, you can find there. The fabrics in there you’re not gonna find anywhere else, even in the fashion district. It’s our culture, it’s our market.
The Knockturnal: Can you talk about some of your notable collaborations with Rich The Kid and Sheck Wes?
Hass Irv: The song with Rich The Kid came about through his A&R, we both used to resell and he’s the homie. We set it up through him. When Sheck Wes first moved to Harlem we knew him, he was making music and was into sneakers too. Everyone knew we were making music and it was just natural and organic. One day he hit me and told me to send him some music. I was working on “Haters” and couldn’t think of a second verse, he hit me, I sent him the song and the next day he laid the verse.
The Knockturnal: How have you and your music evolved?
Hass Irv: Sonically I’ve learned a lot, mentally, spiritually, everything. I’m better at connecting with people and myself and being harder on myself. I feel like I’ve grown a lot and when I first started doing music it was just for fun, but now it’s my real life.
The Knockturnal: What do you want the fans to know?
Hass Irv: My project “Wait on it” will drop spring 2019. Not sure if it’ll be on the project but I’ll be dropping my first official single “Good Boy” in December as well. I’m excited to drop more of my own music.
Photography by Farah Idrees