Original ole fonts from the last colony, Borinquen. Select letters emphasize themselves like a yelling fatality’s last hopes, all in the laughter of a Palmieri montuno, eddying in the key of Polo. Exotic contradictions of a peoples’ past of Moorish made Spaniard conquering, peaceful Arawak Tainos violently revolting and African slaves politely politicking manumission. Free dreams, Associated with crimes, State of submission. So pa fuera en el guagua del aire pa Nueva York. Borinquen’s collateral capital, a conglomerate mix of cultured yet deprived Puerto Ricans make root in Medina, that is, Brooklyn, New York. Porto Rico Commonwealth rejected for fist fights, break battles, graf ganging and mic matches towards a Boricua’s uncommon health.
My original ole fonts text vex from Medina’s lost lung, Gunset Park, where I chose to ignite weapons in the liquidity of written revolt. But over right by the heart of Medina, Brownsville’s Thirstin Howl the 3rd precedes my pages by books, an elder pioneer of the oldest fonts, originally styling an entire history of Hip Hop. From his lowest points of crime and violence births the Hip Hop countercultural pioneering where poverty stricken oppressed refused the slum shook looks and turned the prim Americana elegance of the Ralph Lauren Polo pony to a warrior’s horse emblem of redemption. The Lo Lifes crew General leading million man rush rebellion that once stole and wore but now instills their love and loyalty ethic to save a culture fashioning itself into pop hell. To then become one of the music’s most unique MCs ever, a Mic Ceremony every verse, his fluctuations and emphasis are extremes other greats never think of attempting. His Spanglish charisma, comedic satire and chronicled grit make him as iconic to the Nuyorican experience today as Hector Lavoe was during the first NYC urban genre’s peak, Salsa.
As a Boricua de Ponce y Patillas, a poverty stricken Brown youth, a 5 Percenter, the G.O.D. out of Brooklyn, it is an honor to the utmost, to chisel my best ole time fonts in salute and travel you all through my build with Thirstin Howl the 3rd…
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: I started Hip Hop with the graffiti and fashion first then I became a b-boy. Breakdancing really possessed me more than the other elements. I was really captured by it. When I started breakdancing I threw all my graffiti stuff in a box. I was fully into it like a fiend. I would practice every single day at a very early age. I was disciplined. I mastered all my moves to perfection.
SUNEZ: Many are inspired by the core B-Boy Classic songs like Jimmy Castor’s “It’s Just Begun” or Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache.” Did that inspire you?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: It was just seeing it happen. I saw people breakdance one time and it made me practice. Ever since then I was a fiend, a real fiend. To me I looked at my MCing like I’m reliving my breakdancing life. Breakdancing went out of style back in the days around 1986. That shit was played out. You was a clown if you was breakdancing at least in New York City. At that time I knew nothing else but breakdancing. I couldn’t believe when it got played out. It really got played out.
SUNEZ: What happens after this? Is MCing the next move?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: No. That’s when crime came into play. That’s when we wasn’t breakdancing. That, for myself, was when I started to get involved in all the crazy shit. I was out on the street. When we were breakdancing out in the Garvey in front of my project [Marcus Garvey Village], we would practice every single day in front of my house. We had a giant linoleum. My sister pulled an extension cord out of the window. Everybody would watch us out there breakdancing. Breakdancing was everything to me.
SUNEZ: How did you get into graffiti?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: Just by seeing other writers. I used to live in Far Rockaway, Queens and there was a lot of graffiti writers out there. I went to school with a lot of people. Seeing the graf everywhere and hanging with the writers. By the time I was living in Brownsville. You know Bonz Malone. He put me down with his graffiti crew in Far Rockaway in 1981. Then when I was in Brownsville I was bombing the trains and do my Lee jackets. I used to change my Lee jacket every week. I got all of these pics from prison and later MCing but I don’t have any pics of me b-boying.
