Souls of Hip Hop

Rob Stull

November 03, 2020 Rob Stull Season 1 Episode 11
Souls of Hip Hop
Rob Stull
Chapters
0:48
How would your parents describe what you do?
5:04
Influence of Hip Hop
7:56
Adventures with Phase2
13:53
Becoming a professional artist
20:23
Advice for upcoming artists
24:47
Is technology replacing mentorship?
28:12
The importance of hip hop culture on comics
32:43
Mass Rock Against Racism
38:32
Museum of Fine Arts Residency
49:54
How do you balance it all?
53:01
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
58:52
What is Hip Hop to you?
Souls of Hip Hop
Rob Stull
Nov 03, 2020 Season 1 Episode 11
Rob Stull

In this episode we interview Rob Stull. Rob is a Comic Book Industry Veteran who has worked for every major publisher, a teacher, a Museum of Fine Arts Boston Artist-in-Residence, and an Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Luminary.
 
We chat about how he got into the comic book industry, the influence of hip hop culture, advice for upcoming artists, adventures with Phase2, and becoming the first local artist to receive a residency from the museum of fine arts.

You can find Rob here:
www.robstull.com 
www.instagram.com/robstull24 
www.twitter.com/RobStull24 
www.facebook.com/iamrobstull 
www.mfa.org/exhibition/writing-the-future 
https://openarchives.umb.edu/digital/collection/p15774coll41 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/soulsofhiphop)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode we interview Rob Stull. Rob is a Comic Book Industry Veteran who has worked for every major publisher, a teacher, a Museum of Fine Arts Boston Artist-in-Residence, and an Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Luminary.
 
We chat about how he got into the comic book industry, the influence of hip hop culture, advice for upcoming artists, adventures with Phase2, and becoming the first local artist to receive a residency from the museum of fine arts.

You can find Rob here:
www.robstull.com 
www.instagram.com/robstull24 
www.twitter.com/RobStull24 
www.facebook.com/iamrobstull 
www.mfa.org/exhibition/writing-the-future 
https://openarchives.umb.edu/digital/collection/p15774coll41 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/soulsofhiphop)

Unknown:

Welcome to Souls of Hip Hop, a podcast for hip hop heads that aims to bring inspiring people together to share their wisdom, passion, and unique stories. My name is Candy, and I'm DJ Razor Cut. And together we are Soulidarity, connecting souls organically. On today's show, we welcome Rob Stull. Rob is a comic book industry veteran who has worked for every major publisher. He is also a teacher, a Museum of Fine Arts Boston artist in residence, and an Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum luminary. Thank you so much for joining us and jumping on our podcast. How would your parents describe what you do? An artist, really. Just artists - that sums it up perfectly. There were so many artists in my family, you know, my uncle's taught art, one uncle was a ceramicist. Another uncle was a drawing instructor, a drawing professor, my father's an architect, retired architect. Everybody just did art. So growing up, it wasn't like an unusual kind of thing. It was always around. You know, everybody was always doing something. So I was predisposed to it. You know, I was introduced to it at such a young age, it was just a natural kind of thing. Visual Art. What was Boston like during your childhood? When I was a kid, I was really quiet, really quiet and shy. And I remember I went to this school that I hated. And it had you guys probably don't remember the little school buses, like the station wagon school buses that would pick you up? You guys remember those? Or am I dating myself? No, I didn't think so. So they would pull the kids that that took that ride with me. That would just terrorize you. And I was such a quiet, shy kid. I hated that school bus ride. It wasn't even a school bus. It was just like a station wagon. It had little school bus sign on the top of it. But I remember drawing like images from that experience going to that school. So it wasn't like it was a converted warehouse. I don't even remember what part of Boston it was. I just know that I hated it. But it left an undeniable impression on me. Because it's I think in in a lot of ways, it woke up a lot of that creative energy. But that's, that's going back as as far as I can remember growing up. I was living in Boston, sort of close to Kenmore square area. In the Back Bay. This is before the Back Bay was like impossible to live financially. It was actually affordable. It was a lower rent district. Nobody ever believes that. But it was it was it was kind of affordable back then. But I actually went to public school in Brookline. And that was a positive experience, What made it positive? That's when I started meeting people. That kind of contributed, I would say to the shaping and forming of my character, you start meeting people that are into the same things that you are, you know, things like that. That's when I really got into hip hop. I was always a comic book head though. comic books were there from kindergarten. So I was always a comic book head, you know, me and some of my classmates in grade school. It's funny, like, I think creative people, we sort of gravitate to people that are sort of have like an like minded interest. So I had like, most of my immediate friends were artistically inclined. So we would basically do our version of