Thirstin Howl the 3rd
Thirstin Howl the 3rd (aka Skillionaire, The Polo Rican) is one of Hip Hop’s legendary artists and influential icons. Of Puerto Rican descent from the Marcus Garvey Village projects in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York, Thirstin first became immersed in Hip Hop culture as a graffiti writer and a b-boy dancer in the early 80’s. Thirstin is also co-founder of the Lo Lifes, the Brooklyn street fashion gang of the late 1980’s that has now expanded to become a Hip Hop organization leading the way in fashion, rap music, graffiti, film and literary works.
Thirstin Howl the 3rd first gained notoriety in 1997 via The Source Magazine’s Unsigned Hype (Sept. 97) whilst teaming with eminem for Los Angeles’ Rap Olympics. Since then, Thirstin Howl the 3rd has independently manufactured albums, videos, movies, a clothing line and published literature for over three decades.
As an MC, Thirstin Howl the 3rd is a legendary stylist with an idiosyncratic tempo, dynamic word usage and classic punchlines through some of the most clever song structures ever recorded. It has made him a cultural icon with content that merges the experiences of the Puerto Rican community (the oft ignored co-creators of Hip Hop culture’s founding elements), the most impoverished areas of Black and Brown New York City and the specific insights as a founder of the Lo Lifes, being a fashion icon, a survivor of the prison industrial complex and cultural arts visionary.
From the cult classic debut, Skillionaire LP, intended as a demo, that introduced a grimy and refreshingly unpolished world wildings to 2017’s Skillmatic that reveals a master of tempos, complex phrasing that stretches to Spanish and Spanglish and fully fleshed topic execution, Thirstin Howl’s MC catalog is all time great. With over 30 albums, multiple original verse mixtapes and appearances with over a hundred of Hip Hop’s greatest MCs, Thirstin’s catalog is the ideal mix of quality and quantity.
Always an independent artist, his work extends to film as well. Beginning as a production assistant at MTV for several years, Thirstin learned well and went on to become a writer and cast member for the MTV Lyricist Lounge Show. He eventually established his own imprints, SKILLIONAIRE Enterprises and SKILLUSIONS Films, releasing projects for the English and Spanish markets. They include the creating, starring and executive producing films as The Polo Rican Movie, Big Cuzins Payback and the Jail Recipes Cooking Show along with the 90 plus videos putting visuals to his MC work.
As a co-founder of the Lo Lifes, including originating the name, Thirstin Howl has been at the forefront of leading many of the urban fashion trends of the last twenty years. Today, the Lo Lifes movement is as recognizable a Hip Hop organization as the Zulu Nation or Rock Steady Crew filled with fashionistas, designers, graffiti artists, MCs, DJs, producers, writers and journalists. Thirstin is featured in the HBO documentary feature film, Very Ralph, the first documentary portrait of the fashion icon Ralph Lauren. Its Director Susan Lacy exclusively interviews Thirstin Howl on the Lo Life history and culture that Ralph Lauren has come to acknowledge. In December of 2019, Polo Ralph Lauren enlisted Thirstin as a feature model in the commercial ad and campaign for the re-release of their “Five Horsemen” Rugby shirt, including a highlighting feature on the Polo app. Thirstin is also prominently displayed in Miami’s Museum of Graffiti. Under the graff name, Rier, he is pioneer in bringing the graffiti artform to the neighborhood of Wynwood, Miami where he lived with his grandparents in the late ’70’s to the early ’80’s. He is also a feature contributor and character in the book, Lolife: An American Classic, a crucial work about the Lo Life movement’s founders, history and influence, written by George "Rack-Lo" Billips and Jackson Blount on Power House Books.
Thirstin Howl is featured in the Fresh Dressed documentary on urban fashion and has also launched the Lo Life brand, a collaboration with Willie Esco and Coogi/Etonic brands. He has also co-wrote, with Tom Gould, the massive photographic coffee table book, Bury Me With the Lo On, on the history of the Lo Life legacy from 80’s street gang to today’s worldwide movement with chapters throughout the world, now in its second printing.
In the 2010’s, the diversity of Thirstin’s work reached progressive heights along with greater commercial acknowledgement. There is Thirstin’s establishment of the Love and Loyalty Weekend in 2012, an annual three day Hip Hop cultural event happening in Wynwood, Miami while’s Miami's Art Basel. The event includes a fashion show, vast Art gallery, film festival and an extensively billed concert featuring the year’s greatest Hip Hop and related acts. Then the media coverage from 2015’s Mass Appeal film, Fresh Dressed, on the history of Hip Hop fashion that showcased Thirstin and the history of Lo Lifes to 2016’s FOX5 News feature segment Lo Lifes from his hometown neighborhood Brownsville, Brooklyn and Bury Me With The Lo On featured in 2018’s Complex Films documentary, Horse Power, that explored the relationship between Ralph Lauren’s Polo clothing line and Hip Hop.
In 2018, Thirstin Howl the 3rd was hired by Ralph Lauren and Vice magazine to be the model for the historical event of Polo’s retro release campaign of the Snow Beach line. Bury Me With the Lo On was also a featured item for purchase on the Ralph Lauren Polo mobile app during their 12 Days of Christmas promotion campaign. It was the designated product for the 1st day of Christmas and sold out in two minutes of availability.
This all has led to book, tv and film appearances starting with the 2022 book, Ralph Lauren's Polo Shirt by Rizzoli publishing. Containing full page layouts of Thirstin throughout including exclusive images with he and his son Jesus De Jesus that have been used in its historic and colossal worldwide marketing campaign. For season 2 of Vice TV's "The Black Market" season, hosted by Michael K. Williams (RIP), their episode, "The Art of Boostin" featuring an exclusive interview with Thirstin on the LoLife and Polo culture at his Polo'd out home. For the Showtime network’s series, Everything’s Gonna Be All White series, episode 4, Thirstin Howl portrays himself as a bodega owner. There is also the PBS Channel’s American Experience series that includes classic archival polaroids from Thirstin Howl’s famous collection on their "The History of Jeans" episode.
Over thirty years creating some of Hip Hop’s most iconic music, producing films, music videos, and shows, multimedia enterprising and event creating all whilst continuing to be a pioneering leader of one of the seminal Lo Lifes organization, Thirstin Howl the 3rd is a cornerstone of Hip Hop culture.