SUNEZ: I seen old footage of you at some turntables and you was MCing a little.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: You know what’s funny is that back in the days I never rapped. That day in that footage I went just to hang out with my boy that was the DJ, Sha Rock. We went to hang out in the studio while he DJed. He was just like, ‘blaze the mic?!’ I was never a rapper. So I got on that mic that day. I freestyled all day. I still got that tape. It’s like an hour and a half long. When I left the studio that night, I never rhymed after that day. I didn’t start rapping until I was 26 years old.
SUNEZ: When you finally MC, it’s totally different, unorthodox. How is that? How did you come with that unique style?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: Because that’s what you’re supposed to do. As a Hip Hop fiend I understood the rules of Hip Hop. One of the major rules from the beginning—I got to see the whole thing happen—was don’t bite. You couldn’t be a biter. You had to have your own everything. I knew that coming into rap. I’ll tell you what else is crazy. When I started rapping I came out as this personality more than I was being myself in voice. I became a character. All of that shit happened naturally. I wasn’t trying to be a character. This was how it was coming out of me. I was just being myself. All my raps were comedy raps and shit. This was how it was flowing naturally. All my people in my family and my hood never saw me like that. Everybody couldn’t adapt to my music because it was so different than who I was. It was similar in that I could snap and all that but I was always a real serious person. To be a character that was real prestigious and use proper English and all that. But for me, you had to be original in everything you do. I had to come to the table with something new for the game.
Let me extend on that too. There was one of these rappers that used a character voice. He told me one time that he created that style. And I’m looking at this motherfucker like, “I’m older than you, nigga!” I got this style from Super Rhymes, Jimmy Spicer, Rappin’ Duke and shit like that. I’m not saying I was following what they were doing but I was naturally overwhelmed by what they were doing. It’s like the Holy Ghost the way I became the character. The energy that came out of me as I rapped.
Quenepas y mangos. The fruit of one’s labor that fills the great error of Hip Hop music, the missing omission of the Boricua experience. A business decision, fortified by the most distant, uninvolved scholars to leave Hip Hop Co-creators out. For a simplicity the white populace can purchase and el orgullo that we earned is hard to come by the time 80’s have platinum rappers. Pride vomited, Skillionaire is as important record as MF Doom’s Doomsday or Lootpacks’ Soundpieces: Da Antitode! that year. It not only launches Thirstin Howl the 3rd as exceptionally as Doom’s lyric books and Madlib’s beat barrage, it gives the detail to the Puerto Rock experience Big Pun’s Capital Punishment started.
An MC with so many comedic punchlines you smile through the socio-economic repercussions and the immediate suffering he visualizes so well. Just as “Still Live With My Moms” identifies los vagos, “Bad Things” reveals the contrast of emotive chronicling Thirst will display. The flows are filled with abnormally intense start and stop vocal dives, his tempos go up and down within the bar itself. His pacing can literally be abandoned to spoken word monotone to get extra words that don’t fit the bar in. As nearly most great MCs, there isn’t one desire heard to be like his predecessors; instead, an obsession to be so different that the immediate impact of knowledging Skillionaire is a classic of the most entertaining unpredictability. It educated us about Lo Lifes beyond our thoughts of just niggas robbing ill Polo but as great talents living their culture by any means necessary.
SUNEZ: Is Ghostface Killah’s line on Wu-Tang Forever LP’s “Visionz,” saying “Thirstin Howl the 3rd, kid’s back on the scene…” relevant to this coming out as an MC?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: That’s when I really started making my noise and people started to realize me. From the street aspect, a lot of people always knew me. So it’s like when I became a rapper no one believed me because I wasn’t known for rapping. I was known for robbing. When Ghost said it—I even heard Raekwon say it a bunch of times—and we were cool but sometimes I used to think they referring to themselves at times. Like taking on the Thirstin Howl persona because there’s only one in the whole game.
SUNEZ: Let’s go through the catalog. Your debut, Skillionaire.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: Skillionaire, I had five cassettes that were out. Really, different EPs to show different stuff and Skillionaire is the compilation of all of those EPs that was made available as a cd.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: The whole game was evolving at that time into super-commercialism. In 1998, 1999 and all that is when you started to see the breed of the super MC, the most super skilled motherfucker you’ve ever seen before started showing face. That’s also the same time when the commercialism is really crossing over and the South was just getting in the door.