whatever the popular comic books that we like, or that we read, and we would do like knockoff versions and create our own characters and our own comic books and things like that, too. But by high school, that's when I started meeting people, the unique dominoes, floor lords, and other graffiti artists. It wasn't like we were all I know, for me, it wasn't like I was focused on one specific aspect or element of the culture. It was just the culture all together. You know, we were just all into hip hop. And then there were people that did several different things. There was some people that I met that did graffiti, a DJ, that break they will be boys. So what's that kind of thing? And it just kind of happened. It just sort of evolved out of out of thin air almost. But it wasn't like it was presented to us. You know what I mean? And I think it's because I experienced it when I was so young, you know, wasn't like this is hip hop. It just sort of gradually kind of came into our lives. Like what you said about you know, meeting other creative people and I believe hip hop is one of those cultures that allows people to express themselves. And why a lot of creative people gravitate towards it. How did that experience of meeting the people in the culture getting involved in it? How did that influence you as a person? Influence?! it completely dominated my life. So I just backtrack a little bit, you know, if you're fortunate enough to go to a good school, and the faculty there, they take interest in the students, like there's a kid that excels in sports, or is no good at acting or track or whatever it is, then they will take an interest in that student and try to help nurture sort of this unrefined ability or talent that's there. So that's what the faculty and pretty much teachers throughout my school career did, because I always excelled in art, and visual art, I could always draw real good. So they started pushing me in that direction. And I knew, by the time I was 13, that I wanted to do something in Visual Arts, but professionally. So then I had teachers in high school, and probably as early as my freshman year, saying, you know, if you want a career in art, you have to look into like graphic design, or advertising or commercial art or something that's lucrative. So that's kind of where my head was at. But then I always had these outside interests, like I had the comic book, Jones that was always there. And then I was meeting, and then hip hop just completely came in and dominated. And this is sort of like the nylon, tracksuit era. So if I wasn't up in the art room, and that was the other thing, you know, the art teachers would give me assignments that were independent of the regular classroom curriculum, because I excelled in art. And there were maybe a handful of other students that had similar opportunities. But if I wasn't up in the art room, which I was there most of the time, and I was in front of the cafeteria. Somebody had it radio gone, and we were you know, getting it in. Yeah, I always joked on it. Whenever I'm around the you know, or, or nyeem, or born, or any of those, those pioneering dancers for Boston? I would always say, Yeah, I would dance, but I'll kind of keep it like off to the side. Or, you know, they dominated the club scene back then. Lansdowne was like, you know, that was their home. So you could fuck around if you were in there with your with your people. If the floorboards came through, he just stopped immediately. Go do a little something stopping. But now, you guys was the defining moment for Boston. Can you share any of the adventures you had with Rocky and Track your old Saab? How do you know about that? Who have you been talking to? bumping that Cypress Hill? Wow. Wow. Yeah, those were adventures. Man, I remember one time, you just mentioned phase two before we started, and we did the show, we did an A-wall show with Catro, Click one and Phase2. And I remember I think the first time I met phase was in New York, at you know where the population is. So they used to have like, all kinds of events. It was right across the street from Keith herrings old shop, the pop shop up there and there was like this new designer. I think his clothing line was called to hide or something like that. I think some of the girls in positive case video have a positive K. Yeah. I got a man or something like that. What's your man got to do with me? I think one of the girls he was trying to rap to pat on the too high gear. So he was doing like a was a new designer. And he was he was doing like a runway a traditional runway show. So I had linked up with Cato. When I got to town and I met phase and you know phase did the magazine The it times. So he gave me a magazine and I was hustling t shirts. I did a T shirt on my own where I did a lot of recognizable or historical figures within you know, civil rights movement. So I had a Marcus Garvey t shirt and upon Marley t shirt, Nelson Mandela t shirt, etc, etc, etc. So I just gave him some t shirts and he gave me a couple of the magazine and it was just like instant. And then when we did the show in Boston, it was at a gallery. This is way before that area down. downtown Boston, you know, Rose Wharf. That's all like super expensive. Now, this is back when that area was sort of being developed. So they had there was a small little gallery man, everybody in their mother was trying to get into that show. I don't want to put click on class, because he he needs it when we talk about him, because