LoLife Logo 1
THE LO-LIFE STORY
The Lo-Life story is one of struggle, survival and consequences. It is New York and hip hop history with the pursuit of the American dream. It is the ghetto mentality nurtured by the realities of poverty and prison. Upper class 5th avenue department stores meet the desperation of Brooklyn housing projects. Add brotherhood, love, loyalty and spontaneous crime sprees. All done in a style and fashion of wardrobe that would globally influence generations of this culture we call hip hop.
Since then staying fly, fresh, crispy and dipped meant your clothes were new and usually from the most popular designers with the flashiest colors. When Tommy Hilfiger was an amateur in the streets, Izod lacoste was past tense and Versace was unheard of to rap music listeners. The head honcho in labels was Ralph Lauren’s Polo. The Polo brand has endured in the race for quality, style, and accessorizing. Almost every clothing line born in the new millennium has tried to imitate its pattern’s, color schemes and variation of logos. All because of the Lo-Lifes self indulging way of unconsciously promoting Polo to the urban consumers. Who at one time didn’t have access to the man on the horse in local neighborhood stores.
As the year 2010 approaches the Lolife legacy has been told in music, books and magazines for more than a decade now. The greatest misconception about them has been that they only wore Polo and were all shop lifters. Lo lifes wore and stole every popular name brand from Gucci to Benetton. There were some LoLifes who didn’t wear Polo at all. LoLifes were made up of Drug dealers, stick up kids, chain snatchers, pocket diggers and straight up Gangsters. Money hoes and clothes was our motto and Lo was our life.
The name Lo-Lifes came about in 1988 when Big Vic Lo (Thirstin Howl The 3rd) got caught talking to a girl after he just got another girl’s phone number. The girl said to Vic Lo “you are a lowlife!” in a disrespectful manner. His reply, “You are right” I wear Lo everyday and Lo is my life. Then everybody replied, “That’s right, “We are Lolifes!” it was never officially voted on, or anything it was just the name we lived by. The Lolifes were originally composed of two boosting posse’s from different sections in Brooklyn.
There was the Crown Heights half who were originally known as Ralphies Kids (Ralph Lauren’s Kids). That name being made by G-George whom lives on St. Johns and Utica Avenue, which was also were Ralphies Kids could be found. Then there was the Brownsville half who were originally called Polo U.S.A. (United Shoplifters Association). That name being made up by Ski-Lo, and Pumpkin (RIP). The Brownsville half were all mostly from the Marcus Garvey Village Housing Complex with others from Van Dyke Projects.
I remember before we became the Lo-lifes, we would see each other on the trains. We use to plot on robbing one another for the LO items we were wearing, it never came to that though. It was on the Deuce (42nd Street and Broadway), when we first clicked together. There were a lot of movie theatres and game rooms there. There were mad girls from all over. One of the main attractions on the Deuce was the photographers with all the different designer backgrounds to take pictures on. we were stepping up to take a picture one Saturday night when Ralphie’s Kids were already on the Polo Background, their wears was crisp but that was the one thing we had in common. So niggas was like “yo let’s take this flick together” so both mobs got in one flick together, little did we know it would make history according to Brooklyn streets. Lo-lifes was mainly known for boosting, running up in stores and just snatching everything one could carry. We made this common in our everyday activities. We turned it into a lifestyle and to this day it is still the way some original members put food on the table.
When we traveled we would roll at least 50 or 60 deep and could be recognized by the rainbow of Ralph Lauren labels. By 1989 we grew and had members in the 90’s (East Flatbush) and East New York. We would get all dressed up just to go out and commit crimes. Sometimes we would go to clubs wearing like 5 different Polo shirts each. We would wear one on top of the other and switch shirts all night while walking around the nightclubs. Your prop status was rated on how much Lo you had and how big your heart was.
When Lo-lifes first united it was mutual respect from Brownsville to Crown Heights. We did everything together, boost, fight, party, look for girls and basically shared the same problems inner city youth face. Everyday was a fashion show and a shoplifting spree throughout upstate malls, Manhattan stores, even fast food restaurants like McDonalds were hit. We stole everything from our deodorant to our milk and cereal for breakfast. Sometimes we got confused for the Decepticons, the only difference between us was the attire we stayed extremely dipped. Our whole mentality revolved around that; staying dipped. The Lo-life experiences gave many their whole thinking pattern showing them means for survival and ways to help moms pay the rent.
