Gimlet Media has a new podcast all about the beautiful and complicated dimensions of Black life. It's called The Nod, and it's hosted by best friends (and Blackness' biggest fans) Eric Eddings and Brittany Luse. In this episode, Eric tells Brittany all about his love for Polo Ralph Lauren—and the story of one group of boosters in Brooklyn who took their own love for Polo to another level.
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00:00:00hey surprisingly awesome listeners I Am Britney loose and we're best friends and together we host one of gimlet media newest shows the nod that is right vinod is all about by culture and me explore all of the things about Black Culture that are maybe unsurprisingly awesome and we would love for you to check out the shower so we want to play you one of her episodes here now and if you like it please go and subscribe to the night yes subscribe but we have already got a bunch of episodes out for you to binge on so go subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen so here it is I knew show from gimlet media the nod
00:00:53from gimlet media this is the night I'm Eric eddings and I am Britney loose
00:01:05so I've been a huge Pollo fan for a long time to understatement but yeah problem for a while so like for example in middle school we have this like big bus trip I you know you do like the overnight trip like a big deal from Memphis to DC and my mom gave me some money for like lunch and souvenirs you know supposed to last me throughout the whole time what did you do with the money what happened was we stopped at an outlet store on the way and they had a polo shop like a Polo outlet yeah I went crazy and then I spent every last dime of my money but like I want to come back with have many different pieces as possible so it looks like I got like really high value okay but I can only afford t-shirts
00:02:03celebrity by like 6 or 7 Polo T-shirts and blew all my money to the point where a teacher had actually loan me money for the rest of the trip to be able to like eating stuff
00:02:14I want to give you a path of this only because you were 13 yeah needless to say Polo drove me to do some crazy things and the reason why I was so in the polo it actually started online like when I was that age I will Google to find like images and websites for like Polo inspiration Lowe's faux if you will hear you laughing with me right right oh my God but in these searches like I started like notice something you know it was like the same people actually popping up image afterimage by candids like folks will be in the club on the corner it looks like the early 90s it was a group of people literally in Polo like Polo from the top down hat jacket shirt shirt over it scarf
00:03:14happy brand was made for like like white folks to do like crew and she like that but the way they wore it was like it was different felt like he was a little oversized everyone hats turns the back not like crap down like a dad hat this is a big deal for me is a kid like seeing the stuff up on my computer at home they were just so fresh like in this weight I wasn't and I wanted that you don't like I want to look just like that so like like who are these guys well they were like it official group name they have a name the lights
00:03:58and the other day I was thinking about the lowlifes and I started to look into them in the more I went down the rabbit hole I realized they put Pole on the map for a lot of kids like me and the story of how they did that blew my mind I heard all about it from one of the lowlifes Founders Puerto Rican skillionaire low-life ngv Brownsville all day
00:04:27it is accurate though
00:04:32so the story of how Polo went from the streets of New York to my living room in Memphis it starts with this guy in 1988 and was a teenager going by the name vicolo he and his friends were track from Brownsville Brooklyn into Manhattan and their crew was massive imagine you know 40 dudes out hanging out partying and they just link up with another 5062 and they start hanging together one night on Main Spot was Times Square when Times Square was considered the deuce when it was grimy and dirty and it was pimps and prostitutes and pushes and you know that there was a whole different environment up there was pretty dangerous person in his friends were from the Marcus Garvey projects in Brownsville but they ended up linking up with another crew from Crown Heights to form like a SuperCrew you know and are you ready for this so they would go into department stores and just like
00:05:32sworn the place folks everywhere grabbing everything that they could talking shirts sweaters pants even scarfs definitely hats they just snatch everything and both out the door trying to avoid every single cop on the way
00:05:48listening to the ship was riveting I see what I see why it so all these kids from different parts of Brooklyn and Queens decided to join together and form a massive crew and together did they found this mutual love for looking really fresh sticking up Terrace and shoplifting designer threads you know and of course the brain that brought them all together was Polo obviously because I had super bright colors of Prince and they settled on a name the low-lifes because the only other option would have been like the polite crew and yeah that's like to close down exactly it was a little sibling rivalry who was the freshest was a Jew
00:06:48Puerto Rican you know everybody was black and low life at this time but being Puerto Rican
00:06:56all the black girls love you that's all I can say
00:07:00I'll have anything to say about that. So the jury is still out who is the freshest in the crew but like Thurston had the sauce you know he became like one of the leaders of the lowlifes especially on their boosting sprays they will take whatever they could grab and bring it back to Brooklyn they keep some of the pieces for themselves but the rest they resulted in the neighborhood for like a much cheaper than retail price obvious it was exciting for them like every new Boost was an adventure