he's that he doesn't really do the art stuff anymore, which is a travesty. But I leave him out of it for the sake of, of this conversation and just, you know, extending to him his proper respect. But it blew my mind that phase was even part of my show. So I remember he came into town with Vulcan. And I was in the back. Because we were it was an AWOL show, but the only three artists but the whole crew was there. But the only three artists that we were showcasing, were like I said, Katro Phase2 and click and phase had all of these pieces that were done, just like black and white, like a white board. And then he did almost like would look to me, like Sharpie magic marker. But it was so intricate. And it almost looked like it was freestyle right off the top of his head. And he was nailing these pieces to actual frames. So I was helping him nail and put frames around his work to be showcased in our show. So that's a memory never gonna let go of, you know, that guy was like, I mean to be, who he is, and what he represents for the culture and to be able to call him a friend. That's huge for me, you know, but then after I knew him, he was just like anybody that you know, that's a friend, but really wouldn't figure within the culture for sure. You saw how I just kind of avoided the Saab stories. I saw that. No need to incriminate yourself. Fun times. Have fun time. We went to a De la Soul concert. De la Soul came to Waltham, Brandeis, Brandeis. And we were pushing that show I just shared with you about we have flyers. And I remember handing Maceo a flyer and Maceo connected Phase2 right away. And then he asked me for a couple more. So you can hand them to somebody is bored. But they did. They went from wherever they were performing on campus. To some somebody in the crowd said after party. It's so and so true. In that whole crowd, wherever they were performing on campus is this one story the one story I'll tell you, they came in extended on this poor girl's dorm room. So then a party, somebody got some some commandeered some turntables. They went in and it was packed. And it spilled out into the lawn. And and they were all there just chopping it up like regular people are there they were all they're just kind of surreal. But that's kind of what what the vibe was back then. He just kind of found your way to things. And and everybody was sort of an extension by association. So nobody looked at anybody weird, like, like you trying to hang on or whatever. You know, we were all just by association. So it was just a real natural kind of organic kind of thing. What year was that? I had to have been early 90s. Because that's when the show was and we were we were promoting it like crazy. That was the other thing. We had a whole bunch of people from New York that came through to, you know, just on, you know, good faith was there. volken was there it's probably a whole lot of other people there that I didn't realize were there. So, yeah, that had to have been 91 ancient history. How does the kid in high school who loves comics now transition to working with a major comic book publisher? I had no plan at all. All I had was like the positive examples within my family. Because my family we we see so many people within the family did art. We have a lot of that part hanging up on the walls, you know, in the houses that we grew up in a good amount of that was our by my uncles, and then Friends of the family. So I think by the time I was a teenager, it evolved into more friends of the family. They were also artists from the community by Paul Good night, Napoleon Jones, Henderson, Nelson Stephens name, the Chandler, B'nai nevolin, etc, etc. So, these are all people that I had access to through my parents. So that even more so reinforced that notion of Okay, this is something I know I want to do, and to have that that resource, you know, to have them be assessable to me, was everything to me. So I didn't really Have a plan. I just knew I wanted to do with it. Because it looked cool. To me that was success. You know, I aspired to have my art hanging on somebody's wall one day. So those are the examples I had. You weren't like, you know, I didn't aspire to be anything outside of that. I kept it real simple. And then it wasn't until, like you said, I got older, and really started to question what I wanted to do with my life. And then I had those thoughtful teachers try to guide me in the right directions. So I would say, when I graduated high school, I knew based on the suggestions of my teachers in high school, that if I was going to remain local, that I needed to look into either mass art or museum school. And I had one teacher, in particular missense. She said, she just really sold me on museum school, I don't even remember what she was saying, or why it was so important to her that I go there. But I went there. And I'm glad I went there. Because that's when I got connected with rocklea, DS seven, Dave Taylor. That's when I met. That's when I met a whole lot of people who have remained friends with me to this day, but immediately, so I went through art school, as a graphic design and illustration major. So the second I graduated, I was trying to get into the workforce and make a living. So I interviewed an ad firm, that's no longer around. I don't think they're around anymore Hill holiday. And they were in the top of Hancock Tower, and Hill holiday, and they were worldwide. They were in Germany, they were in Japan, they were in Paris, and they were here