He’s been around for more than a minute: Alum of The Source’s “Unsigned Hype.” Contributor to MTV’s Lyricist Lounge Show. CEO of Skillionaire Enterprises. Co-founder of the LO-LIFES. Welcome to Thirstin’s world and latest release, Skilligan’s Island
“I’m so eager,” exclaims Thirstin Howl III. “My name’s Thirstin. I’m thirsty and hungry to always rhyme and make music.” Just check his site, www.spitfactoryonline. His own Landspeed-distributed Skilligan’s Island dropped in July. Then there are his Spitt Squodd’s releases on Skillionaire Enterprises: Master Fool from MTV’s Lyricist Lounge Show came with Brownsville Kid in September. Rack-Lo releases Aracknofoebia in November. The Alaskan Fishermen from Massachusetts are up next and finally, Thirstin’s Skillitary drops early next year. “It’s hard to juggle being an artist and run a label. The business is teaching me that I have to stop sometimes and take care of business. I’m holding off on my new album. We have so many releases dropping that we have to put our full attention on. I can’t wait until the day when I don’t have to handle the business and I can just be creative or vice versa. If any one of my artists takes off, I’ll step back from doing music to handle the business.” Thirstin reveals more of his skillosophy. “A lot of majors throw deals at us. But we make a good amount of money as independents. We pay the bills, take care of our families and do what we’re doing. They have to provide me with a situation better than I’m providing myself right now.” Skillionaire Enterprises has put out three Thirstin solo CDs: Skillosopher, Skillionaire and Serial Killer. Back in ’99, Skillionaire bought Thirstin a full studio.
Though he only started rapping in ’96, Thirstin’s been a super fiend his whole life. “I grew up with hip-hop, Treacherous Three (“Turn It Up”), Melle Mel, Big Daddy Kane, KRS -One, Kool G Rap, CL Smooth. I collected everything and listened to everything. Canibus, Ghostface, Sticky Fingaz, Chino XL, Redman, Raekwon (“Glaciers Of Ice”). I used to break dance in ’83 and ’84. Then one day I was in the crib with my peoples. I freestyled and I impressed myself. I couldn’t believe I was doing it off the top of my head.” He began recording in his house, making songs every day on a 4-track and turntable. “I made a CD to listen to and I was shopping it as a demo. Then somebody ordered 100. They reordered three days later. That got everything started off.”
Thirstin first created a buzz running with Rawkus. He was featured on Lyricist Lounge, Volume I (“Bathroom Cipher”) and Soundbombing II (“Brooklyn Hardrock” with Unique London). Along with being a writer and cast member of Lyricist Lounge Show, he was a production assistant at MTV from ’94-’99. “When I was on MTV’s Lyricist Lounge Show, I dropped a CD. I rode the wave of whatever promotion I had. That was one of the biggest promotions I could have for myself.” Self-promotion is no problem. It’s obvious reading his CD titles that Thirstin’s got skills. “We’re hip-hop all the way,” the Brownsville, BK rapper assures. “I write down every concept that pops into my head and put an ill twist on it that nobody has done yet. I try go against the grain as much as possible, do what a lot of people are scared to do, be as original as possible, especially in concepts and wordplay. I do funny stuff [“Dreams Of F**king A Cartoon B**ch”] and I’m not a funny person. People expect to see a clown. I’m a grimed-out n*gga.”
“If it ain’t tied down it’s mine now.”-“John They’re Stealing Part II,” from Love And Loyalty
The LO-LIFES. Their story first broke in Stress Magazine (The LOLIFE Story, February 1998) and then again in a series in The Source (Sept.-Nov. 2000). Thirstin is one of the originators of the Lo-Lifes. The Lo-Life Founders even dropped a soundtrack to The Source’s series, Love And Loyalty hosted by hip-hop writer Dee Tee. “It’s not something I set out to start,” Thirstin explains. “It just happened. It’s the story of kids bound together to survive. Everything we did was based on survival and it just turned out to be some kind of cult-type shit that spread around world. When we perform, the whole club is Polo’d [Ralph Lauren] down. It’s crazy sh*t to see. Polo is real high-class stuff. You couldn’t find it in the hood. We had to get the exclusive sh*t that nobody had. The hood wasn’t seeing the kind of stuff we were getting. The only way they were seeing it was we were bringing it to the hood, all the Gucci stuff and high priced name brands that people didn’t know how to get but wanted. Polo was b-boy fashion. We claim a big influence on hip-hop fashion and how it evolved nowadays. But the Lo-Lifes had a lot more to do than Polo. Polo is the logo and trademark. Lo-Life is family.”
What next? “Our goals are to be established as a successful company, making that money. We’re doing lots of things, music, cartoons. You never know which will take off. We’re real consistent. We let the fans decide what’s best. We do as much as possible and put it out there to see who enjoys it.”