You may know Darren Harper as the dude that popped Stevie Williams in the mouth at Manny Mania 2009. The “Obama of Skateboarding” seeks to naturalize skateboarding in the hood and shake its strictly white boy image. We caught up with him about his falling out with DGK, growing up in the hood, being a real ass dude and his plans for the future.
So you refer to yourself as the “Obama of skateboarding”?
Yeah, my plans this year are to try and make that ofﬁcial. I really need to meet the president and let him give me the stamp, but either way, Iʼm still the Obama of skateboarding because what I plan to do and what I have done so far. I really have inspired kids and they look at me as the ﬁrst black skater to really do it at this level.
I heard you’re trying to get a reality show?
Yes sir. Iʼm working in that direction. Iʼm trying to get some type of media aired on TV about my life story.There are no [pro] black skaters that have been through what I have been through. Skating really saved my life. I couldʼve been in jail for life or murdered at this point without it. I know my story is crazy, I didn’t just grow up around the streets, I was involved in it, selling drugs and things like that.
Any good stories from the hood? Anytime you thought you were gonna die?
I mean, I never really felt like I was going to die. It is a reality though when you were born and raised in the hood of south east D.C.
One story, one of my best friends, we had a disagreement late one night. He came to me to borrow some bullets for his gun and I told him I didn’t have any because a couple days prior, he had shot a friend of mine in the hip. So I was just tryna stay away from him cause I didn’t know what was going on in his mind for him to shoot one of our own buddies. So I said no, but he knew I had some. He was like, “Oh, you’re not gonna give me some bullets?” and I was like, “I donʼt have anymore.” So then he gets frustrated and I act like Iʼm going to get the bullets, but instead I come back with my pistol on my hip, I had to be a little leery of what was going on, like whatʼs he tryna do?
I didn’t ﬂash him at ﬁrst, I just had my shirt over my hip. He was like, “You went upstairs so whatʼd you go get?” and he just starts to speak loudly. So I lift my shirt up to show him I had my pistol and was like, “You aight?” Then he just exploded and says, “OH. You went and got your gun on me?” He runs to his car and gets his pistol and he turns around and starts running towards me.
Before he got back to me Iʼm telling him like, “Listen you better slow down, donʼt run up on me like that!” trying to tell him before something happens, I gotta protect myself. Basically me just being smart, you know, I didn’t shoot. But when he ran like a couple of feet away from me, I ran in the building and slammed the door and he starts shooting through the door!
And this is your boy right?
Yeah this my boy. What happened was he started abusing this drug we call PCP and he used to be like high every night off that.
That shit makes your crazy.
Yeah Iʼve seen people run butt naked in the streets and things like that so…your mind is gone, ya know? I didn’t know what was going on and Iʼm just trying to protect myself. So I run in the building and he shoots through the door.
I thought he said he needed bullets?
He had a revolver, so he only had three shots and he had shot those off. I ran back downstairs and started ﬁring down on him! He jumps in the car and as heʼs pulling off you can see my bullets ricocheting off the back, near his bumper and tail. I knew what I was doing kinda so I wasn’t aiming up towards the window or nothing. I was just tryna scare him and be like, I am prepared. Let him know I will if I have to.
So you guys made amends?
Naaah. He comes back the next day, I had seen his car parked outside my building, but I really made nothing of it. I decided to go in cautiously and asked my friend, “Yo is Chris around here?” and he was like, “OH, Chris around here.” Then he comes outta nowhere, like Tupac in Juice, he just POPS up sayin, “YO, whats up now? You shot at me and my girl yesterday!” and Iʼm like, “Wait a minute, you shot at me ﬁrst!” It was a debate at that point, but he had a pistol in his hand, so Iʼm really just trying to cop a plea. The next thing you know heʼs got the gun pointed at me saying, “Give me everything you have, like all your money.”
Did you give him your money?
Believe it or not I did not give him my money. But I had drugs on me, so I dropped it on the ﬂoor and was like, “You can have dat.” He walks across the street towards his car and heʼs telling me, “You got ﬁve minutes to get up to the door or Iʼma start shooting.” He started shooting and then my sonʼs mom, who was actually in the house, heard the shots. When she heard them she jumped to the window and sees what’s going on and starts shooting at him! She was able to get him off my behind with that and he jumped in his car and took off. It was like a movie. It was crazy. He is locked up for life now.
So I hear you were kicking it with Paris Hilton at a strip club?
Yeah, it was through the boss, Travis Barker, who owns the clothing line I ride for. One of the highlights was that, we all just mobbed up after a club, hopped two limousines with like 30 or 40 people and went to a strip club in Vegas. I just remember her being right there. She was just chillin.
No lap dance for her?