in Boston, and I interviewed. But I had also started sort of poking my nose around in the comic book industry. Because I have a natural drawn ability, I always felt like that's something that I can do. And there were friends of mine that were at school. And we're going to places like svga in New York, Parsons or Pratt Reis de, and they would get a little pickup jobs here and there, little fill ins for Marvel. So I send you I can do that too. Long story short, I was waiting to hear back from a Marvel editor on what's called a one shot. And if I asked you, what do you think that means? What do you think that means? You got one chance to draw it big? No? Well, not one chance. But it's one assignment. It's nothing. But I was like, Well, I can take that one shot and parlay that into regular work, because you know, I'm just that dope. So, but I was waiting to hear back from that editor. So petal holiday offered me whatever I wanted to do, whether that be freelance part time, full time, whatever. And I heard back from that Marvel editor right away. And I decided to pass on the lucrative aspects of full time employment with dental benefits, and health insurance is not that good stuff, to do this Marvel thing, because that was always, you know, that was in my heart ever since I was a kid. So I had to see it through to see if I could do it. So that's kind of how it started. I gave myself what I call self imposed deadlines, because I wanted I knew I needed to make a living and a one shot wasn't gonna do it. So I wanted to give myself a year to kind of learn the mechanics of the industry. Because as much as I thought I knew, I didn't know a whole lot about the business of comic books. I mean, I could draw real good, but so could hundreds of others in the industry. So I wanted to kind of arm myself with as much information as I could, and then give myself a year to turn it into something full time and lucrative. If I took more, I figured if I took more time than a year, and I'm wasting my time, when I could just go back to your holiday and have full time employment. There are so many years later, I took the comic book leap of faith, and I enjoyed a career like two decades long in Congress, you know, and I kind of took vacations and time off when I wanted to. I sort of the nature of that industry. It's all freelance and you know, you have contractual arrangements, you know, that come about, but it's all what you can hustle. You know, they pay you by and negotiate everything and you can go shoot your page rate, negotiate how much money it's all really dependent. upon you, and how hard you hustle, it's gonna determine how lucrative it's going to be for you. So I loved everything about it. I love when I was busy working hard, real hard to stay busy. That's when my hustle was the most severe when I was like, busy working around the clock. So that's, that's how it started. And now after two decades of experience, if you could give your younger self that was starting out that year of self limit, one piece of advice, what would you tell yourself? Great question, I think I would tell my younger self, or would have tried to do both, I would have tried to do the advertising, and the comic books on the side. But I think at that age, and at that time in my life, I just wanted to, like dump everything into comics, you know, because it was more like I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. And I wanted to deal with it, to do it, on my own terms, and by my own definition, so I didn't want any outside interference or distractions. I think that's why I focus solely on that. But then the other side of that, and this is kind of the way I'm wired is I wasn't comfortable with just one comic book assignment. So I had to make sure I had other things on the side. And I worked hard to make sure there's other things were laid out of studio out there. And that's when we did a whole lot of cool things and music. You know, we hooked up with different record labels to do our covers and CD cover art, things like that. But we I always had something else going on in the background. I didn't feel comfortable if I didn't. As an artist, have you ever had a time where you felt censored? No. I mean, not centered censored in a traditional sense, I would say. But if you're working on like for Marvel, or DC, and you're working on pre established characters, then there's sort of like a format that you have to create within. And that's for good reason. You know, you don't want to alienate the fan base. And you want to do right by that character. And I think when I first broke into the industry, it was a big deal to be able to say I, you know, I worked on Spider Man or X-Men or Batman or whatever. But then after so many years, for me anyway, that wasn't enough anymore. Because I'm saying, that's cool. But I don't own any of those characters. Somebody else owns all of that stuff, I want to do my own thing. And I think every creator that works in comics, after certain amount of investment of so many years, it's just natural to question diseases, I could do this, I could do my own thing, you know, and then you start sort of setting it out or laying that groundwork to try your own projects. And I started doing that, I would say when I was still living in New York, so that's almost 20 years ago, I'm still doing it now. But then I also had a real desire to teach. And a lot of my peers that were pursuing a career in comics, at the same time, I was, they wouldn't comics broke