SUNEZ: Now many consider this a mixtape but I really see it as an album.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: The majority of the beats were already used. When I first started rapping no one knew me as a rapper. So when I first started telling people in my neighborhood to let me go to the studio and give me a beat they was looking at me like, ‘I ain’t letting you in my house. Are you kidding me?!’ So no one believed me or took me serious. I went to the studio once or twice but I saw my hunger was too much to wait to get to the studio. So I bought a four track and a turntable and I just started touching anybody’s beats. My house was always like a Lo Life headquarters. It could be a hundred niggas at any time hanging out there. So my doors were open to anyone that wants to rap. We recorded every single day. That’s how those tapes came about. Anything we felt, thought about. We weren’t critical on being too decisive on anything because we were still brand new. I wasn’t a rapper so I was new to learning everything and flowing and all that shit. We just recorded whatever but Skillionaire really was my demo that I shopped. 27 songs on a demo that I shopped it and next thing stores are calling me and saying they want to order a hundred copies right now. I was selling them ten dollars wholesale.
SUNEZ: How did the song ideas come about?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: I would develop the concepts and Fuol was a fiend for it. They was whatever with anything that was off the wall. I always base my shit on shock value. I’m going to say some shit that’s gonna shock you. With one word and you’re going to remember me how I shocked you with the idea like, “How Many Baby Movas?, “Still Live With My Moms.” We were all fiends so it was nothing for someone to come up with something and the next person add on to it and push it as far as we can.
SUNEZ: I skip ahead to a line in the “Natural Born Skiller” song, “eminem took this rap shit without no warning/wasn’t mad when he didn’t come back for me.” Why weren’t you signed and acknowledged as powerfully when you were the most unique of them?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: There were certain people that liked my music but when they found out my real name and who I was they didn’t want to deal with it. They didn’t want to deal with the fact that you can’t tell me what to do, especially when it came with the music. Rawkus made me an album offer then I sat down with Cipha Sounds. They picked Cipha Sounds to be an A&R. They put me in a room with this motherfucka and he started to tell me the direction we’re going to go in with the music. I looked at everybody and I said, “I don’t play no motherfucking games. Ain’t nobody telling me what to fucking do. I’m going to do what I do naturally.” That’s me being arrogant to the game and that’s also me being me and just doing what I do. I didn’t want to follow any specific platform. And you see that was at the time when the whole game started to change. So I flipped the fuck out. When I flipped out the deals went away. That was the problem in the game. Most of the people knew my strength in New York City. They knew my story and where I came from. I came from robbing these motherfuckers everywhere. Coming up in the club with two to three hundred niggas. So when I became a rapper people who were already intimidated by me didn’t want to go in business with me they knew for one, if you jerk me on any kind of deals you’re going to have to answer for it. Two, you’re not going to be able to control me. Not that I’m arrogant or violent but you’re not going to tell me what the fuck to do. I come with me and my fucking army. What are you going to tell me?! That really stopped me a lot. That kept my career from going to a next level.
As far as the eminem line, the reason I said that was when we were on the grind coming up, we would tell each other, ‘yo, when I get the deal first, make sure I’m on your album.’ em[inem] used to say the same to me. Once I get it you’re definitely on my album. The only reason I said that is because those were words that were exchanged for us to say that no matter what we respected each other’s skill to that extent where we must work together.
SUNEZ: But that didn’t happen.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: It didn’t happen. And also when em popped off there was nobody else in his category of rap that could even compete with in that realm or whatever. I was in his category of rap. Not only that I was from the hood for real. Not only that, I was Spanish. I could do the shit in two tongues. There were so many things I always wondered why didn’t they come. Even Paul Rosenberg. He was my attorney. When me and em was rocking together, Paul picked me up as well as his artist to represent me. Once everything happened, nobody clicked with nobody anymore. Nobody hollered at Thirstin.
