Interview: Thirstin Howl III

Take me back to growing up early years in Brownsville,Brooklyn.

Thirstin Howl lll : “Well you know it’s crazy…I mean everyone who knows the history  of Brownsville knows what Brownsville’s like. Never ran,never will so… we grew up crazy you know through the violent times and all that but we definitely prospered through art, through Hip-Hop period so that brought everyone I was with together man just living in the craziest of times but enjoying it and having fun at the same time.”

What’s your earliest memories of Hip-Hop growing up? 

Thirstin Howl III: “Wow, I mean..one of my earliest memories is like seeing dudes wearing them British Walkers know what I mean? The mock necks and the Kangol hats and all that you know before I got involved in anything. Just seeing it happenin’ you know being alive and around me before I intertwined in it.”

Who were some of your influences growing up? 

Thirstin Howl III: “Within’ Hip-Hop?”

Right…

Thirstin Howl III: “Wow man, there was many. As far as artists like I say all the time, Jimmy Spicer was definitely one of my big influences. He taught me about being a character. Being creative with your music instead of being a thug and a gangster all the time. There was so much creativity coming out of Jimmy Spicer, Dana Dane, you know big inspirations to Thirstin Howl becoming a character within the music ya know? I definitely followed what they was doin’.”

You were a part of one of the most influential fashion crews Hip-Hop has ever seen. A lot of fashion comes and goes but it seems over the years Polo remains forever. You can go back and look at the old 80’s pics and they were flyer than ever…. 

Thirstin Howl III:”Everyone wants to relive those days of fashion. That’s why the vintage clothing is so expensive now you know because of the lane we created within Polo. We made those sweaters a $1000 or better ya know? Ralph Lauren definitely followed  what we did because he was reissuing his lines as he watched the market we created.”

Did Ralph Lauren ever reach out to you guys? 

Thirstin Howl III:”I mean he bought 5 of my books.(smiles) That was about it. He bought 5 of my books at my release and stuff like that. That’s most of the involvement he’s ever wanted with us…”

How does that make you feel? Did you want more (involvment) or did you accomplish what you wanted to accomplish as far as interaction with Ralph? 

Thirstin Howl III:” I mean I was never really looking for an interaction ya know? Everything we were doin we weren’t trying to achieve anything. We was just living our lives the way we seen fit and that’s all we was doin’. We didn’t expect any of this to happen the way it did, we was just living our lives, man. I’m still living my life in the same manner. Not really caring who’s admiring or who’s interested. This is just what I do and who I am. And that’s how it’s always going to be, that’s what makes me tic that’s what motivates me man. You know I’m inspired by life….”

Can you take me back to how the Lo-Life’s started? 

Thirstin Howl III: “Uhm.. this is one of them questions I answered 50,000 times….”(laughs)  

I know… (Laughs) 

Thirstin Howl III: ….”Two groups of kids coming from different sections of Brooklyn..common cause. Ya know? That’s the best way I can say it. Everybody was out to get fly, by any means necessary. And ya know, we just put it all together and built a legacy through that without even trying. That wasn’t our plan. Just living our lives which was life to us period”. 

Tell me how you picked up the mic? At what point because I’m sure Lo-Life’s were before you M.C.’ing or was M.C’ing always a part of Thirstin Howl? 

Thirstin Howl III: “I mean I always been a Hip-Hop fiend, right? So I’ve always studied every rapper who came out. I’ve always listened to music as a fiend, like a crack head for it. I never really knew of the skill I had, but when I was younger I would play with it here and there just freestylin’. Even times that were recorded and I look at some of these tapes when I was 16 years old and I’m like “Wow” I always had it I just wasn’t aware, ya know? But  I didn’t pick up the mic til’ like ’96. When I picked it up like seriously and started making it a part of my destiny.”

The Hip Hop Bible back in the day was “THE SOURCE” (magazine). In 1997 you got the Unsigned Hype, how did that make you feel ?

Thirstin Howl III:”I felt like the man. (smiles) It was crazy when the article came out…I was on Riker’s Island. (Laughs) So I had to battle everybody in the bathroom because they was like,”Ah, that’s the dude from the Unsigned Hype“. So I had to let it be known that it wasn’t a game.”

Did that lead to your record deal with “Landspeed”?

Thirstin Howl III:”Uh, no. Not at all.The Unsigned Hype  is what gave me  more recognition. Remember I was a brand new rapper at this time, so I barely had music. I think I gave the Unsigned Hype a demo of like 5 songs that I did on a four track. But all the other deals and stuff that came into play happened after I was releasing my music consistently. Ya know, by whatever means I knew how to do so that’s what actual got me recognized by labels and being approached by everybody.”

You not only do music, fashion..at one point in time you were behind the scenes on Mtv? 

Thirstin Howl III:” I worked at Mtv before all of this. I started workin’ at Mtv in ’94 and ’93. Started out as a Production Assistant. As everybody know I got the job through this work release facility. You know, people who stepped in and tried to change the direction of my life was going in. And I remained at Mtv the entire ’90’s and things like that. Gained massive knowledge, worked with a lot of people who ya know like I said, change the direction my life was heading in.”