for me, and didn't for them, they went into teaching. So now there have just as much investment in teaching, as I do in, you know, working professional art and in comics. So it's kind of like, I've always been a person where I give any discipline, the respect that it deserves. I didn't want to just wake up one morning and say, Okay, now I want to be a teacher. And think, Okay, I know, enough teachers, you know, so I should be able to do that same thing with comic books, I thought I knew enough about comic books to say, Okay, I know what that's involved with what that's required to do that stuff. And I should be able to do that. But then there was a whole ton of information that I didn't know, just about, like I said before, like the business side of it, and the mechanics of it. So teaching was the same thing I didn't want to, and this is where I guess my young self meets up with my little bit older self, we kind of sort of remember again, where I'm saying this time, I don't want to abandon one for the other, I can still do the art and do the teaching thing. And that's kind of where I am right now. You know, not a whole lot has changed, and so many years, but I really enjoy teaching. I see so many I teach young kids. So I see a lot of myself, in them that energy and that and that just fuels me and inspires me. I feel technology has replaced a mentor disciple connection for young artists. Yeah, I would agree. I would agree. And I come from that kind of generation. So I'm always I'm like a walking throwback. I always try to, to reintroduce it. It's like a sensibility, like hip hop is just as much of an attitude, and a sensibility that for individuals like ourselves, who we've we've lived it. So it's, it's so much a part of who we are, that we can't help but infuse it and incorporate it in everything that we do. So it's in the way that I relate to these kids. And they're not even conscious of it. Sometimes, as it's, it's a deliberate attempt on my part, but other times is totally unconscious. So, technology, for most of us, I would say, it enhances what we do. I never want to be a slave to it, in a lot of ways. I'm a dinosaur, in my thinking, because I like to fall back to traditional methods of problem solving, and trying to get people engaged. But I think getting young people excited. In the same way, we got excited when we were introduced to the culture that ensures the continued evolution of the culture that ensures that it can continue to, to live, but you have to get them engaged first, they got to get turned on by it in the same way that we got turned on by it. And then then they become inspired. And they have to know the real, they can't get misguided and Miss screwed information. And I think that's when people again, like ourselves, it's almost like a responsibility, where self care, all that stuff on the radio or on TV, just just forget about that for a minute. Come hang out with me and listen to what I got to say. I think those core elements, they resonate with every generation, if they're introduced to it in the right way. I'm a firm believer of that. Because coming from the world of comic books, like I'll call myself an artist, and storyteller, that's how I refer to myself. I'm a, I'm an artist, and a storyteller. And if you think about how expressive hip hop is, from all of the elements, it's all storytelling, if you think about it, and that's how I present it to young people. I don't know any young person who doesn't have vivid imagination. I mean, when I was 12, 13, my mind was all over the place. And that's most kids. So you just have to give them license to say, okay, all of those crazy rockets going off inside your head. That's cool. And let me show you how to channel that and direct that to a place in a way where it's positive. I think if we all of back to those elements, or those those aspects of the culture that really, that we really fell in love with. It was that it was something that innocent and that pure, you know, they grabbed ahold of us. You're teaching a course on the importance of hip hop culture and African American culture on comics. Yeah, I did a workshop at BU in 2015, called connection, because comic books are social commentary. And they've always been social commentary. But do you think rap music rap music is the same thing, music in general. And let's toss around some names. songwriters, like really good songwriters like john lennon, or Stevie Wonder, or Bob Marley or Bob Dylan? Hendrix. I mean, the list goes on and on, especially Dylan, and Marley. And guys from the 60s, you remember the protest songs that were protesting the Vietnam War, just a precursor to the conscious rap. It came about in the 80s, like when you had like, native tongues, ex clan, even de la, the jungle brothers, black sheep. I mean, it's like they were all for gangstar. They were all from that era, where they were talking about something that was socially relevant post, they were also politically conscious. A lot of people got educated by listening to rap records that would be remiss if I didn't mention Public Enemy to slip. But so many other examples brand new being so all that is is an extension of the protest songs. And our Vietnam was like that for that first Desert Storm war, that first Cold War back in the 80s, or whatever it was, and we got a myriad of different examples present day that we could draw from. So again, thanks Use that artists do the artistic license to talk about what they see. Because what they