SUNEZ: As a Boricua writer all these years, I really feel being Boricua had something to do with it. The inability of the industry to sell a diverse Black and Brown truth of Hip Hop origins. Something that got us Boricuas left out of the proper historical role as co-creators.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: There’s a documentary coming out right now called Fresh Dressed. It’s about the history of Hip Hop fashion. It really shows how much Boricuas were involved from the beginning from the whole evolution of everything to the fashion. From the gangs to the breakdancers and everything. There’s a real big highlight of Boricuas because it’s just stating the truth and the facts. A lot of people say that Hip Hop was born in the Bronx and I always say, what’s the dominant population of the Bronx?
SUNEZ: It was Boricua.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: So how could they even say anything when the Bronx is dominated by Puerto Ricans.
SUNEZ: Now quickly going back to Cipha Sounds and this A&R concept. I’ve seen crazy shit at labels and I’m curious what were they offering and expecting you to do?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: That was the thing. I wasn’t even willing to hear anything they were going to say.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: I walked in and said, ‘ain’t nobody telling me shit!’ This is what I do. Nobody is going to tell me how to do my shit. I just came out from doing years in prison. I’ve always been my own man. I walked in there initially letting it be known that nobody’s telling me shit. Y’all motherfuckas came to me at first because y’all were interested in what I do. Now if you’re interested in what I do then why are you going to tell me what I have to do?! Let me do what I do.
SUNEZ: Did you keep going to different labels or just quit that and keep it moving solo?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: When I made one song I would make a thousand copies and give that shit to everybody. When I had three or four songs then I had a package, a headshot, a bio and a cassette and all that. I would take a day and go to every fucking label. I took it to Jay-Z’s office and battled him all in one day.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: I took it to his office to shop my demo and it turned to him and me going back and forth with him on the elevator while he’s walking me out. I shopped it everywhere. I would go to the Def Jam offices and put a package on everybody’s desk. I was looking to see where the interest was at. My first record deal I got from LL Cool J. LL sent me a deal. He called me on the phone and was rapping with me for hours. I got a deal the next day. I didn’t even have a demo at the time. I got offers from the Beastie Boys when they had the Grand Royale label. A lot of people were interested but I never was treated fairly. For one I’m no dummy and two, I was educated by Wendy Day and the Rap Coalition as soon as I started. I was surrounded by Wendy Day functions all the time. All of her stuff showed you how to be self-sufficient and don’t just take what anyone offers you. So I really believed and stuck with that. I wanted a fair deal more than anything. I’m not comfortable with being robbed. I’m a robber so I know what it’s like to be robbed. And coming from Brooklyn, you’re not gonna rob me. We’re motherfuckers that aren’t giving it up. You’re going shoot me and I’m going to walk around with the bullet ‘cause I’m keeping my shit. It was the same mentality with all of that.
SUNEZ: What became the biggest hurdle saying you’ll just be independent?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: I never saw it like that because it was always about my hunger. It couldn’t die. I couldn’t stop doing it. That’s how my name became Thirstin—my hunger. I didn’t care if I was doing it right or wrong. I just couldn’t stop. I was a fiend. It was like crack. That’s what it was all about.
A history that goes from Borinquen to Nueva York, from Gran Combo summers to obsessions with sampled drummers. With his surreal and devastating cadence that cuts the ear like chupacabras con maracas could shock the eye, the rep grew bigger. A rare MC that is rhyming with rap sheets of infamy already filed, Skillosopher is filled with collaborations that show his natural co-existence with the new decade of MCs but also continues to advance the witticisms of his Spanglish bars filled with riffs of refranes and becomes today’s Jibaro. The mixtape feel continues using used beats but his interpretations are pure Jazz improvisation to them. And his stories are given more chapters as the beautiful, “Like Mother, Like Son.”
SUNEZ: Now Skillosopher.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: Skillosopher was basically the leftover songs from Skillionaire. Some of the songs were better because by then I had met other artists and I was able to record at their studios with better quality.
SUNEZ: Like “Russian Roulette.”