You really haven’t taken a break since you started and came out. Through all of the changes that Hip Hop goes through and fashion, what keeps you consistent and loyal to yourself and never changing? 

Thirstin Howl III :”It’s what I feel naturally. You know a lot of people ask me what made me rap like I did when I became Thirstin Howl. It just came naturally, ya know? I didn’t try to be a character, I wasn’t out to have a certain style. Everything that happened is what came naturally as I evolved myself.”

From your debut album until now, how do you think you’ve changed and progressed? 

Thirstin Howl III:”I’ve calmed down a little bit. (smiles) You know what I mean?”

What was going on in the early years? 96′-97’…

Thirstin Howl III:”The 96′-97′ stuff I was still…ignorant and aggressive, in an ignorant way. You know throughout time I’ve definitely learned about the patience. I’ve learned how to tone it down and be a little more civilized ya know,to how I get down and approach people and do things like that. Ya know, plus I’ve been blessed to have achieved so much. A lot of that has humbled me. You know these blessings, I have to be grateful for the things that have happened. But musically, you know my music has progressed and elevated throughout time because I’m still learning as I’m going along and I’m still having that same aggressive approach when I’m attacking the music, ya know?”

Do you like this new digital age over how it use to be back in the day when it was more physical, hand to hand… 

Thirstin Howl III: ” I Love it all man, because you still got to do it yourself. Just because it’s digital know doesn’t mean that it magically pops up and it’s done for you. Mufucka’s still got to pour your heart into the lyrics, into the writing. I believe in evolving when things evolve. Not conforming to them, but evolve with evolution. You know I always say evolve or dissolve man, so I’m going to continuously evolve and go with the flow of things and do it in my way. From my perspective, how I see it appropriately.”

You’re born in Brooklyn. You have ties out here in Miami…. 

Thirstin Howl III:” I was born in Far Rockaway,Queens. That’s where I was born at. I was born at Penisula Hospital. My family was living in Far Rockaway at the time.”

What does Miami mean to you? You also live back and forth….

Thirstin Howl III :” Well, Miami means family to me as well. Because you know my grandparents, my father had like passed away in 73′ or 74′ so that made my grandparents leave New York City and come to Miami. So, they have been here since the passing of my father and established a whole new foundation and everything here in Miami. So I’ve been fortunate to come back and forth to Miami my whole life and then as an artist you know and not be a tourist or an artist from the outskirts. I’m well grounded and planted out here in Miami. My family is gigantic so ya know it’s love being here man, I love the sunshine, you know I love the water, the salt water. I love so many things this place represents right now.”

You are where you’re not only representing Polo, you also have you’re own clothing line. Can you speak on that?

Thirstin Howl III:” We have the Lo-Life brand now. It’s a collaboration with Willie Esco. We released the Lo-Life Stadium sneaker, the Lo-Life Coogi sweater, as well as the Stadium line from Lo-Life. And all of that is still available at Lo-Life.com ya know? If you wanna pick up some of those pieces. Next line is coming soon…the Union line.”

And like I said, you’re a man with many trades. You also write books. Can you speak on the books that you’ve wrote in the past and the ones you got coming out now?

Thirstin Howl III:”We been workin’ on the books for many years. Ya know, when we started getting approached by all these magazines like The Source & Stress Magazines and things like that when they were doing all these Lo-Life articles. All these articles were written by us ya know ? By each individual that had a story so what I did with all the Lo-Life’s was I told everybody once those articles started to happen I told everyone “write your books”.”Write your own book”. “Write your own story”. That way everything they approach us with, we giving them bits and pieces of the story that we have on a larger scale. I’ve never stopped writing ya know? Other Lo-Life’s never stopped writing. Most of the people that I told to write their books, they are books. I’ve been writing books for almost 20 years so that one book I released was just ONE book. And that was only a tiny fraction of the pictures I’m holdin’, ya know? So I still have more books right now just waiting to be published right now so there’s a lot.”

Maybe a movie in the works? 

Thirstin Howl III:” Movie. Definitely”

Who would play Thirstin Howl?

Thirstin Howl III:”Ya know I already picked somebody man. (Smiles) We were workin’ the deal earlier in the millennium and uhm I had picked Rick Gonzalez as that’s gonna play me in the Lo-Life movie.” 

That would be dope!

Thirstin Howl III :”He deserves the position, ya know he’s Puerto Rican Boniqua from Brooklyn. He definitely understands the Lo culture and all of that. And that’s my dude,”Rick holler at me,Rick!”

Let’s talk about the state of Hip-Hop right now. What is Thirstin listening to if anything and is it where Hip-Hop needs to be right now?

