All photographs courtesy of Rakim Supreme Shabazz Allah (the Honorable Rudy Escamilla)
Letting in a different breed of horse today.
The one who didn’t boost Lauren but the food of the ear,
Thefts in captured compact discs and corralled cassettes.
See this ghetto market of food for thought,
An art for good out of Aisle 1 Boom and,
Aisle 2 Bap,
All crashing into LO cookie shelves,
Veganizing the Uni dairy section,
Thawing the frozen Polo Bear section.
Lo Life, where a whole knife once twisted open the garments to new life
now slice envelopes to these letters of endless dope.
What?! Wait! Can’t erase it.
I bled on the page and it stained an old supremacy.
A cloth pen sewn in a LO hand style.
L’s up, a ladder for the people,
Ascend with love, launch through via loyalty
A simple profound movement.
a Lo Life,
the God born
poverty provoked progressive Arts Generation
Skillastrator: “2L’s Up!”
I know it as Imperialist Nirvana, this Times Square, NYC. I approach what I know as a condescending metaphor–this damned staircase past socialism but it’s just those Red Steps. I build it’s the Understanding Cipher day of Knowledge Equality but most suffer it as just January 30th, 2016.
I don’t know if a war is goin’ on out because everyone here is safe from. None of the lights flicker like they used to and I can’t find people who bicker like they ought to. All is lit fine, properly bright white underneath the covers of colors and everything sold is pitched casually, never hustled as if you’ll buy it anyway. The police act other than themselves for they have yet to become brute; the sold sex is properly cute, for you’ll get some once you acquire these said things, declare these thespians popular mantan-ery surrounding me.
Now far from here, Lifshitz’ commerce flagship is more uptown, more east side, more fucking bourgeois ciphered. Here, fakeness above and below can begin with that soiled stable of the storefront USPA, United States Polo Association. Hitting marks with volleyed horseshit as they mock the aspirations for acclamation in the common urbaneer. Up top I sadly stare at the looped commercial of the staged bio-play, On Your Feet!, for one of the gusanos’ finest, the Estefans. And as these conga coon lines dance in the artificial cloud bulbs lit above, I can see Curry by their side, suited up in his excellence allowed to pop the handles that Iverson’s supremacy was niggerized through. And I think, AI lived a Lo Life like reality too when his Hip Hop dress reflected his self-empowering rebelliousness and shouted his originality. To be barred from this Hip Hop self-expression of cloth from the same National Basketball Association that would turn and glamorously package it to their highest fiscal levels. It is true too, the world wants to dress LO but they’re only sold the lowliest versions of it. Only sold are the faulty fabrics that offer no clues to a deeper seam of justice.
It might be that the frustrations of rebelliousness, rightly rooted, lead to a self-destructive anarchy to one’s own betterment. From Iverson to every Black/Brown man, dollars are to tender concessions into comforts and every innovation we create from our carbon rooted minds becomes a conflict diamond thought to be born. The struggle for Lo is suppressed here awkwardly as its always been. Lo Lifes, clutching Love and Loyalty, the lost principle and the forgotten way to ever preserve and build it, now go to salute and celebrate their triumphs at Times Square, now a sanitized hell. It’s no longer a savage bazaar, where warriors prevail in play and the truths of materialism sprouted in hookers and hustlers amidst peddlers and peons.
The dried blood from the pimps’ cups color these steps of tourist assembly I embark on and images of devolution dazzle abroad. Still, here, is where I receive my Ls, a most high honor for the God, straight from the lung of Medina, Sunset Park, holding the rarest Hip Hop element in my fingertips.
Sunez Allah, my stories are premeditated perfection because 17 years ago I was taught to write my own history. A perfection that knows errors and flaws, stresses and hells and humbly uses them as blocks in this puzzle of life, one that cannot end for it has no beginning. Born out of gross poverty and honorable Boricua parenting, my 80’s polos had no horses, not even tigers, elephants, bears or spiders. Just roaches under my Anti-Adidas missing stripes and Lee jeans past their battle prime. Criminality wasn’t an option despite so many meals funded by the government. My rebelliousness was quelled in a learning stage. I wanted to skip straight into revolution. Not just my poverty but colonialism and its imperialist roots that place me here. Not just ignorance of my immediate roots and ancestry but a complete knowledge of self. So now, not just some rap music, these are orchestras of counterculture. The right books redefine the crooks, the lowest thugs pull away the rugs and the toughest sounds keep you proud. In these times, I begin my element of Hip Hop, Writing, with two same damn Lo sweaters. But my life got better. Not a rap critic, but a music journalist that becomes a historian of worth. Not just a music reporter but a creative writer authoring art works to chronicle and stand next to the music. Hip Hop on Hip Hop with Hip Hop. Art on Art with the best Science on Music I got and still getting.