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: I started to work with Will Tell by then so I was getting a lot more quality. I was working at Will Tell’s lab and he had Pro Tools. I was learning song structure, more flows from other MCs I worked with. Since I was new there were a lot of things that I had to learn. When I did Skillionaire I got so much press and reviews from so many magazines. A lot of reviews were criticizing my sound quality and saying how bad it was. I didn’t take it bad but as a learning experience. I never knew about a mixdown. I didn’t know any of that. I learned from there and learned what a mix was.
Piraguas from collateral citizens. Blocks of ice are source of funds. A steady scraping of the block reveals its own funds and as soon as its ‘u’ shaped like them ole Taino boats, you and your people can ride with some paper. No longer just the collateral of Operation Bootstrap here in Estados Unidos, we make our own way out of this hypocrisy.
With Serial Skiller, there is the dirtiest of humors, “Who This British Bitch is?,” and “Dreams of Fucking a Cartoon Bitch,” but the theme is the sharp violence and hells that make Thirstin’s reality. “The Cards Life Dealt Me,”and ”The Streets Don’t Listen,”ruggedly declare the hells, while “Walk the Walk” and “Serial Skiller” b-boy proclaim it and “Brownsville Bullet Goldcard Membership” frame it all. The second great LP from Thirstin but the first with exclusive beats and the most cohesive collection made yet.
SUNEZ: Serial Skiller now is definitely a technical advance and the insert and layout is official.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: Now I know the process. With Skillosopher, I didn’t do a mix either and still used a lot of industry beats. Now I made so much money from Skillionaire and Skillosopher, now I have a full studio with an MPC and everything. So Serial Skiller was the first album with beats I made. No one wanted to give me beats at the rate that I wanted to rhyme. So I started making the beats myself and Serial Skiller is all the first production that I ever did myself on the MPC. Then I was in the studio with PF Cuttin and he was learning how to use his Logic and we were mixing everything we were doing. I learned the process of making the album right. Even the layout, I had a concept for it. I was better seasoned at what I was doing. I had more knowledge.
SUNEZ: Tell me about “Mr. Mojon.”
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: Well you know I didn’t grow up too Spanish. All my friends growing up were Black so I didn’t get to exercise the Spanish language as much as the rest of Puerto Ricans in New York. My Black friends were more intrigued by the Spanish music than I was. They always told me to do more Spanish. ‘Do more Spanish. That shit is hot!’ That song’s just a translation of explaining what I was when someone says ‘you da shit, nigga. You da shit, son. Do that Spanish shit.’ Okay, I’m the mojon. It was just saying some funny shit.
SUNEZ: And your Spanish has actually gotten better over the years on wax.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: Now I’m in Miami. And like I said, criticism. Even my family would tell me I didn’t say the word right. I really would get the criticism from the work I’d already done. I would always listen. I would apply it instead of taking it harshly. The Spanglish language is the biggest language spoken in this country. The country is dominated by Spanish people but so many don’t speak Spanish fully that the language is mixed up. It actually serves as an add on to this day.
SUNEZ: There aren’t really any Spanish rhyming MCs that rhyme ill in English too.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: You know who I’ve heard that’s really sick with it—Sick Jacken. And I always try to influence Spanish rappers to rhyme in Spanish. I tell them that it can separate us from the rest of the game. Not only that but what took New York back to the real rap was the Spanglish. It had to be something never done and never been dominant on the airwaves. I remember sitting at record labels and telling them A&R’s, ‘you want this shit to dominate?’ Put this on and we can easily take over Black radio. Alll the Spanish listeners are on Black radio. We can easily take over Black radio and dominate. The majority of people listening to Black radio are Spanglish.
SUNEZ: What’s the importance of speaking Spanish?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: I just saw it as my culture and I should be proud. A lot of my friends didn’t know I could speak Spanish like that. There was no need. If you’re in certain places in the world, like Miami, you have to speak Spanish. They speak Spanish everywhere you go.
SUNEZ: That’s so interesting. We’re both from Brooklyn but you were in Brownsville and I was in Sunset Park and where I’m from, the majority was Puerto Rican in the 80’s growing up. Now this independent grind, is it smoother now?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: I had consistency now. By Serial Skiller I was a known brand and people were waiting to see how I came next. Once I had released Serial Skiller properly mixed, I actually went back and mixed Skillionaire and Skillosopher too. I redid all the songs, put them into Pro Tools and gave them a proper mix.
