A month before Philadelphia poet-turned-rapper STS (Sugar Tongue Slim) released his debut album The Illustrious as a free download, CoS premiered a slew of album tracks. And while those cuts were enjoyable, it wasn’t until the whole album became available for consumption that the most dominant theme of the young rapper’s career become obvious. In a world decidedly split between conscious rhymes and verses touting cars and girls, STS has found the start of something big by riding the vast space between both styles.
The 16-track effort acts as a manifesto for STS’s chosen moral code, one he’s summed up with the acronym G.O.L.D.: GentleMen of Leisure & Development. Catchiness aside, it’s a righteous path where changing the world for the better and being an expressive person goes hand-in-hand with being an emotionally-vacant materialist. From the wacky and informative “The Interview” to the bumping personal diary entry of “WWW”, STS can be both wise, weary wordsmith and ghetto fabulous pimp almost simultaneously. Expressions across the emotional spectrum– from the sweet and wholesome trod of “Hello Sunshine” to the resilient and anthemic “Here Tonight” and even the comedic gem that is “Gold Mayfield Skit”– are all equally at home and with shared levels of relevance. Though the album bounces back and forth in terms of general worldview, STS’s inventive rhymes and ultra-shiny swagger form the glue that holds the LP together.
Though the G.O.L.D. thing may prove to be yet another rap gimmick, STS’s debut makes the best of the confines that declaration creates with a heaping helping of solid rap tunes that truly run the gamut. While the rap universe may be split into two warring factions, the sugar-tongued one proves here that independence and diversity are worth their weight in gold.