thirstin howl

Thirstin Howl III became the new face of Polo’s Snow Beach. Now he breaks down to us how everything came to be.

This is D3 The Concrete, bringing you fashion from the street.

Here’s the short version of the story of how this interview came together:

My homie, Nasty Nique, the other half of Dirty & Nasty, challenged me to write about the SNOW BEACH re-release. I said the ONLY way that I would write about this is if I could get an interview with Thirstin Howl III. The NEXT DAY, I reached out to the Twitterverse and asked how to get an interview with Thirstin and, within the hour, the connection happened.

Hours later, I made a phone call that changed my whole streetwear life. A phone call with the man, the myth, the legend: Thirstin Howl The III.

D3 The Concrete: Yo, so, thank you for taking my call man. I truly appreciate it.

Thirstin Howl III:  Ain’t nothin’. It’s all good.

D3 The Concrete: Word up. So yo, check this out, man. I got like 10 questions. I’m not going to hold you up. Um, I know you’re very busy man. So again, I just want to thank you for your time.

Thirstin Howl III: Yeah. It’s all good.

D3 The Concrete: So, first question, we’re just going to get right into it. Um, if you don’t mind just telling us who you are and where you’re from.

Thirstin Howl III: I’m Thirstin Howl III, The Polorican, Skillionaire, from Brownsville Brooklyn. MGV [Marcus Garvey Village], nah mean? Representing Hip-Hop hardbody, for a long time. Representin’ Lo-Life Culture for a very long time, you know?

D3 The Concrete: Word up! If you wouldn’t mind, just giving us a little bit about you. Tell us a little bit about how you grew up in New York, what was life like leading up to the start of y’all’s crew?

Thirstin Howl III: Well, you know me, growin’ up in New York, I move around a bunch. I go a chance to live in different boroughs and areas as a kid. So, I got a chance to experience a lot of the, you know, sound of New York: The culture, the style, the whole feel of just living all over New York. By a certain age, around 12, 13, I moved to Brownsville. And, you know, just living in an all-Black neighborhood, as a Puerto Rican kid, it was kinda crazy. I went to junior high school through ’75, right around there. Went to East New York High School from there; you know, I’m a kid who rarely went to school every day. I ain’t have too much discipline within my household. So, I could basically do what I want. You know all at the same time, I was a graffiti artist, hittin’ the trains up and all that, as well as breakdancin’. So these were like my first loves in Hip-Hop: graffiti and break-dancin’. Somethin’ I was a real fiend for. I didn’t just do it, I did it every day, all day. Breakdancin’ got played out at some point, you know, the styles, the way they evolving in New York City, the sound of the music, everything. And you know I was there for all of that to be a part of it, and that’s how Lo-Lifes were born. Things like that, you know? Just being in Brownsville, being with a bunch of other fly dudes, tryna get it, you know, and hold it down in the hood.

D3 The Concrete: Word up, word up! So, you know, one of the interesting things that I learned, when I was doing my research to interview you, is that you guys came out in the late 80’s and then, ’92 was the year the SNOW BEACH dropped, that was like, the iconic. So, were you guys already on to Polo before the SNOW BEACH happened or were y’all like —

Thirstin Howl III: Yeah, we were onto Polo for years before the year that came out. Lo Lifes was formed in 1988, but our history is years before 1988. That’s just when we became the Lo Lifes. Niggas were wearing Polo a long time before that, you know.

D3 The Concrete: That’s really interesting, because, you know, most of the time, the conception is, or the perception is, hip hop, New York, you mostly think about adidas, Kangol, you know. You think about the leather jackets like I would say, probably like, more early-mid 80s and then the late 80s is Jordan, and coming into the league —

Thirstin Howl III: Yeah, like ’85, ’86, ’87 yeah. It was an evolution because all of those brands [you named] were dominators for a while. Kangol was like the biggest shit. That was the biggest hat you could wear in New York City, besides the muthafuckin’ Daniel Boone hat with the raccoon tail, some shit like that. But that’s the shit that was really poppin’, you know: Adidas suit & shell-toe Adidas. Shell-toe Adidas had to be the biggest sneaker in New York City for a very long time. Just dominating everywhere, along with Lee jeans and the Lee brand, that was also something that dominated New York everywhere you looked, you saw a different color Lee jean, and a matching Lee jacket with a pair of shell-toe Adidas and a Kangol. But the styles did evolve, man. Once the Coca-Cola [branded clothing] and the Benetton [United Colors of Benetton] and all that started to play, that’s when Hilfiger, Polo, all of them started to come in the picture and that’s like, you know, late ’85 and ’86, shit like that had really started taking place. So I said, you know, I was, me personally, I was touchin’ all of those brands, you know, from the Puma, Adidas, Kangol, I was a Kangol fiend, you know. All the way through the transition of the Guess, and Benetton, and Coca-Cola, I touched everything!