Boosting became a culture: we don’t claim to be the first to ever do it. All we are saying is that we made it go mainstream out on the New York City streets. Even out in Philly Boosting Billy an original member established a whole other episode of Lolifes. There were also the uptown Lo-lifes who were Chris, Ibit, Rob, and a whole bunch of Bronx heads that did crime so fast we used to have to race them to the victims. word! When we first established the Lo-lifes a lot of us were mad young. Twenty years and counting have gone by and Lo-lifes spread so much that many people none of us knew have claimed to be Lo-lifes. On the streets, in the rap industry, even television’s ABC 20/20 was planning to do an episode on the Lo-lifes. They held a meeting over at ABC studios somehow we found out about it and got there an hour late. We walked into a room full of different rappers and boosters who claimed affiliation to Lo-life. There were even advertisements of Lo-life hats in Source magazine that none of us had anything to do with it or whoever designed it. Lo-lifes is a title each original member has lived by and some died by so the name is right fully ours. The Lo-lifes list is endless there are many members from both sides that never met each other. Whether you were a part of Ralphies Kids, or Polo USA, once it was established everyone instantly became a Lo-life, even if you never met the other side.
We would terrorize 42nd street on Friday and Saturday nights. We were always so deep we would never pay to go into the movies. There were so many of us you would be stupid to try and stop one. Even at the stores in the same area we would steal every 40 oz of Old English 800 by just picking them up and walking out. We would be responsible for 75% of the crimes committed up there. As for the department stores we hit, Manhattan was a regular target. Macy’s, B’Altmans, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Trump Towers, Century 21, BFO and like I mentioned before even McDonalds. Our main target was Polo either putting it in backpacks or stuffing it down girdles. Most of the time when there was so many of us, we would just rush the stores and take all you can carry. Leather and shearlings stores were hit also along with women’s gear shops. This would always be the quickest shit selling and that was how a lot of heads made their money. One thing we all had in common was the love for true hip-hop. We would go to a lot of the most popular hip-hop clubs. We never paid for drinks: we would steal the bottles from behind the bar and stay drunk all night for free. We usually left the club after getting into some shit or taking somebody’s shit. A lot of the things we did resulted in consequences. Many Lolifes were in and out of jail for long periods of time. Regardless of whatever situation the Lo-life Ralph Lauren lifestyle remained the same. In prison official heads wore as much Polo in jail as in the streets. You had to be a real nigga to be able to keep your Polo in the prison system where inmates would rob each other for anything especially expensive clothing.
Empire Skating Rink in Brooklyn was were we met every Sunday. The Rink would close about 5pm. Lo-lifes would unite out front and walk toward the subway headed to Manhattan to get paid. The ill shit was the entire skating rink on Sundays was composed of boosters from all over brooklyn: it was a big fashion show. After a while when we would leave on Sundays other boosters in the rink knew where we were headed and what we were up to. So, a lot of others would follow us and add on to the chaos. Everybody wanted to be down with us and every Sunday was a repeat of last week. Except for one week we said we would hit the stores in Manhattan before the skating rink opened Sunday morning and had a quick rush at Lord & Taylor’s for all kind of flavors in Polo bathrobes. Then we went to Empire Rink there were at least forty of us in the middle of the day at a skating rink wearing bathrobes. Of course we always got the girls. They even got with the program therefore calling them Lowives.
Stealing was a sport and a source of income and from the way some turned out 20 years later it is all they may ever know. In the streets we weren’t always the culprits, we were preyed upon by jealous people who wanted what we had (Our Lo) and just didn’t know how to get it the way we did. In conclusion, some of us were killed and some of them killed and so on. (Ignorant but the truth)
Twenty years later traces of Lo-lifes spread all around the world Myspace.com alone has thousands of new representatives throughout the internet. Lo-Life followers have been behind the designs of companies like Rockawear and LRG. It’s no wonder what gave D-Lo and J-LO the idea for there clothing lines.
It was original Lolifes who started using the world LO after their names to signify the affiliation to the group and a lifetime of loyalty.
LOVE & LOYALTY!