SUNEZ: On the mic techniques, I always notice the inflections and high and low pitch switches and always on break
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: It’s all to emphasize it. You have to act out your words in order to make them believable and understandable. That’s all I was doing.
Exotically stained lineoleums of all flavors line the halls of la bodegas. Special depressed spots on the floor you can feel the tumbao boom and the whole framework of the bodega is understood. From its dingy basement fumes, merging with the blend of savage meats frying and alcoholic perfumes, sight and smell is heard. On wax Thirstin Howl records are linoleum pieces of those bodegas puzzled into.
For Skillitary, it becomes a mixtape length and styled album where Thirstin’s thirst is blatantly evident. The albums are never pieces of A&R’d sell plates or abridged art works but a soundscape of MCing marathons. 22 tracks, some used, most new, and the battle scenes that made the stripes worn are a focus. The details of today’s Lo Life movement start to really get their theme songs here from “Love and Loyalty” to “O.G. Stripes” Chapters 1 through 3 and the continuing “Brooklyn Bullet Goldcard Membership.”
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: That’s when I mastered the craft. By then I knew what I was doing and I was doing it right every time. I knew how to make an album for anybody. After I did Serial Skiller, I made an album for Rack Lo, Alaskan Fisherman and Master Fuol. I would just work on anything just so I could learn how to use my shit more. By Skillitary, I was a master in my mind.
SUNEZ: Have there been themes with the albums?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: Sometimes I have themes. At times, I realize I have to drop an album and I’ll look through my files to see how much shit I have. Then I’ll decide how I’m going to make the album. When I’m working on the album I’ll have a title for the album, not necessarily going with the theme but I’ll have a title. Right now, I have the titles for my next six albums. I work in advance and I’m about being prepped. I look at this as going to war so I make sure I am going in with more firepower than anyone. That’s how I look at making songs and music. Right now, before the year turned in I finished four albums. I had so much I just released the mixtape, Skydiver School. I already wrapped up Survival of the Skillest, fully mastered and ready to go. I work like that. I’m a fiend and my hunger is what keeps me going. I’ve been complained to my whole life how I neglect a lot of things because of my hunger. I can’t control my urges for it. I love it more than my mother. I love Hip Hop. For me, Hip Hop is a religion. I live it according to how I feel about it. It’s my every day, my every thought. My mannerisms, the way I talk, the way I walk, the way I sleep, everything is Hip Hop. I been that way my whole life.
Swerving effortlessly like cerveza spilled in Coney Island sand, Thirstin begins his second full decade as an MC, copied in portions, never wholly as that would be impossible. With Natural Born Skiller, he establishes himself as El Sonero De Hoy. After La Cura LP of 2006 and before the Mami Y Papi LP with Hurricane G, this LP is his most complete cohesive great work. An LP with all the right mastering, all Original beats with many of supreme quality, and is able to format his themes, rhyming techniques and bilingual skills into all its subgenres.
All is repped: The low mid-tempo flow over the handclap thud on “Gun Laws, Pt. 2,” the sincere rap bolero over the booming bass drums on “Long Lost Love,” the amplified vocal matching the cascading horns on “The Mecca,” the doubled up tempo with perfectly matched syllables on every matching bar on the back and forth “Double Dosage (Part 1 & 2),” the accentuated punchlines and power phrasing on “Swing Chop,” the montuno up tempo’d Spanglish on “La Muelte” and the offset straight ahead, monotone Spanglish bars on “Monstro Del Los Monstros.”
SUNEZ: Now to Natural Born Skiller, personally my favorite album of yours.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: Wow! That shows my progress and my work. I appreciate that. It’s good to see how people interpret it to see it exactly how I was feeling and that I been going the right direction all the time.
SUNEZ: For me, I find Spanish easier to rhyme, mostly everything has the same vowel sounds.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: Spanish is easier to rhyme because most of it hasn’t been done. In English we’re more critical because everybody said everything already and did all these concepts. In Spanish, it’s so fresh that nothing’s really been done. There’s so much space to play with. Lyrically, I don’t see anyone able to blend the Spanish and English words the way I do. I make my English words rhyme with Spanish words when I flip them back and forth.