Nah. I do remember something funny for me, though. The strippers were dropping money on the ﬂoor and I was putting the money in my pocket.. you know what Iʼm saying? Like, “Oh, okay thereʼs dollar. Iʼma get that.” Every time we found money we were just stuffing our pockets, me and a buddy of mine. It’s been a blessing to be on that ride with him and see some of things I would never imagined seeing or even being around the types of people Iʼve been around.
Did you hit on her?
Nah, I mean Iʼm a quiet type, I donʼt really get star struck but I do think like, how they got to that point. Like wow, this person is worth all that money! When you donʼt come from anything itʼs kinda like that’s one of the people that interests you. Like wow man, she SMELL like money! It’s just motivation for me to see people get it, and I know one day Iʼm going to end up like that. One of my goals is getting it and being able to provide and help others out. That’s what Iʼm about.
So what happened at Manny Mania?
We had a clash, for the record a lot of people think Stevie kicked me off [DGK], he didn’t kick me off. We were already too cool for that, we had history. He gave me an ultimatum basically like, “Hey you need to either choose this or choose that.” It was over a shoe deal I had, and I will NOT say their name cause I canʼt stand them. But..
Itʼs Yums right?
I canʼt…Iʼm not even agreeing with you. I canʼt stand them cats. Stevie called up and was like, “Yo that shit is wack”, which I know. I knew that but I had to do it on my own because the thing is people told me Travisʼ Famous Stars and Straps was wack. Me being who I am, I was like there are no limits with Darren Harper! I can take the worst situation and make it into the best situation. At the end of the day, I wasn’t going to let anybody close me out like that, when this thing is more about feeding my family. Basically he calls and heʼs like, “You know you need to make a choice,” and Iʼm like damn, just like that? He didn’t give me no other option like, “Hey I got something else for you.” He just called me ﬂat out like, “Yeah. You need to make a choice,” and I didn’t like that. He basically said some things on the phone that didn’t sit well with me either, being a dude from the streets.
One of the things he said was like, “Who are you? You ain’t got no career, like nigga, I got a career already,” and Iʼm like, “Woah, hold up brother, you gotta understand you talking to me!” Then some of the things we went through when we were on the team kinda set in. For example, I was down in Atlanta one time and we got in a ﬁst ﬁght. Me and a friend of mine from D.C., we brawled with like twenty dudes in a party! Darn near the whole DGK team just stood there! I stand for loyalty, if Iʼm riding with you, we gonna rock out!
Exactly and he stands there with that big ole chain, DGK, supposed to be “Dirty Ghetto Kids” and all this ole “keeping it gangsta and all that” but you got your boy on your team ﬁghting and they didn’t do nothing, they just stood there. They watched. I saw the punches get thrown and I had a chain on that was worth six or seven grand too, I took it off, put it around Lennyʼs neck and I went in to help my partner. And thatʼs what it was, and they just stood there.
”Me being who I am, I was like there are no limits with Darren Harper!”
I kinda lost respect for them a little then, but I still kept it business. You come out better when you stick together, I could have had twenty people stomping on my head, but Iʼm strong ya know and I know how to ﬁght, that’s what I do. It’s in the past, we just had our differences and when he said something crazy on the phone, I was just like, “Okay, well Iʼma see you when I see you.” The punch or whatever, I still call it like a “pimp slap”, cause I didn’t put no weight into it. I just felt like I had to let him know, “Yo you need to calm down with the mouth bro.”
And he just has this look on his face like, “Yeah, whatever, whatever.” But It makes more sense now.
Yeah, people kind of judged it at ﬁrst but it’s like, I went up to him and tapped him on the shoulder professionally. I said, “Yo, what’s up? Lets holla, lets rap.” He had a friend there and it just spiraled out of control a little bit. Then the crowd came around and made it bigger then what it was too. There was all these people around and that gives me more energy. Iʼm like alright, you all aren’t about to overpower me. I donʼt give a shit how many people you with, if Iʼm going in, Iʼm going in. Then I see his partner getting all excited, so I had to let my peace be known. I donʼt take none of his credit, heʼs a legend, he’s a power house. But we also came up near the same time and Iʼve been knowing him, people donʼt understand that. You know, sometimes people see stuff and it isn’t what they think it is.
So you’re more gangster than Stevie?
Oh man, of course man. We ain’t going to say gangsta, just going to say Iʼm a stand up cat.
Plans for the next year?
Keep skating and hopefully hit the big screen with my life story. Become that household name. Change the misconception of Darren Harper. Sometimes before you judge things you got to see whats going on. Iʼm all about the youth and working with the kids. I donʼt want to be just a skateboarder, Iʼm striving to be a household name and get to the Tony Hawk kind of level.