D3 The Concrete: Wow. So, so, so tell me this, how did it feel to see the Wu-Tang video? Can it be also simple and you know what I’m saying? The Wu-Tang representing for New York heavy and then for Raekwon to be in that jacket, on the video with the, you know, what I’m saying with the homies posted up on the block, like how did, how did that feel us as somebody that was already participating in the culture?

Thirstin Howl III: That was hot. It felt good to see it goin’ on.

D3 The Concrete:  What do you think that it was, about that particular piece, as opposed to, ’cause you know, when I was doing my research, and I was looking through some of the Youtube videos, it was some other pieces that you had and some of the other cats in the crew had that was way more flamboyant and outstanding, but what do you think it was about that particular piece that made it like THAT was it?

Thirstin Howl III: To be honest, the SNOW BEACH was a never real sought after piece, when it dropped. Later in time, it became what it is. But, its initial entry into the game and all that being, you know, Rae helped popularize it and make it fly on TV. But it wasn’t a sought-after piece amongst a lot of us. It was just there. It’s like in the new millennium, in the late nineties when people really started becoming collectors and stuff, it became just a rare piece that was hard to get. I would even say that the SNOW BEACH has to be the highest priced vintage piece sold out there, going for 5 or 6 stacks.

thirstin howl III

D3 The Concrete: And what’s funny about that is, you know, there used to be a cat here in Houston that owned a vintage shop [Imperial X Empire] for a while; he had that. He had it hanging in his shop for about five or six stacks and he sold it. I remember going in there one day and I was like, Yo! It was so funny. Man, because you know, I knew the rarity of the piece and I didn’t even ask, because, you know, I grew up like, hey, if you got to ask the price, you probably can’t afford it anyway. But I looked up one day when I walked in the shop and it wasn’t there no more. So I was like, OK, well buddy must have sold it and when I went to his website, it says sold out. So, you know. But uh, but yeah man, so let me, let me ask you about this: not only are you a collector of Polo, Ralph Lauren pieces, you’re also an MC, you know, I know we discussed, you know, your involvement in the hip hop culture and how you came up and how you began to evolve. Would you mind sharing with us a little bit about that? How you, you know, how your evolution as an MC began and, you know, tell us about the Skillionaires, and tell us about how that all comes together and plays into the, into the Lo Life culture?

Thirstin Howl III:  You know I always been a hip-hop fiend, like I was telling you. So, you know with breakdancing and graffiti and all that, always listening to the music hardbody, you know, as a fiend, as a collector, even with the music, studying, and everybody is just a super fan of music, and culture. So, I never really knew what I possessed, you know, me being such a fan and a fiend, I’ve got to really study everybody without knowing how much I was studying, soaking up all this hip-hop skill, you know, all my life. One day I just got in a cipher and [I started] buggin’ out freestylin’ and I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t stop rhymin’ and kept going. All the words were connecting automatically. In fact, I wasn’t even trying hard, and this is something that I never knew. I just bumped into it and discovered that I had a gift for freestylin’. And from that day on, I put a hundred and 50 percent into the shit. From that day when I saw that I could rap. Hip Hop was always the shit I loved the most, especially the music. I was a fiend for the music. I just didn’t know I could do it. Once I figured that out it was over.

D3 The Concrete: So, transitioning from that and then starting your label: How did you get, selected or chosen into working with the Lyricist Lounge Show? Growin’ up here in Houston, you probably already know man, you know, it’s a different kind of flow down here in the south is a little bit more slow and drawn out. But like watching Lyricist Lounge as a kid, being a child of hip hop myself, I was so fascinated by that, by that show and just seeing the whole spectrum of rap, you know, what I’m saying? Represented on that show poets and you know, real, you know, spiritual, lyrical rappers and you know, catchy rappers, you know. Would you mind telling us how you became involved with that show and what your involvement entailed?

Thirstin Howl III: I was one of the original people who helped develop the idea. Know when Lyricist Lounge was recording their album with Rawkus? They would follow us around with cameras and stuff and you know, we would rap and act it for ‘em, you know. We were doing that, playing, just me myself, Wordsworth, Master Fuol and you know, they would record us bugging out. And then they came up with the idea to make the sketch comedy show like that. I became a cast member and a writer on the show Definitely was some groundbreaking shit, man, that could’ve went really far. It was super incredible. Especially the talent that was on there.

Editor’s Note: This interview was edited into two parts. For part two of our conversation with Thirstin Howl III, come back Monday.