An archive review published as part of the Real of 2011 (this LP was #4 that year). A prelude to the exclusive and definitive build with the legend Thirstin Howl the 3rd coming soon…
“Eminem took this rap shit without no warning/wasn’t mad when he didn’t come back for me…” – “Natural Born Skiller”
1982. Brooklyn/Medina Gods. Boricuas. Lo-Lifes. Welfare. Hip Hop prime originators.
2012. Gentrifylyn/Nets. Porto Reekins. Botti-Skinnys. Hood Rich. Pop Hop sellouts.
It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at. And where we’re at in hell, the best are the resurrected raw straight from where it’s from. This year had a wave of Lo-Life affiliated and Skillionaire artists and records that begin a reviving of a Lo-Lifes Brooklyn root that on many levels has always been overlooked and greatly disrespected. From Meyhem Lauren, Spit Gemz, J-Love to Skillionaire artists German Regime, Thirstin Howl leads it all representing a lost crucial content with a rejuvenated, extra ordinary charisma that brings back the roots lovely.
The death of Hip Hop music in the commercial arena was official by 1999 but there were two classic BK debuts that took it back to the raw: MF Doom’s Doomsday and Thirstin Howl’s Skillionaire. Doomsday became a cult classic and Doom became one of the top 10 MCs of the 00’s. However, Howl released excellent follow-ups like 2000’s Skillosopher and 2001’s Serial Skiller. Yet, just as the emergence of true lyricism from a Boricua BIG PUN in 1998 seemed to allow a portal for the other Original people in the NY hoods, it was closed immediately. Howl is an MC with exceptional content relaying the contradictions of his violent survivalist realities, the real Hip Hop struggle to make and preserve creative outlets and his immense family love in a land designed for our oppression. In ‘99, Howl brought this with a sincere humor, clever wordplay and a broken, chopped flow that could repair itself depending on the tempos chosen.
With fake and diluted versions repping while Howl’s work being delivered only for the underground in mixtape form, he faded out of many peoples’ views. After the well done lost Skillitary album in ’04 and the spanglish ill La Cura album of ’06, essentially Spanish Hip Hop not bullshit reggaeton, he comes back with Natural Born Skiller, his most pure album. The purity begins in that many Lo Life albums, particularly Thirstin’s, are mixtape formatted and so there is too much filler with repeated themes, styles and tracks. In addition, the quality of the production is on a deeper level where the beats are sharper with a wonderful sloppiness and the choruses are extremely well written leading to a collection of songs, a great album.
The diversity makes all 21 tracks a virtual necessity as it goes from hood portraits from the concrete on “Brooklyn Killers” to the corresponding Lo-Life fashion consciousness on “Return of the Polo Rican.” Then there is the classic “Surrounded by Criminals” that goes even deeper on the mentality and history of dastardly activities that’s brought through an ill loop of GZA and Biggie. The piano melody that slowly dies bar to bar over a pounding bass drum is addictive when coupled with “Back on the ave of Livonia and Bristol with a pistol…I’m surrounded by criminals” to make that Boricua grimy. Thirstin attacks these street angles comedically as well as on “Brownsville Gold Card Membership 2012” flowing “I’m the pistol packing Papi in the party pissing…”
And the Boricua element, the Original peoples most neglected and repressed in the history of this Hip Hop shit there is a real need for Thirstin’s side. “50 More Cuzins” relates heavy as he embraces clichés that are just fuckn true with love and clever lines. “La Muelte” is a nicely crowded track with a montuno riff and a wailing Fania horn where Thirstin rhymes in Spanglish as the rice and bean monster reveling in the embrace of the death-welcoming street life. The best battle reppin is on “Double Dosage” as the Lo-Life versus Decepticon, Thirstin vs. Sean P, Chapter 1 of a great back and forth that continues with Meyhem Lauren for Part 2. On the first Thirstin rips through double time rhymes while on the second he retorts, “we always ran with Decepticon fam/Stole from the rich/quick lied in the precinct..”
Topically, it continues with his comedic cleverness exposing hypocrisy on “Skilluminati” versing, “Religious decisions, obeying the lies… Priests molest boys/use God as an alibi…” or the racist police on “I 800 Cop Shot,” the homage to the New York root of Hip Hop, “The Mecca” or the love song, “Long Lost Love.” But the battle track, whether with great guests as Canibus, Keith Murray and Chino XL on the title cut’s remix or “High Price” with Edo G and Special Ed, Thirstin’s style remains distinctive. Over the years, he has developed a greater lyrical dexterity within his chaotic flow, quirky word choices and wildly brutal ideas. Natural Born Skiller is filled with beats that work because they are produced right for the artist and exudes the boom bap funk he has always constructed for himself. NBS is Thirstin’s most completely pure Hip Hop album, a collection of all his ideas and creative worth, a coverage of nearly every MC technique you can use, repping so much history, via making a new wax history, that may be lost otherwise.
2011. Thirstin Howl the 3rd. Marcus Garvey Village. Puro Boricua. Double L’s. Poor but more Righteous. New Hip Hop Greats.