see is what all of us see, you know, it's not a one one sided kind of thing. They're not talking about champagne and diamonds and chicks and Spence, rims or whatever, they're talking about things that are affecting everybody. So what I did with the workshop was, I made that comparison, like I juxtapose comic books as being social commentary. As far back as like, there was an underground comics movement, you talk about censorship, that's why they will call underground for a reason. I mean, anyway, like, whether it was the subject matter was just too raunchy, you know, in the form of like, overtly sexual, or real harsh criticism of the war, or whatever it was, it was not from mainstream. So they develop their own audience. And in doing so they created their own platform. So I wanted the students to be you to think about how they can connect music, and visual art. And it was teaching them the basic fundamentals of comic books, but a natural understanding of basic drawing fundamentals was required. Because I didn't want to waste a whole lot of time, trying to teach people how to draw, I wanted people that already knew how to draw to come in there so that they have that. And then we could really dive into some of the possibilities of how they can infuse music and visual art, to tell a story that would bring the world together. That would be a vehicle for connection, and peace. And all that's it. I mean, it sounds kind of corny, but if you think about it, it's a basic, fundamental commonality that we all share globally as a planet. Yeah, and it went over real good. Yeah, I'm always I'm always looking to different ways of expression, but then also pushing the things that I love, also, like, I'm a product of hip hop. But then I also have this deep love and respect for comic book industry. And the whole language of sequential art, not only as a teaching tool, but but as an art form, unnecessary art form, and an incredibly credible teaching tool. So that's what that was about. Mass rock against racism just celebrated their 40th anniversary this year. Can you tell us more about this movement? so more ancient history. That's another good example, though. This is like Boston, when I was coming up, it was very segregated. And, I mean, I had friends that might have lived in South Boston or Charles town or wherever, but I knew enough not to be in those neighborhoods after dark. And in certain areas, you know, back then, you know, in Dorchester, Roxbury, mattapan, certain white folk not to be in those areas. You know, there was the whole busing thing. And you guys may have, you know, heard about the whole busing thing in Boston. I didn't personally experience it. But I had friends that were my age that so you have a program, like ra or match rock against racism, man, that was like a godsend for so many of us kids. And that's how a lot of us met New Kids on the Block before they were the new kids on the block. A little hip hop kids, man, they dance, you know, especially Danny. He did that in the hip hop label called damage records. T Max was his first artists that was signed to the label and I do the logo. But they had like this little office at UMass Boston downtown, right across from Park Plaza. That was just like a meeting place. They had one area of the room that has been oleum down. And they had another corner of the room that had the turntable setup. And you had all the writers over here in their black books. It was like a sanctuary and no judgment. And these kids came from every corner of the city. They they were from Roxbury. They were from Quincy. It was from southie. They were from Brookline. They were from Newton, Somerville. And none of that mattered. It was that sort of like we were talking about earlier that association. You know, we were all connected to an extended family. We just didn't realize it until we walked through that door. And then we realized it. And there was something for everybody. And that was like my favorite place in the world. To hang out it, we didn't even know what we were doing was so important as it translates to the landscape of the city at that time. And what we were doing as kids, we were serious change agents. If you think about it, you know what we were laying down for future generations to follow. We had no idea the might, maybe a little bit, but we really didn't realize the impact and the significance of what we were doing. We did shows but major shout out to Fran Smith, and Ruby Garrett's follow me bigger follow was an actual teacher at UMass. And Fran Smith was a student, a teaching student. So Fran, really wasn't that much older than we were. I mean, she was probably 20. And we were like, 1314. But they taught us how to, like work together, you know, and respect each other, independent of what area of the city from what suburb or whatever has taught us how to, like create, together, you know, all in the name of art, or art slash hip hop. You know that. I mean, I met so many people that are, I would say, significant contributors to the culture of hip hop here in Boston. And then it's funny, Fran tells this story about how guys like Leno and the Lord's and born from the Domino's, they wanted to be able to do shows with us, you know, with with AR AR, and Fran made them audition just like everybody else. And I don't I don't know if Leto was offended. But I know based on friends stories, that Bourne was like, I'm not edition in for anything unique Domino Domino's, and we're not all over the place. And