The landscape of music is constantly changing and reforming. Artists who try to break into the industry may find that they are constantly trying to catch up to whatever the latest trend is instead of remaining true to who they are. Thankfully, there are examples of artists who have always remained more concerned with their own craft and approach than what everyone else is doing. Thirstin Howl the 3rd is a prime example of an artist whose skill has allowed him to survive an over saturated genre.
On his most recent release, Skillmatic, Thirstin explores the relationship between the establishment of an empire and the struggle that is a part of the process on his track “Mental Prints.” He stresses, “Consistency and passion for your craft are what allow you to overcome the struggles you may face. If there isn’t any struggle, there isn’t any strength. Think about your muscles. A lot of struggle breeds more imagination as well, and it forces them to get out and do something.”
For over 20 years, Thirstin has had an active presence in the culture, but it is the first introduction to him, The Lyricist Lounge Show, that has many wondering if the time is right for a return. “We talk about it all the time. When the moment is right, we will react to it. Everyone is in sync as far as the idea is concerned, but we still need to talk about the ways to do it, and there are crazy ways to do it. Everyone has stayed in touch and maintained their passion and drive.”
Part of that passion and drive is expressed through the humor that is such a big part of his music. “More than anything, we just did that stuff naturally. We would just joke around. Like Master Fuol is really Master Fuol, energetic individual with a great sense of humor. Most of it is us just being us and making hip-hop. We cater to those who want this. My shit evolves with the times. I do not have to sound like anybody. What mattered to me most was being respected. I just wanted to rap about everything that I wasn’t because I was living in the hood going through the bullshit. Being myself wasn’t skills to me, so using comedy allowed me to be someone else.”
The longevity that he and his fellow lyricists have attained is a testament to their desire to remain true to their craft. He recalls some of his frustrations when dealing with labels by saying, “A lot never got to go major, including myself. Even if just one person likes me, I will do it for that person, and then that person will maybe tell 10. No one will tell me when I should put out an album. I remember my first problems when first met with different labels, and they would sit me in a room and talk about how they want me to perform. That would make me lose my mind. I was highly disrespected. I don’t play that shit.”
There is no offseason for Thirstin who stresses that he is, “never working on an album. I just record all the time. When it is time to put out an album, I see what songs go with what title in a way that I could put it together and package it. Some songs are 5, 6 years old, but the song were just not ready to put it out.”
Thankfully it was the right time to release “I will always be right here,” which is a beautiful tribute to what it means to be dedicated to your family. As an incredibly personal song that places comedy on the backburner, it offers a glimpse into the benefits that he associates with making music.
“The more I succeed, the more understood the importance of appreciating. Music has been the one thing that has civilized me in my life.. It opened me to my entire life. It opened my mind to so much more. Before, my thought process was very different. My ignorance was a different level. Many things I didn’t understand, but maybe I wasn’t old enough to understand. I learned not to predict life. You can still focus and go on a different path.”
From his clothing line (Lo Life) and his involvement in film production, Thirstin is able to take a variety of paths but understand that they are all connected together.
“I am pushing creativity and pushing real art and staying true to hip-hop. I am pushing originality and that is really big right now. Most people do not even know what that means.”
Words by Jason Kordich