Hip-hop group STL GLD (pronounced “Still Gold”) has become a staple in the Boston music scene in recent years. Their sophomore project “The Torch Song” was named “Album Of The Year” at the 2017 Boston Music Awards, and in 2018 they capitalized on that honor by taking home “Live Artist Of The Year” thanks to their uniquely captivating performances.
The rapper/producer duo consists of Moe Pope and The Arcitype, but drummer Jonathan Ulman and vocalist Christopher Talken are also heavily involved. The root of the group’s success is their undeniable talent combined with their urgent (often politically driven) message. Since becoming a household name in the Boston area, emcee Moe Pope has used his platform to try and make hip-hop more well-respected as an art. Here’s what he said back in 2014 when he sat down with WBUR and discussed Boston’s stubbornness in accepting the genre:
“There’s not many venues for me to play or to do my craft, even with all the accolades that we’ve gotten, I can barely get the right shows here. They won’t book me. Here, being Boston. Because I’m a hip-hop artist. And that comes with ‘violence,’ or it comes with something else. What’s inside of their mind, that’s what they think. You go to any club in this city and they play hip-hop. But yet, hip-hop musicians are not allowed to play inside of their club, you know? So, what does that mean, exactly? I don’t know.”
In 2016, the New England Music Awards decided to completely remove the hip-hop category from their nominations. Moe Pope was quick to speak out:
“I’m not sure most people know that hip-hop isn’t allowed at most venues, so there is only a few places we are allowed to perform,” he told Vanyaland. “I’m speaking out because as a hip-hop artist I know how little people think of our art, it’s getting to the point the disrespect level needs to be talked about.”
After years of struggling to land gigs in Boston because of the stigma connected to hip-hop, Moe Pope and his band took home “Live Artist Of The Year” for 2018 at the most prestigious music award ceremony in New England. In other words, he and his band single-handedly fought to lift that stigma by perfecting their craft and becoming incredibly talented live performers, proving that live hip-hop can be an elite form of entertainment.
Pope touched on this in an Instagram post after receiving the BMA back in December:
“I can’t tell you how many times I have heard ‘I don’t like going to HipHop shows they’re boring’ over the years …. crazy insulting or hearing the words ‘we don’t book HipHop too violent’ always an excuse as to why this beautiful culture is less than other music in this city …. well HipHop took live artist of the year for the second year in a row … that is not a diss to the other genres at all….I love all music and I am a fan of all the bands in this category….but it is facts.”
STL GLD didn’t drop any full-length projects in 2018 but they released a few singles and continued to move crowds in New England and beyond, sharing a stage with Eminem, The Roots, and Khalid. Moe Pope also teamed up with another Boston producer, Lightfoot Beats, to form Childhood Love Stories. Their debut “CHLS” is available everywhere.
In 2019, STL GLD is back in full force with a new album and an innovative way to push the hip-hop culture forward. The Museum of Fine Arts is the fifth largest art museum in the United States. Hip-hop is one of the most prominent art forms in the world. Still, hip-hop exhibits have been hard to come by at the MFA. That was until STL GLD premiered their latest offering “The New Normal” to a select audience at the museum in January:
The album’s features shed light on the amount of talent in the Boston area. Boston’s Ghost GRL, Oompa, Will Dailey, Latrell James, Deon Chase, Ab Soarin, and Cliff Notez all had notable appearances, as well as Claire Whall from Framingham.
Features outside of Massachusetts came from New York legends Heltah Skeltah, fellow New Yorkers Jared Evan and Nina Lee, and Georgia-born Berklee graduate Julia Easterlin.
As he often does, Moe Pope speaks on the current political climate and the challenges it presents. As someone who grew up poor in Roxbury and spent a lot of time taking in his surroundings and trying to make sense of everything he saw, his perspective is extremely important. Listen to “The New Normal” as soon as you can.
Follow Jack Bardsley on Twitter @BostonsBigFour