00:07:34it's imagine you know you're going to hit the store you got it at Target
00:07:39we all riding the train together we know where we going people was so anxious to beat out the guy next to you when the train doors would open up everybody was race to the store to get it just wait you there and try to take more than you could take it when I would more than the next person this was a constant everyday thing
00:08:01gotta be so fast to do that like I'm just trying to think of what it takes out of Holcomb people walk into department store in just like that's coordination of yes so they were boosting and it was illegal but it helped make me don't make bread make ends meet and like just feel a little better about life in the PJs we all grew up poor with shit like if you would see me on the street I was probably one of the freshest dude you saw in your life but when you came to my home I didn't even have furniture McRib is fucked up you know what I will bring the girls home to my house just like that she would never complain about how my house look bad or I didn't have furniture and shit like that because I was confident regardless I knew who I was all of us lowlifes would like that
00:09:01money outfit and soon. Side New York wanted in more boy boost and Billy had ventured out to Philadelphia in the late eighties and he spread the culture through silly crazy
00:09:17that will travel to a different state and I will be Polo down and somebody in a different state with tell me oh yeah you on that loan I stuff not even knowing who I am I everything at what was that like to hear somebody tell you about your like your own shit like to bring that back to you it was no humbleness you know with it at the time
00:09:46so now the Busan culture is starting to pop outside the city and love for polo itself is just spreading like wildfire and actually wasn't just a boosting see a lot of folks refer to the late 80s as the Golden Age of hip-hop and the lowlifes we're in the thick of it we were everywhere the rappers what if you look at music videos from the 80s 90s you seen a lot of rappers get with the culture of Polo as well and massive rappers was shot in the South and they salt you know it's a long list of Ziggy the rap group was actually the first rap group out there that was spreading the showing the culture
00:10:27Trinity Macy's Polo Raekwon was wrapped in his heavy Onyx always big the subs up in his music
00:10:49that was always about being fresh but these guys they were the freshest and all the rappers took notice and did you did you guys know them personally like it was it just you saw each other in the club and they like what you were doing you like what they were doing
00:11:06I mean
00:11:09thousand prison just watching all the stuff on TV
00:11:21after the break Thurston has an epiphany in his jail cell
00:11:37welcome back so I know the thing about crime is eventually you're going to get caught Thurston will find himself in and out of jail and at the same time it turned out there was a flip side to getting famous more more people knew about the lowlifes and you know that was cool like you see yourself in magazines and rap songs but the cops didn't care and more and more lowlifes got locked you will represent in on in Rikers Island in the same form and matter and wearing all that Polo in jail that's a little fart a lot of us and show what we were the only miss really helped to establish the respect we had from prison to the street and I constantly had a Target on your back just hanging on your own fucking block is murdering me him everyday
00:12:33people stealing all the clothes we bringing Ashton home motherfukers was coming to take it from us and don't like the neighborhood was coming for it and they knew we were doing this on a daily basis if it came dangerous like people died died back and they were looking real fresh I had like you know I'm just a dollars of designer here on and like those in the hood what come up to and be like I want what you got run that yeah they were losing people all over the place like members are getting picked up by the cops and rival cruise and even Thurston ran out of luck he went to jail and violent crime charges things are looking pretty dire
00:13:20I'm sitting in jail looking at life and then I didn't get life so I'm like I'm not going to get this shot again I got another shot I got to do something I had to put that shit to the side I have to stop you know all my life is going to be over I was just going to be in prison forever and that's when things changed be linked up with some people in prison I told him even if he gave up boo sting like it didn't mean his life was over they started pointing out to him like hey man there's other ways you can get Thrills it doesn't have to be illegal in Thurston he'd always loved one thing rapping and when he heard that he was like oh well maybe that could be a legal way for me to make money plus right in the fucking song and then that's when my career began
00:14:15low light from the hobo site for the polo phone with the night touch for the ever of the DMC leather sole witness it really ever of killing sweater going to be with the nurses released from jail and decides to leave boosting behind and he's having the time of his life as an artist and it was then that he realize like if he could get his shit together the rest of the low-life could do the same dudes always had it in them to be every way possible they want to know that everybody was mostly forced to be gangsters and shit because of the environment we would live there you know but everybody has Senses at the same time and smart and intelligent to know that this wasn't going to be the way forever he made it his mission to get the lights to go legit and that wasn't always easy sometimes Thurston had to get a little blunt tell you like this you ain't coming around me doing that bullshit like when I started doing rap shows and shit
