The Boston hip-hop boundary breakers’ Rock Boyega faucets high expertise, transports area and full style by way of an epic perpetual pandemic expertise
“I’m in artwork faculty.”
“I’m learning to be a instructor.”
“I work as a studio musician.”
“I’m simply joyful to be right here. I’ve been ready for this for some time.”
“I performed on the document we’re about to take heed to.”
After which it’s my flip …
“I’m the editor of DigBoston, and I personal the primary three STL GLD albums on vinyl.”
It’s a crisp fall Friday on the Bridge Sound and Stage studio in North Cambridge, and STL GLD invited just a few dozen of their closest mates and most devoted followers to feast on Rock Boyega, the group’s first album in additional than three years. The Arcitype asks all people within the room to make an introduction, and because it seems, numerous heads right here within the huddle performed, sang, or jumped on the undertaking in some style. A handout of the tracklist and credit reads like a roster of Hub rap, world music, and indie-rock hitters, this revival being an prolonged household affair incorporating skills akin to singer-songwriter Julia Easterlin and Hub Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola. I look across the studio; the vitality is percolating.
Artistic camaraderie makes for magical moments, however it can solely maintain consideration for therefore lengthy—together with that of contemporaries who contributed to the undertaking you’re attempting to preview. And so to discourage their mates, fam, and even collaborators from chit-chatting whereas they pull again the Boyega curtain for the primary time, STL GLD stitched collectively a hodgepodge of movie clips and scattershot photos to play together with the music. And it really works; most likely additionally on account of anticipation together with no matter weed and beer buzzes folks introduced into the dimly lit sound stage, all of us stand mesmerized because the audio system and large display mild up.
I gained’t overinterpret the visuals; whereas some tracks just like the Darlingside-assisted “Shimmer” align with shorts they are going to really launch for particular person songs, all I’ll say concerning the filler eye sweet that STL GLD provides us to ogle is that it retains panning to the sky—its magnificence, its boundlessness, its infinite mild and darkness alike. Which is all becoming since we’re hovering instantly, the primary two tracks tumbling by way of torrents of emotion; regardless of being so fascinating that it rings like a well-known battle cry, “Resisting” uncorks cellars stuffed with red-eyed outrage, whereas the opening “There I Am” with Jared Evan seems like escaping a dungeon, presumably after a COVID lockdown, and operating headfirst right into a towering wall of sunshine. It’s blinding, however we’ve seasoned guides in Moe Pope and his bandmates. I crack one other beer and buckle up.
“Burgundy Cement” with the intriguing Ed Ballon and Dua Boakye from Unhealthy Rabbits bumps up the belligerence, adopted by Moe taking a fast breather on “Default” over a lightweight pluck from Chris Klaxton. Then comes “AB” with Cliff Notez, a siren and my favourite minimize on the document up to now. The group appears to agree; the monitor has wings however coasts shut sufficient to the carpet to attach on Cliff’s eclectic contours. It’s official, STL GLD is again with a complete bunch of bonzer bangers.
Each musician has a narrative about how the pandemic knocked their hustle, from bands being deserted on the street mid-tour to dropping offers lengthy within the making. Little question STL GLD was comparably screwed, nonetheless their trajectory has been neither exponential nor linear, however reasonably an artistically liberating freewheeling journey. The pandemic might have delivered them in any variety of instructions, and many people would have been desperate to comply with them wherever. I consider the quilt of their 2017 masterpiece Torch Music, a guttural glimpse of a nation operating from its previous and posturing towards progress whereas chasing its personal violent tail. However this trip, maybe much more than earlier than, as a substitute of merely swinging torches at monsters du jour who fire up worry, Moe and co provide evergreen allegories that apply to hatemongers in modern-day Mass as a lot as they do forces of evil overseas, with STL GLD scream machine Christopher Talken proper there hollering the purpose dwelling.
All through the evening, the band leads, and as typical, we comply with. And hear. It’s certainly one of their emblems: a few of the locations STL GLD has led the scene to, just like the Museum of Positive Arts the place they launched their 2019 album The New Regular amongst portraits of visibly disapproving Founding Fathers, have marked main milestones for hip-hop within the Hub. Boston Calling was one other one; together with the likes of Oompa, Cousin Stizz, and Cliff Notez who’ve made appearances, their efficiency on the competition in 2018 confirmed that it’s potential for native acts to advance in a metropolis lengthy infamous for hobbling its personal. As for what they’ve completed with that place and the place they’re main others, that’s a narrative they’re nonetheless writing.
On Rock Boyega, the band boldly steps into the long run with the brightest of Boston beside them. “The Artwork of Birdwatching” with Latrell James follows the catchy but decidedly non formulaic fluency of making an attempt new stunts sans discounting accessibility, and of streamlining a number of sounds—core member Tim Corridor’s horn, RVRSR’s guitar chicken chirps—right into a singular profitable thought. The intense but anthemic “Colours,” with its star flip from a uncooked and unapologetic Oompa, is one other spotlight, as is “Thug” with Brandie Blaze. Moe’s various flows match intelligent and didactic physique blows from each, with all steadily boxing by way of the Black expertise over the Arcitype and STL GLD percussionist Jonathan Ulman’s lovely but bumpy backdrops.
Issues start to loosen up additional down the tracklist, and about 10 seconds into the beachworthy “Caterpillars” with chill Najee Janey, somebody breaks a silence that seemingly lasted by way of three prior songs and walks throughout the room for a recent seltzer. Shit’s been reasonably severe in right here however now it’s a celebration, even when we’re all nonetheless silent and glued to the display as Rock Boyega wraps. My jaw hits the ground as “Alerts,” an all-Moe meditation on his place amongst mortals, slides by way of an interlude after which proper into “Shimmer,” the icing on the greatness. It took a major pandemic whereas, however the gang has conquered but once more.
When it’s over, I ask the blokes how they’ve been obtained past the Bay State, if their distinctive paths of rhythm have led to fan bases elsewhere. I’ve performed STL GLD for mates from everywhere in the world, and the response has been common marvel, even amazement that one thing so genuinely hip-hop and notably new however untethered to silly traits might have evaded them. Judging by their response to the query although, the group has had some issue resonating outdoors of their dwelling state, presumably on account of their mainly abandoning their rather more primary increase bap vibe from early on.
Whereas I normally selfishly decide on seeing distinctive Mass artists make a large however however regional splash, stepping out of the Bridge Sound and Stage, I’m sure that STL GLD’s latest must be heard all the way in which from sea to sea. Rock Boyega represents a few of the greatest that Boston has to supply; folks in all places ought to hear this, however to ensure that that to lastly occur, first the band will want your undivided consideration.
STL GLD Rock Boyega release party with 7L&Esoteric, Najee Janey & ToriTori @ the Paradise Rock Club, Thursday, Nov. 10