People don’t know how much rapping in Spanish separates me from the rest of the world and puts me on a pedestal. Another thing is when you’re a Spanish rapper, I’ve been to a lot of these Spanish countries and they didn’t know who the fuck I was but they still bigged me up and supported me. That amazed me. They had no idea of who I was but they was hype for my music. Just for being Spanish and representing the tongue.
SUNEZ: Definitely. It’s a dialect and speech and language that is missing from Hip Hop that was there since the beginning.
Now there are themes you often revisit like the “Brownsville Bullet Gold Card Membership.”
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: It’s something that’s real to my heart. It always brings me back. You know a lot of people claim everything from Brownsville but to be from Brownsville and really know. And to be official when it comes to the hood shit. You know the stupid, ignorant shit or however you wanna see it. Not too many can claim it. I know I talk a lot of shit but most people from Brownsville will vouch for me and not musically but for who I am. What I did on the streets in Brownsville, all over New York City and prison, all that. That theme is that I know a lot of official people and that’s what makes me official. I learned from these people the same way that they learned from me. The way we were bred and that theme of being proud of where I came from. As harsh as my life was, I would have never changed anything. It was so beautiful. I had so much fun. The idea behind the title is about my mind. My mind is my weapon, my heart is the extra clip so my mind and my heart being from where I’m from give me a pass to go anywhere, any hood, any place. That’s the concept. And not necessarily just being ignorant or arrogant. Anybody who meets me will tell you that I’m a good person. I’m really a nice guy. I grew up. I matured. I’m still the same person but I know how to treat people and be fair in life.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: As crazy as my music is, a majority of it is true. A lot of people say what my career is. To me, I don’t have a career. This is my life. This is who I am. This is how I live. I’m just being myself within my music and what I’m talking about. “How Many Baby Movas,” and “I Still Live With My Moms” is a true story. As much as people laugh about it, it’s a true story. So is the Lo Life part of my music and the Love and Loyalty. A lot of this is heartfelt because I’m with my friends when I make some of this music. I’m riding with the same niggas from thirty years ago that love me to death. More people in this world love me than fear me. Regardless of how people think with this Lo Life shit, I’m surrounded by love and greatness that revolves around me. It’s more about love than anything. I’ve never witnessed a greater power than love anywhere. A lot of this is based on love. My music is based on my love for it. my hunger is based on my love for the music. The Love and Loyalty, we stay true to those who love us and care about us, your family, your friends. And look where it takes you, how far you can go with it.
SUNEZ: As an MC, a writer and performer of the word, how do you keep fresh and re-inspire your next verses?
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: I live life. I just parked into a parking spot in reverse. I go home and right about that. It’s everything. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. People think that when they go through certain shit they can’t write. What you’re supposed to do is feed off of your strongest emotion at that moment when you’re writing. When you’re sad, write about being sad. When you’re fucking happy, write about being happy. You gotta feed off your strongest emotion and some people don’t know how to do that. I learned how to write in prison, to really be creative with my writing. I wasn’t a rapper then but I always had a lot of women. My whole life I always had a lot of women. Every day in prison I would get five to ten letters from women. And every night I would answer every letter. Every letter would be like a book, I would tell stories. That’s how I got my practice as a writer. I’ve always seen myself as a writer. I wrote my own book. Nobody wrote my shit for me. I gotta credit all of that to prison.
THE LO LIFE GENERAL/EL RAPERO DE LOS RAPEROS
Thirstin now prepares the release of his next LP, Survival of the Skillest, by sharing a free original mixtape, Skydiver School, he now is a pioneer still expanding these innovations. That his Lo Life movement continues to spawn a rebirth in proper alpha-male fashion, a resurgence of embracing principles of love and loyalty in our streets that are losing them daily and inspiring a flood of upcoming double L affiliated artists from Spit Gemz, Meyhem Lauren, Timeless Truth, Shaz Illyork, German Regime, Eff Yoo and the continued excellence of others from Sean Price to Sadat X. That his unorthodox cadence and idiosyncratic flow is a reservoir of originality that MCs are motivated by and phony rappers constantly bite from. That his compositions are filled with the catchiest of choruses, the cleverest of loops and every great punchline almost never lacks timing yet still provokes rewinds. All in a content too explicit for commercial frivolity but filled with universal appeal. A life of extremities of hell that even few of us Black and Brown in the hood have lived, every song has a piece that we relate to.
