Boston’s STL GLD launches hip-hop fest
10-hour festival honors a rich musical tradition, local artists
The Boston born hip-hop group STL GLD will celebrate the inaugural GLD FSTVL (pronounced gold festival) on Saturday, a 10-hour homage to the local and national hip-hop scenes.
Created in collaboration with Mayor Michelle Wu’s Office of Arts and Culture and BID Worldwide, the festival Saturday will highlight the value of local talent and growth among artists in Boston while also marking the 50th anniversary of hip-hop music and culture.
Moe Pope, founding member of STL GLD and a Roxbury native, recalls attending free concerts at City Hall in his childhood. Those memories inspired the GLD FSTVL, which will take place at City Hall Plaza, free and open to the public. Pope hopes the festival will have a similar effect, bringing the community together for good music and a celebration of local talent.
“There’s a lot of obstacles these hip-hop artists had to go through for many years, not being allowed to play at certain venues, not being paid properly, the lack of respect for Black art, period,” Pope said. “A lot of people take their talents elsewhere when you’re not celebrated.”
That exodus has plagued the Boston artistic scene for decades, particularly in music. Artists move to New York City or Los Angeles in search of broader opportunities due to both real limitations and the perception that Boston, as a small city, can’t foster career growth. STL GLD is out to write a new narrative.
GLD FSTVL emphasizes the importance and value of local artists and the hip-hop genre. The lineup features mostly local performers such as STL GLD, Billy Dean Thomas, Van Buren, The Hip Hop Transformation, Latrell James, Kei and Oompa, with a few national exceptions including EarthGang and Dead Prez. Diversity was important in the selection, and though the festival will have artists of all backgrounds, the Black roots of hip-hop are well noted.
“We [want] to also make sure that we’re hitting multigenerational demographics and communities within hip-hop,” said STL GLD member Tim Hall. “It’s truly about a celebration of hip-hop, the culture and the impact.”
In addition to providing the artists with a platform, GLD FSTVL is compensating artists on a much larger scale than other festivals, including Boston Calling, Pope said. The goal is to show local talents that they are as valued and valuable as the big-name headliners touring through Boston.
GLD FSTVL runs from noon-10pm Saturday at City Hall Plaza with live performances, local DJs spinning hip-hop tracks and a marketplace of small local businesses. Food trucks will also be on-site to fuel the party.
“I hope folks leave absolutely exhausted and enthralled from the evening that they had,” Val Bee, founder of BID Worldwide, said. “I want them to see the power that that exists in this community.”