By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
Secret 5: If someone won't help you, figure out how to do it yourself. As part of the Anger Bangers trio, with E-Boogie and Ronny Ray-Gun, Howl creates the beats for most of his own tracks, as well as for most of the other Lo-Lifes camp artists. He admits that started as a necessity because, at first, people didn't want him around their expensive equipment. "Nobody took me seriously as being a rapper," he recalls. "They thought it was just a gimmick for me to get away with something else, to get in there."
Secret 6: Diversify, always. Howl has always been known for playing lyrically with Spanish, using a word or phrase here or there naturally, to fit into an unexpected rhyming scheme. Last year he dropped what he considers his first true "Spanglish album," La Cura. It's a sonically rich tapestry of tropical textures over hard-core hip-hop beats, with lyrics about 90 percent in Spanish. The response from new fans, Howl says, was crazy. "When I started doing full-fledged Spanish, it got me a whole other audience, and the acceptance level was 1,000 times greater." So now Howl has recruited two new Spanish-language artists to his label, Hurricane G and Greco El Padrino (from Miami), and is working on another Spanglish solo album besides a planned English album.
Secret 7: Create your own mythology. Nearly all of Howl's releases and projects, even those mainly by other artists, tie together. His last full-length DVD, The Polo Rican, is partly a series of music videos, partly a documentary about his Polo collection and his Lo-Lifes crew, and partly a comedy about Howl's exploits in Miami as he tries to evade the pintsize hardass Big Cuzin. None of it will see the light of day until 2009, Howl says, because he wants to take time to polish the final product and score a new, more expansive distribution situation.
Secret 8: Stay timeless. "The way I structure my songs is not for a certain time," Howl insists. "Hard-core, hard hip-hop is still timeless. You don't have to change with what's going on, especially if you don't like it."