And then there is the Boricua reality that is Hip Hop. It isn’t just a Spanish or Spanglish word sprinkled for effect like a random curse or a Tony Montana style paraphrasing. It’s as KRS-One noted, “Puerto Ricans had already been coming to America (especially New York) since the early 1900s and it would be this mixture of Jamaican, Puerto Rican and African American culture that would eventually develop into early Hip Hop.” [Gospel of Hip Hop: First Testament, presented by KRS-One, page 741] Hip Hop culture is part by part merged together by the things the Black and Brown diaspora were doing and the heritage of heavens through hells they brought. The selling of it all left Puerto Ricans out, labeled Jamaican influence as exotic and sold the exclusivity of African American for the Black/white simplicity the United States industry robs us by. Just as with Jazz, it robs the truth that our Black diaspora is filled with countless shades of Black, different ethnicities and converging stories. While the power of the Puerto Rican story was finally immediately demanded by BIG PUN (Remembered In Perfection) with his 1998 Capital Punishment debut LP, it is Thirstin Howl’s career that is giving it the many chapters overdue. As one of the greatest stylist MCs in Hip Hop history, he captures a special gift Boricuas have for satire, metaphorical cleverness and the darkest of humors. Sociologists and historians of the most alienated and disrespectful have always written about us as those immersed in a culture of poverty because we embrace a weak poverty of culture. What we are is an oppressed but beautiful people who, whether on the island or here in the US mainland, have constantly brought a rich culture despite our inflicted poverty. And like Hector Lavoe before him, Thirstin Howl the 3rd embraces his hells because they were fought through with love that funneled extra ordinary talents for a right and rich culture that while noting our worst really amplifies the greatness it has molded. Hip Hop is not the same without Boricuas and just as BIG PUN, Crazy Legs of Rock Steady Crew and Charlie Chase proved such classically so has Big Vic LO.
THIRSTIN HOWL THE 3rd: For me, at the end of the day, it’s about being happy. As long as I feed my hunger, I’m happy. It don’t matter the outcome or output. I live my life. I teach my family and my kids. Live your life. Don’t care what nobody say. Be what you wanna be. It don’t matter what plateau you on. You make the best out of everything. Be truthful and be honest. My Jail Recipes is another concept about a truth of my life. I use what I got and what I am. I don’t just use a big, broad imagination even though I do have one. I use a lot of truth and facts of my life to make it work in my favor. My criminal record in my business is an asset. In the rest of society it hinders me. So I use what I got and I go that direction. I worry about what’s going to work and what makes me happy at the end of the day. I never got a deal. It didn’t mess up my life or ruin my happiness. It never died down my hunger. It made me hungrier that niggas didn’t give me a deal because I got more to prove to you motherfuckers. And after fifteen years I’m still here in the culture, as an icon in many ways, without ever having made mainstream appeal or a push. I have mainstream appeal but I never had that push. I never had their help but I still exist. And I’m still respected. That’s more valuable to me than anything. My great great great great grandchildren, through my work, will be able to see who I was and watch my life be immortalized. I set an example to my family that came through so much drug addiction that there is an outlet. I’ve made my people proud. I’ve represented for Puerto Ricans hard. He’s proud to speak Spanish. Don’t be scared to stand up and be a Puerto Rican amongst the midst of whoever.
Thirstin Howl the 3rd, one who has had the most taken from, built a name taking the most and tasked himself out of love and loyalty to give all to the culture of Hip Hop. A Hip Hop cultural legend, a Boricua icon and an MC great, the Lo Life general is a master of the ole fonts with the illest gold fronts.