From its humble beginnings as a musical gathering among friends to its current status as a savvy clothing and event company, Harlem River Yacht Club has been on a journey of empowerment and self-discovery. In a world where African Americans have been historically marginalized and excluded, HRYC aims to provide a beacon of hope and a safe haven for those seeking to connect, grow, and recharge. The story of HRYC is intertwined with the story of its founder Ohene Cornelius, who saw an opportunity to reclaim the leisure and luxury that had been taken away from Black communities through centuries of redlining, voter suppression, and systemic racism. The company’s mantra, “Everybody can’t fit on the Yacht,” speaks to the idea that success and prosperity are possible, but it requires early boarding and a commitment to the journey.
The Harlem River Yacht Club brand stands for more than just fashion and events. It represents a movement of mental and emotional well-being, a commitment to creating spaces where Black people can thrive and be seen. Whether you’re setting sail on the virtual decks of their yacht-themed events or simply enjoying a relaxing moment in one of their signature garments, HRYC is here to provide a safe and supportive haven from the stormy seas of life.
The core aesthetics, of the Harlem River Yacht Club’s artistic endeavors and cultural principles, can be discovered and savored on the self-entitled, 10-track album. The gifted creative and lifestyle philosopher, Ohene Cornelius, is joined by a choice selection of artists and producers to create a set of stunning musical and lyrical gems that incorporate afrobeats, hip-hop, jazz, rap, rnb, soul and pop flavors ,which will leave your spirit energized, inspired and uplifted.
Ohene is a different breed of artist. He can spit bars as fiercely as anyone else in the game can, but is intent on instilling wisdom and easy-on-the-ear deliveries into the grand scheme of his music. Hence, the Harlem based creative stands out head and shoulders among his peers, and so do most of everyone else lending their creative or performances wares to the Harlem River Yacht Club album.
The recording opens with, ‘Naismith’ (ft. Phantm Phuego, Stanford Reid & Nia Weeks), which instantly expresses the idea of unity and togetherness, the importance of supporting and lifting each other up, and how we are all connected through our shared experiences of emotions. ‘Rent’ (ft. Thisminority & Ohene Cornelius) describes the struggles and hardships faced by individuals growing up in poverty and inner city neighborhoods. The overall theme is one of resilience and determination in the face of adversity.
‘Brup’ (ft. Ohene Cornelius & Mumzie Franklin) address issues such as the impact of crack cocaine on black communities, government surveillance, racial profiling and police brutality, the lack of resources, and the exploitation of black communities for profit. It advocates for resistance and empowerment. ‘Shake’ (ft. OHENE & Sunni Musique) is simply meant to make you shake your booty, and describes admiring a romantic partner’s physical appearance, and expressing excitement.
‘Free Together’ (ft. Aviva Jaye & Stanford Reid) unpacks a woman’s desire for a romantic relationship with a man who appreciates and respects her, creating a connection based on love, empathy, and mutual respect. ‘Valley of a Stranger’ (ft. Stanford Reid) describes a person feeling lost and out of place in a dangerous city, comparing their situation to being lost at sea and in the valley of a stranger. ‘Who’s Better’ (ft. Ohene Cornelius & Thisminority) is about the protagonist’s confidence in his own abilities and success. It expresses a desire to live forever and be remembered as better than others.
‘Breathe’ (ft. Ohene Cornelius, Rain Elektra & Mumzie Franklin) unfolds the struggles and experiences of being black, including the challenges of racism, gentrification, and division within the black community. The singer encourages listeners to breathe and find peace and freedom through self-awareness, love, and unity. ‘Brunch’ (ft. Ohene Cornelius & Mandella Eskia) highlights a lifestyle of waking up, enjoying brunch and drinks, getting drunk, getting dressed, seeking sexual encounters, pursuing money, and getting paid. The protaganist is living a luxurious lifestyle and wants more.
The album closer, ‘Well Connected’ (ft. Ohene Cornelius, James E! Walker & Phil Phlaymz) describe the experiences of musicians on the road as they travel and perform. They talk about their lifestyle, hustle, and determination to succeed, and how they are connected to each other and their fans. They describe their personal struggles and the challenges they face, but they remain optimistic and motivated to continue pursuing their dreams. Overall, the album Harlem River Yacht Club sends messages of unity and support, encouraging people to come together and bond over their shared humanity.
Many things standout on Harlem River Yacht Club, including the production duties done by Vybz Dealer, Majest Da God, Phil Phlaymz and Ohene Cornelius himself. Not to mention Ohene’s sublime and conscious top-tier songwriting, along with his meticulous performances. Moments of glorious listening pleasure is also derived from the transcendent vocal interpretations delivered by Rain Elektra on ‘Breathe’, and by Justo Ontario on ‘Valley of a Stranger’. However, there are so many high points across the album’s runtime, it’s impossible to mention them all. Harlem River Yacht Club automatically puts itself in the conversation, for album of the year status, regardless of genre or style.