Get Familiar: Harry Femer

Get Familiar: Harry Femer

Get Familiar: Harry Femer
Today we would likey you to get familair with a rising star in the hip-hop scene, Harry Femer! Hailing from the vibrant streets of Kruiskade in Rotterdam, Harry's journey into the world of music began at a young age, deeply influenced by legendary artists like Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G., and 50 Cent, thanks to his brothers and sisters.

Harry's true inspiration sparked in 2006 when he witnessed Dutch hip-hop pioneers such as U-niq, Feis, and Winne making waves in the industry. Growing up in an area that quickly became a national hotspot for hip-hop, Harry's passion for the genre was inevitable. Football was his first love as a child, and it was through playing in the streets that he crossed paths with Winne, leading to his appearance in one of Rotterdam's most iconic music videos.

Harry honed his craft by immersing himself in music through YouTube, absorbing every beat, rhyme, and story. After several years of honing his skills and building his name, 2023 marks a significant milestone in his career. This year, Harry and Winne, two stalwarts from Rotterdam, decided to make their long-anticipated collaboration official, signing with the renowned Couture 33 label.

Today, we celebrate the release of Harry's brand new record, "BIG CITY LIFE," featuring incredible productions from 23Beats, Lamsi, Mowgle, and Danielo. Join us as we dive deep into Harry's journey, his inspirations, and what lies ahead in his promising career. 

How did growing up in Kruiskade influence your early love for hip-hop and music in general?

My father, Jah Red, is a reggae artist, so from a young age, I was heavily influenced by reggae and the Rastafarian culture and lifestyle. Growing up with reggae music, artists like Michael Prophet, Dennis Brown, and Gregory Isaacs would often stay at our home when they had shows in Rotterdam. My dad knew these artists because he lived in London for several years in the 80s.

Can you talk about how your brothers and sisters influenced your musical taste with artists like Tupac, The Notorious BIG, and 50 Cent?

As a child, I heard my brother playing a lot of Tupac, and he even had a wallpaper in our room of the "All Eyez On Me" album cover, with Pac doing the West Coast sign. So I basically woke up with Pac on the wall. My sisters were really into Shyne and 50 Cent, and they played "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" daily. I remember when I was 4 or 5, we saw the "California Love" music video for the first time on our little TV in the kitchen.

What impact did seeing artists like U-niq, Feis, and Winne break into the Dutch music industry have on your aspirations as a rapper?

It was the first time that I heard a Dutch rapper representing my city on U-Niq's "Rotterdam." This made me proud to come from Rotterdam. When I heard Winne representing my neighborhood, Kruiskade, on his "Pomp Die Shit," I was mind-blown. It became cool to say you come from Kruiskade, much like how Compton is represented in hip-hop.

How did your initial meeting with Winne come about, and how did it shape your musical journey?

I met Winne for the first time in 2018 after he reached out to me. That was the first time we sat down together and got to know each other. But we already knew each other from the neighborhood. He knows my brothers and sisters, and even my parents, and my family knows his. 

The meeting with him really shaped my journey, especially because he gave me a lot of guidance. For example, he taught me how to brand myself as an artist and how to tell my narrative to the audience instead of just releasing music randomly.

How did playing football in the streets lead to your involvement in one of Rotterdam's legendary music videos, and how did that experience impact you?

It was summer holidays in ’06, I think. My friends and I were playing football in Kruiskade when a friend ran up to us and said, "Yo, there’s a video shoot with a lot of rappers around the corner." So we went to the location a few streets away and heard they needed some young boys for the video. That was when I saw artists like Feis, U-Niq, and Winne. They were shooting the video for “Klein Klein Jongetje.” They then made a second video in the city of Rotterdam with maybe 50 people in the crowd. I was also seen in the video next to Winne with my fist in the air when he says, "I’m not from New York, but I represent my city like the Statue of Liberty." That was the legendary video for the song “Rotterdam Remix.”

How did watching music-related content on YouTube contribute to your growth and understanding of hip-hop?

I watch everything on YouTube, from football to music. I watched interviews of Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z the most, just to study the game. I also love watching music videos since way back. They always inspire me for my own music videos. Most of my early music was produced by producers I found on YouTube. So, YouTube has been a very important resource.

After several years since meeting Winne, what made this year the right time to officially join forces with him and Couture 33?

Since the meeting, he always wanted to stay involved with my music and branding as an artist. So since ‘19, we worked together behind the scenes for my music. After years, we made a selection of songs and created an EP. I think we always knew we were going to release my new music together on Couture 33, but it was when the tape was ready that we made it official.

How has signing with Couture 33 impacted your music and career trajectory?

It made me feel certified, you know? Winne is a respected artist personally and professionally. He has a lot of respect from big artists, and everyone knows he stands for quality. So the fact that he is sharing his stage with me makes me feel honored.

What inspired your latest record "BIG CITY LIFE," and what message do you want to convey through it?

"Big City Life" is about my experiences living in different cities. I moved in ‘16 from my hometown Rotterdam to Amsterdam for a new chapter in life, to meet new people, and to build a network. Not everyone has the courage to move out of their comfort zone. I also want to share my inspiration from visiting places like New York, Suriname, Thailand, Paris, and London. My message is to show the audience what is possible in life and that they don't have to be afraid of moving out of their environment.