Vibe, XXL, The Source, HipHopDX and all my other stops were small pamphlets and sellout samplers to the builds I intended to write so my brothers Kevlaar 7 (Rememebered In Perfection) and Paragone opened the binding to this PremiereHipHop.COM. And after twenty years in Hip Hop, the element I worked to create I can really flower. Hundreds of reviews, articles, interviews and creative Sunset Style pieces later, the Lo Life crew is a movement of Love and Loyalty driven through the Hip Hop elements. And big brother Vic Lo, the General Thirstin Howl the 3rd honors me with the title of #Skillastrator and my other big brother, another original Lo founder, Rudy Lo, whom I know as the God Rakim Supreme Shabazz Allah builds with me. He educates me on the honored legacy of men with nothing that take back their lives one stitch at a time. That we see the exotic thefts of Polo but not the love to make your brothers and their families never heavy. To lift when they’re down, to loyally see them at their best and unite to make that vision reality. A realness permeates the Lo Lifes just as easily as the charisma and skill of their MCs.
Well now, the night of the 2016 Lo Goose on the Deuce, the event that resurrects the rendezvous of triumphant warriors, reaches its seventh commencement. What’s my Lo for it? How do we keep the cipher prime so the understanding is born? I start only with timeless truth given in distinct solace so the P wing scarf is for Sean Price, our brother remembered in perfection. My indigenous roots turn my Denim and Supply Indian Chief t-shirt into an artifact of my God Head. My orange waffle knit thermal with Indian chief silhouette summoned from history through Saranac Lake represents the waters, hills and mountains, this whole Earth we resurrect. The zipped D&M Indian Chief hoodie is solidarity as we Black/Brown are one and the same beyond the devil oppressors who seek to zimmer our young men. The unmarked fatigues for my pants and backpack rep my steadiness to move forward, equipped in battle. My footwear’s the Polo yellow whitsand boots to keep traction through these deserts of ignorance. Up top, the Lo horse skullcap under the BIG PUN fitted, one of my era’s indigenous legends returned to the essence. The goose rep is the D&M army green ripstop down jacket I alter with the flag of my immediate ancestry, Boriken, coming out of the oppressive American flag patch and anchored by the Lo cookie. My orange RLX vest wraps around it as a lifesaver because the Savior of the Universe Now shows and proves the Equality of Zig Zag Zig, a little knowledge, wisdom and understanding, rocking them back and forth out of their sleep, keeping my family afloat. My universal flag of my Nation of Gods and Earths only makes sense on my left chest above the RLX logo. These aren’t ancient pieces, like the vintage LO gooses and sweaters Lifa Allah wears so uniquely. Symbols of the hells he worked right through yet they remain abnormally clean as if Marty stepped out of the Delorean to deliver them back to the future. A wizard among wizards, the origins of the refrain, ‘Godliness is cleanliness.’ It is that every Lo Life only has and needs to wear the truths of Love and Loyalty. But creators create creation and the excitement of life came in the keenest fashion sense on the illest Polo. Ralph Lauren was never worn right til these Medina marauders rushed in. Word is bond on these snow beaches, Raekwon. The uniform do mean a lot.
In this right cipher, I was exactly revealed to have my Ls by Rakim. I exposed a little of the jewels in my pieces as the great Sadat X was amazingly my hype man and Lo luminaries as Sun Lo out of Ayak Nation analyzed. The night wore on with clothes that were all fitted to hugs, embraces and pounds. Always a silent disciple, I did the knowledge to what I saw, seeing a movement developing and I, honorably embedded in it. Rakim dropped jewels on me some more. Too many showed me…word…love and loyalty from my brother Shaz Illyork to Dallas Penn down to all my 5 Percent family that have been repping their Ls for years, months and days from Be Born of Concealed Weaponry to photographer Knowledge Truth.
I left the Imperialist Nirvana as I came. A bodhisattva who said, “fuck their heaven.” I’m a Lo Life and the highest rewards are the Lo jewels that Love and Loyalty affords. Traveling through Mecca, past Allah school and into Quisqueya, I began the work of this Lo Life: to respect, document and honor the past struggles and current triumphs of these once poverty stricken Original brothers and sisters. Those who forced a greater lifestyle and provoked a stronger culture in the process. Also to add my innovations respectfully to the cipher that progress it positively. Do the knowledge and see how my Ls build.