I have been all over the United States man, but there is no place like Harlem, New York. It has been my home for nearly three decades. This is the most famous African-American neighborhood in America! It is New York City’s original black Mecca. Harlem is the home of the Harlem Renaissance, noted black leaders, ball players, and hustlers. Harlem is truly the land of the hustle! It is one of the most exciting attractions in all of Manhattan. Everybody comes here for entertainment, shopping, dancing, and cookouts. When you get to Harlem, you are going shopping because that gear you are wearing is not working. You will be an easy target for jokes walking around wearing those nineteenth century clothes.
I cannot believe you come outside with those oil stained clothes and crusty Ronald McDonald boots. I know your toes are taking a beating! Where you get that hat? That brown cowboy hat is wrong! Oh my God, you got on that golden sunburst belt. You are killing me now. I am going to transform you into a Harlem World player. Once your apparel is up to par, you will fit right in. You might even be lucky enough to date some women. Most women from this town love men with money, swagger and know how to dress and dance.
All right, your new outfit is on point. You are looking fresh in that oversize white T-shirt, blue Sean John shorts; New York Yankees fitted baseball cap and the fresh white-on-white Nike Air Force Ones sneakers. I like how you lace your sneakers with the black and white strings. That Unforgettable cologne has you smelling right! Okay, now you have better know how to profile like the celebrities you see on TV. When you walk, have a little bounce to go with it. Yeah, I am talking about that swagger! Now you are looking like a real Harlemite. Let us go outside and explore the wonderful world of Harlem. Listen to the soulful sounds of R&B and hip-hop music; and the delicious smell of soul food. You will definitely feel like you are part of the community once you start meeting and interacting with the people. Remind me to take you to the Rucker Park so you can watch some of Harlem’s youth showcase their talents on the basketball court. You will definitely enjoy the show!
Harlem is still dirty, but not as rundown. In the last decade, Harlem has change drastically. It is going through a gentrification period now. Ever since Bill Clinton rented an office space in Harlem, real estate in this town took off. You see condominiums just about on every block. Pathmark, I-Hop and commercial banks has replaced old buildings and vacant spots. There is now an Applebee’s and a mall on the East Side. Even the streets are in better conditions. If you were here many years ago, you would still remember seeing so many cracks on the sidewalk that you will hate going outside to do the laundry and food shopping. You were scare that you might miss a hole and flip over your cart.
What have not change are the hilly streets on the West Side. Instead of going to the gym, you can shed a few pounds walking up those hills every day. Much of the buildings here are brick-red, beige, and brown. You will still recognize buildings that have been here for decades. The housing projects are not going anywhere. You will still smell urine in the staircase, elevators and in the playground. You can always count on somebody blasting hip-hop music from his or her apartment to entertain everybody. Oh yeah, watch your step because there be dog excrement on the streets around here. You cannot get everybody away from that low-life mentality and way of life. Here in Harlem, you will quickly notice the style. You are going to dance, dress, act and talk like a Harlemite. The way of life in Harlem is so addictive.
There is nothing like being a Harlemite. It is the greatest feeling in the entire world! In my opinion, image is everything because that is what separates Harlemites from everyone else. The Harlemites I often meet are all about flashing, partying, making money and attitude. Their hustle mentality is the goal to move ahead and get rich. In their world, the smart thing to do when you get money is to leave the ghetto and take your family with you, but invest in the community. It is not about being afraid or feeling like you are better than everybody is; it is about making intelligent decisions.
Do not feel discourage or view Harlem as a dangerous place because of the images you see on TV or hear. You should live in Harlem if you want to experience the urban lifestyle. Once you do, you will soon believe that Harlem rules the world. What Harlem do New York does, what New York do America does, what America do the planet does. Therefore, Harlem rules the world!
In Harlem, you are in the middle of everything and the scene is one of the best in the city. You are living close to transportation, commercial banks, grocery stores, Starbucks, sporting good stores and countless fast food chains. Once you start networking with the right Harlemites, you are going to party at the famous Cotton Club and catch a few shows at the Apollo Theater.
The one thing you will see more of is block parties in the community. The annual block parties in the summer are always great. Residents from the housing projects come together to have a great time and take their minds away from the problems of everyday life. It never fails to see the community there to take part in all the activities and watch the young kids compete in the dance and rap contests. You can also count on somebody trying to feed you so; you do not need to run to McDonald’s. There are so many grills, and you can smell the ribs, hot dogs, fish, hamburgers, and chicken that it reminds you of being down south in North Carolina at a family reunion. Thick white-gray smudges heading towards you because of all the cooking that you will think a moving train is coming. You will be thrill once the nourishment is ready and the line is moving swiftly to get your plate. You are usually eating two plates full of food and do not have to worry about being hungry for the rest of the day. You personally are going to like the block parties because of all the hot girls wearing their short tops and tight pants to show off their figures because of the volcano-like weather. What a sight it is! You and your boys are going to wet them with water guns and the fire hydrant. You have better know how to run because some of the girls in the hood run track. You do not want any of them to embarrass you in front of everybody because of you wetting their hair.
Therefore, before you decide to come back to New York City and make Harlem your permanent resident, make sure you have the money to live in a nice brownstone, the skills, the look, and a plan to make it out here. Come back soon. Let’s go!