Thirstin Howl III:” I mean I can’t say where Hip-Hop needs to be ya know? Everything is about evolution. Things change man a lot of things change in ways we will never understand but change is inevitable. So, I’m not hating on nobody I don’t care what you’re doin’ whether I like it or not, I don’t care. I do what I do. I don’t listen to nobody. I listen to my peoples. Right now I’m listening to Spit Gemz, I’m listening to Meyhem Lauren. You know I’m listening to people from my camp. Other than that I’m listening to Shabaam Sahdeeq or if not  I’m listening to some fuckin’ Salsa music. You know I never got to absorb the Salsa growing up but being that I do so much bilingual or Spanglish hip-hop, I had to study and fuck with it. So Salsa music is something I really fuck with now and it helps take my mind away from the bullshit that’s going on like I don’t listen to the radio whatsoever. If I get in YOUR car you got to turn the fuckin’radio off. That shit just upsets me and aggravates me but I’m not one to hate on nobody and the current form of music. I don’t respect what the mumble shit is all about, I can’t respect that but… muthafucka’s been mumblin’ forever man. It’s just evolution of music ya know? Only people we got to be mad at is the radio programmers and things like that. Those are the ones that got to be shut the fuck down with this bullshit. Nobody else man, ya know? All these young artist doin’ they thing continue to do your thing man. If things helps you elevate in life, ya know I wish you all the best of luck man.”

We’ve come around full circle. I think your first album came out in 97′? 

Thirstin Howl III: 99′ 

….99′. Almost 20 years later, you’ll be releasing your upcoming album,”Skillmatic”. Can you speak on this album and what it means to you at this point in time?” 

Thirstin Howl III:”I’ve always had titles for my albums in advance, you know what I mean? “Skillmatic” is a title I’ve been sitting on forever because the Nas album,”Illmatic”. It was like a way to pay homage or whatever to Nas in a sense just by repeating the title. I was going to do it back in the days but then Nas came out with “Stillmatic”. So I had to hold off on the “Skillmatic”. And I just kept using other titles and then I was gonna release it a year ago then Illa Ghee came out with “Illamatic”. And to me that was a hard, hard title so it wasn’t the appropriate time for me to come put out my “Skillmatic”. You know I even redid the Nas album cover you know with myself. Little kid with an afro, my projects in the background ya know just showing what the “Skillmatic” was. But musically there’s nothing to compare me to Nas’ album on this album. The album is 100% Thirstin skills. I got features like Sticky Fingaz (Onyx) on this album,crazy. You know I got Prodigy (Mobb Deep) on the album. I got Shabaam, Spit Gemz, Meyhem. I got Ugg from the Cella Dwellas, Richie Ballens. You know, so it’s real serious hard body Hip-Hop that’s all man…and Master Fuol. You know how me & Master Fuol go back forth. Me and Master Fuol got a lot of joints on this album.”

What other upcoming projects do you have coming up besides the “Skillmatic” album?

Thirstin Howl III :”About to drop that “Chef Survival kit”. You know the return. No more jail recipes straight “Chef Survival Kit”. So you know, I switched it up…how the show goes down. A lot of new music videos you know the “Public Enemy” is probably going to be our first music video from the album. We shot several videos for “Skillmatic” already. Just multiple projects, been working on the Salsa breaks project out here with D.J. Exes, just rapping over Salsa breaks. Crazy. Got the new Spanish album “Don Chi Cha Con” ya know we got all types of stuff son. We consistently workin, and we got them books more books coming.”

And lucky for you fans he’s compiled everything on one USB…

Thirstin Howl III:” Yea, one USB. When you buy the new album the only way to but the new album is through the website and you purchase my entire catalog, comes on that album on a USB. So every album or mixtape I ever released is on this USB with the new album,”Skillmatic”. Thirstinhowlthe3rd.com 

Anything that you want to leave your fans, followers, or new fans you just made with some of your thoughts? 

Thirstin Howl III:”Keep Hip-Hop alive man. Just keep living it stop complaining about what everybody else is doing. Just live it, ya know what I mean? Stop supporting the bullshit if you ain’t feeling it. Support the real stuff, ya know share it. Hip-Hop has no age limit at this point. Ya know it’s not about who young and who’s old it’s about who’s skilled. To me skills is your promotion. You don’t need a marketing or promotion team when you’re skilled. In the underground that’s what I’ve always seen. As long as your skills don’t diminish neither do your fans man.”

Where can the fans find you social media wise. Website?

Thirstin Howl III:Website:Thirstenhowlthe3rd.com Facebook: Victor Thirstin Howl Dejesus Instagram: ThirstinHowlthe3rd Twitter:Thirstin Howl 3rd 

“So holler at me we selling everything, everything is for sale. Go to the site cop any album,promotional items, t-shirts ya know all of that…verses and music production, video production whatever you need us for just holla.”

Are you going on tour anytime soon? Where can they fans see you?

Thirstin Howl III:”Man, come to Grandmas House for Art Basel (Miami). You know we do Art Basel real big over here in Wynwood. December 1-3. So we doing a 3 day event, live performances, Salsa Bands, several artist come from to perform right here in Wynwwood. Right on 26th St. & 1st. Ave. NW.”

Thank you so much for meeting with me today…

Thirstin Howl III:”You already know…thanks for them taco’s (Coyo Taco in Wynwood)

It’s nothin’ man….

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