00:15:15dirty mother fucking want to come with me to see me perform and I'll let everybody know yo don't Rob nobody when we go to the spots don't fuk nothing up then if you go against with the fuk we say we going to get you it's like the conversations we have every time we know you're always telling me make sure I Rob anybody home anybody I appreciate in this moment though that person is like sending me examples setting his boundaries but still being very authentically himself right there's his rap career is blowing up and meanwhile he's trying to turn around the lowlifes Image new promotions I needed to do different things engineer and you know a lot of little life found it and stuff what you was gangster's I couldn't get none of these gangster motherfuker do nothing
00:16:12like August administrative work you know things like that everybody was too focused on being a gangster being a gangster have been a big part of what made the low-life lowlifes but at first and went around the globe touring he saw how people dug the low life culture and he got an idea I was reading all these over Polo head and when I will see how they would embrace me like you know I was fairly a new artist not too many people know about but they knew about Vic Lo they know about me as a low life for what I was on the streets and things like that so these people were gravitating to me but out of sincerity and things like that and wanting to help
00:17:04I felt it these tools needed to be mixed up with the gangster dudes like they all had something to learn from each other two kind of balance it out a little better and that's exactly what happened and after that like it wasn't even about the boosting the lowlifes expanded to include all sorts of members people who never stall A Day in the Life I'm talking official low-life chapters and places like Toronto Tokyo New Zealand and they're about that low-life and they have these like meetups where a DJ will I spin records why folks trade rare Polo pieces like the Boosie was in the rearview and being a low life became something more it means cultured now
00:17:55this is any balls into a culture and right around when the Lights Went legit Polo went public and the IPO was huge like over 700 million dollars huge and you know who's to say if the lights were responsible for that but you got to wonder either way they're still obsessed with Polo and they're still reppin the culture here in Brooklyn heavy my producer James hit me up with some news the other day the low lights were having a barbecue here in Brooklyn Where it All Began how did you even feel it was like it was like the promise of Christmas morning you know so on this like super hot Saturday morning I went outside like Highland Park in Brooklyn and liked what I saw was wild
00:18:41Moonlight barbecue young Lil Wyte get your grub on orange band stop being a cheap bastard $20 let's go baby
00:19:01imagine the flyest black and brown folks you've ever seen all in one spot like they were all there just decked out from head to toe and Polo Ralph Lauren now the coaches not about the boosting but we can never forget that that's where it come from one of the original lowlifes look up of burgers on the grill and she explains how the picnic got started because you know we didn't really have a place and a time to get together so we said once a year you know we want to invite all friends feed them bring everybody together and you know what just do something special
00:19:53this is what the lowlifes do now they cook out they have meetups they're sitting still wrapping but he's also running a low-life clothing line and they told me they do a lot of charity work now to like back-to-school drives giving away turkeys at Thanksgiving and raising money for scholarships it's like a hood Rotary Club but at the end of the day no one forgets that the lowlifes changed hip hop fashion forever it's fine that is fine as history is all history it's all hip-hop and I'm saying and everyone brought it up like this one cat Rancis to Busan and then go crazy for this world game and you know I'm saying to me was different but you know now to be together and show love and scrap yard in and do all this is all know life forever and that's a part of what so amazing about this like the lights went on his crazy Journey like because of them hip hop is different like what we where is different like how if I'm being honest like me as a kid like I'm different
00:20:53but even though their lives are changed so much in the crew has gotten so big the original lowlifes there just as tight as they were in the 80s it starts and again my family does the still my family
00:21:09regardless of succession you know people moving around and you'll never change who my family with my best friend is still my best friend from 30 years ago know that it is really a family that's really love and loyalty you know like that's rare yeah I know you've heard the term there's no honor Amongst Thieves
00:21:35I beg to differ much love to everybody that came out representing at Love and War Machine
00:22:07bananas produced by me Organics with Britney loose K Parkinson Morgan and James T green icing your producers Sarah after Robin we are edited by Jorge just and any road Strasser with editing help from the old Roman engineering from Matthew ball and cedrick Wilson are theme music is by Khalid be other original music in The Show by Kelli B tacstar and Bobby Lord additional sound elements provided by Christopher Piper special thank you to Thurston Howell the third for sharing his music with us as well and because we are a new show we would love it if you could rate and review us on Apple
00:22:44no lights on no smoking sign and stole the conductor's Hat horrified voice play Walking to James rooms on 42nd and Broadway Mayhem and Chaos just like my man Steve Austin
00:23:16Cottage Inn
00:23:17I have a great day enjoy the gym about to get Broly call you I will switch with 500 motherfucking shit
00:23:26work work work
00:23:39OK Google
00:23:42Google Google Google Google what did you do with the money I spent every last dime of my money on a scarf

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