Can you discuss the collaborations with producers Lamsi, Mowgle, and Danielo on this album and how they contributed to its overall sound?

Lamsi sent me the "Big City Life" beat when I was in New York. I remember choosing that beat directly out of four others. Back in Rotterdam, I created the hook for "Big City Life" while showering. It had to be after the NYC trip because that's when I had all the experiences—the fast life, big buildings, big dreams. After that, Lamsi and I made a lot of songs together. He always wants to make new sounds and elevate my skills. That's why I work with him a lot. 

Mowgle sent me the beat for "Next Move" when I was walking in Schiedam, and I felt a G-Unit vibe on it. I knew it had to be a rap song with jiggy vibes. 

Mito of 23Beats is also my guy. We had a session at his studio, and he made a beat from scratch. I had a little concept and melody immediately and started writing a hook. My homie Tim, also an artist, suggested I rap about a girl this time, just like in ‘16. I agreed, took the beat home, and within a week, I wrote the song. That was "Drop Top." 

Danielo sent me a beat in 2020. I really liked it but didn’t know what to do with it. Fast forward to ‘24, I was on my first solo trip to Malaga, and suddenly the lyrics and bars came to me. This made me realize that Danielo can make beats that I still like after four years.

Are there any tracks on "BIG CITY LIFE" that hold a particularly special meaning to you? If so, why?

Yes, "BOMBS" featuring Jah Red. That's a song with my father. He is the reason I’m an artist—an inspiration, mentor, and artist. I created this with Lamsi and had this reggae melody on it. Lamsi and I were thinking about writing about my roots, DNA, and where it all started. After we finished the hook, we decided to do the record with my father. Making a record with him now is a full-circle moment.

How do you feel your music has evolved since you first started rapping, and what experiences have been pivotal in that growth?

My music has really evolved and changed through a lot of practicing and continuous writing. I've put in 10,000 hours in the studio and with the pen. Life experiences have also changed my writing a lot. Listening to artists like Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Travis Scott made me study the game. Additionally, listening to different genres like reggae, jazz, and R&B has influenced my music.

In what ways has Rotterdam, and specifically Kruiskade, continued to influence your music and artistic vision?

The way artists like Winne, Kevin, Feis, and U-Niq put Rotterdam on the map—I want to do that too. I always want to inspire the youth to be proud of where they come from. I know the struggles they've been through, the distractions and desires to do crime, and the appeal of making easy money without working for a boss. I want to make that change with my story. I'm still studying, and I started from the bottom when it comes to school and other aspects. So you will always hear that in my lyrics. Kruiskade will always be something I'm proud of and will keep representing in my music or any other artistic work. Kruiskade has a lot of talent, multiculturalism, and creativity.

What can fans expect from you next? Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations in the works?

I'm busy with a lot of new music already. "Big City Life" is just the start, like I say in the song. So fans can expect new music soon. I don't know about any collaborations yet.

Where do you see yourself and your music career in the next five to ten years?

In the next five to ten years, I want to have one or two #1 albums. I want to be an example for the next generations. I see myself also teaching about mindset and discipline. I really want to give back and inspire and motivate others, just as I have been inspired by Kendrick or Jay-Z. Besides music, in the next ten years, I would love to see myself as a father and having a healthy family.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your music career, and how did you overcome them?

Money. I always had to invest in my own music, often working hard and investing more than 50% of my income into it. It’s a struggle because you don’t see any immediate financial return. Luckily, it’s my passion, so I don’t feel the pain, and I still believe that one day it will all pay off.

Continuing to push forward is also a big challenge. As an artist, you put a lot of time, energy, and money into your music, making many sacrifices. But sometimes, you don’t feel like doing it. Especially when you don’t see the numbers you were hoping for, you can get demotivated, or when a song doesn’t reach a playlist or get radio play. These are struggles you have to face and learn from. I overcome these challenges because I’ve seen and learned that with every setback comes a big lesson and a better opportunity.

What advice would you give to young, aspiring rappers in the Netherlands or anywhere else who look up to you?

Study the game. Connect with a lot of creatives. Work hard and create what you like. And the most important thing is, don’t give up on yourself. Keep believing, and don’t be afraid to dream big. You will manifest it one day; it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

How do you stay grounded and true to yourself amidst the growing success and recognition?

I think the people around me will always help me stay grounded. I have people around me who coach me every day, and I coach them too. With my life experiences through the years, I’ve gotten to know myself better and better. So, I know what I like and what makes me happy or sad, and that’s how I stay true to myself.

Can you describe your creative process when writing and recording new music?

Mostly, I’m in the studio with a producer, and they play several beats. I always know in the first 10 seconds if I like a beat. After that, I start freestyling some melodies on the beat and then start jamming and writing. The writing process is usually done alone in my zone, but sometimes I also write with Lamsi or Tim. I love creating together because it gives a different perspective.

Who are some of the artists that inspire you today, both within and outside of hip-hop?

Within hip-hop, I get a lot of inspiration from Kendrick Lamar because of his music and personality, and Jay-Z because of his journey and business mind. I also get inspired by Nipsey and his story a lot. I often watch his interviews. Outside of hip-hop, I think Bob Marley and his story inspire me a lot.

What message do you want to send to your fans who have supported you from Kruiskade to now?

I want to thank them for their support. Keep going and get the maximum out of yourselves.

You can stream Harry Femer's new record here