Words and photos by Steven Lau
In 2010, I received some random Listserv email about an artist named TTK and his upcoming “Urban Equestrian” Art Exhibit. His body of work consisted of Ralph Lauren remixes of pop culture references, right up my alley as I was an avid Lo head. It was a dope show and at the end, I introduced myself…we’ve been friends since.
TTK is a member of the Lo-Lifes, a crew of boosters that earned notoriety in the ’80s and ’90s for ransacking every large department store in New York City. Since then, they’ve evolved into a network of chapters that span the globe. Some rap, some are artists, and some still get busy with the lizzy bag. Some have passed. Some have met their “Lo-Wives” and started their own families. Through it all, their creed of “Love & Loyalty” still stands, made evident by the 10th annual Lo-Life BBQ hosted by Rack-Lo and his wife, Shileena.
Taking place this past weekend at Highland Park, the BBQ could have easily been called off after the forecast predicted rain, but no one paid any mind. 10 years in the making, the weather was inconsequential. Prance-Lo (of ’90s rap group Zhigge) says, “Nothing stops a Lo-Life. Rain, sleet, snow, we gonna come out in full force.” The usual suspects from the NYC/NJ crews—RFC, CM, AYAK, RLPC, PJC, Team Lo—all came in heavy. Lo-Life chapters from Canada, California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Lo-Life South also made the trip.
Raphael S. hails from Montreal, and has been pivotal in helping expand the Lo-Life brand in Canada. When asked why he would drive six hours to New York for a BBQ, he laughed. “Those damn double Ls man, love and loyalty. To see my brothers and share in the festivities of what the culture and the movement has become.”
The Lo-Life General, Thirstin’ Howl the 3rd, sported some pieces from the upcoming Lo-Life clothing brand. Prance-Lo, one of the consultants working with Willie Esco on the brand launch, says with a smile, they’re giving back. “We used to take clothes out the store, now we putting the clothes back in.”
Though the rain got worse as the hours passed, more attendees still came through. Ralph McDaniels chopped it up with LLs that watched him on Video Music Box growing up. Kids were having a blast in the inflatable bounce castle. People brought out their umbrellas and the party kept on. Towards the end of the evening, awards were distributed to “Lo-Life Living Legends.” One of the recipients was Sadat X, who was given a plaque for his contributions to the culture and his continued support of the Lo-Life movement.
When asked how he felt about the BBQ’s 10th anniversary, Thirstin’ replied, “It’s a great thing man. Rack-Lo and his wife, they work hard every year to make it a success. I’m glad to see it reach the heights that people come from all over the world. It’s a beautiful thing to see so many people unite.” Rack-Lo adds, “I feel great that the Lo-Life fam reached this milestone while continuing to make history. The BBQs have become the biggest summer event for the Lo-Life culture worldwide. It started with just an idea and vision in 2006, and now it’s a reality 10 years in. I’m proud of what it’s become and what it represents—pure love and loyalty, growth and progression. SaLLute!”