then you probably heard of HBO homeboys only. Yeah. I mean, all of that was happening at the same time. So that was like the city was electric back then. But we as kids really changed that whole segregation, racial dynamic that existed. And looking back on it now. It was powerful. The stuff that you know, brought Run DMC the town, had some some of these are AR kids opening up for Run DMC I mean, never. And I mean, Run DMC was at the top of their, they were in their prime back then. So the channel they had they hosted a lot of rock shows. And, but that that was major. That was major as history right there. But get a podium before your birthday celebration. That was beautiful. That was beautiful. It was sort of like a an offshoot of this archiving event that we had the previous year where we did a through UMass Amherst, and the Healy library, and mass hip hop archive. A shout out to Pacey Forrester, he documented a lot of material from an artifacts from just not just us coming up. But anybody, they opened the doors to the community, and anybody that had stuff that would be significant to add to the archive. So now that's part of their permanent and archive. Yeah, the last time we saw each other in person was at the 40th anniversary of RAR. Yeah, I saw so many people I hadn't seen in years. So you have a new residency at the MFA. Can you describe what what that means? Yeah, that's really, that's a real cool project. And this started prior to COVID. I feel like COVID-19 came through and completely derailed everybody's hopes and dreams all over the world. So they did the same thing with our residency. But we have been resilient in the moment. And we're soldiering forward. So we are going to have a physical opening at the end of this year. I don't know what it's gonna look like yet. Because you can see when people start to get back to reopening, and you're seeing cases of the virus starting to spike again. Any idiot could have said what's going to happen. But I digress. But yeah, last May, pro black, Rob Gibbs. He has a neuro series called breathe life. So he's got a real beautiful mural in Dorchester. But the little boy, what I love about this, this brother's work, and I've known him for a long time. I think the beautiful thing about Boston and our sort of history of being connected from from generation to generation is when when we had a wall RS without limits. We were just kids hanging out, but we all shared a common interest. You know, we all really had this Jones to do art and Just due to really great art, and, and we, that challenged ourselves and and it's sort of like that's like the essence in the spirit of hip hop. It's almost like, you know, you got to show and prove if your crewmate is right there and you got to represent. So it's that kind of thing. We kept each other fresh and on point. That was the firing thing. And there was a group called Africa Cobra, from the 60s. And some of the artists that I had mentioned when we first started talking the Polian Henderson, Nelson Stevens, they were part of this, this movement called an Africa was an acronym for African commune of Bad, bad meaning good, relevant artists. And they found it in the 60s 68. They were sort of like our blueprint for a wall, and in a wallet inspired a la, African Latino Alliance, pro black zone quest, Mark 27. And now they have, they've spawned all of these disciples of the younger generation and look up to them like gods. So pro always had the utmost respect for him. And he's done amazing things with his art career. So it's kind of nice to show that connection locally, you know, from from generation to generation, and the respect that's always been there, and no animosity. You know, I think all of that beef and animosity that's, that's more like a New York thing. It's never, from my experience, it's never been a Boston thing. We've always at least my my era, we've always tried to build each other up and encourage each other and support each other. And we have the opportunity to me and pro to link up on this project. It was almost like a no brainer, like, why didn't we think of it and shout out to mckaela McCreary, she had the foresight to put us together. Go back a bit. I had mentioned something and then almost forgot to give you a little bit more detail. So pro black had the dedication to the mural that's on Fremont Street, across from the piano factory. That's his latest one, with the boy and the girl on her shoulders. So he had just finished that in May of last year. And I was at an event that mckeeva mccrary at the MFA was hosting with a whole lot of community teachers, and it's a roundtable discussion. And we went directly from there to the dedication of pros mural in the south then. So that was a great day. That was like this big premiere for like this movie, this incredible movie that you can't wait to see and everybody in the neighborhood sales really good. So long story short, McKeever wanted to know or mckeeva had the foresight to try and bring that energy into the MFA. So there were a couple of things that were going on at the MFA at the time, they were right on the cusp of the hundred and 50th anniversary of the MFA. So there was a whole lot of programming around that. And then there was this little exhibit called writing in the future. bask in the hip hop generation. So I'm being sarcastic. That's like a huge deal, because basky has never been exhibited in the MFA ever, let alone his contemporaries. So she connected us directly with that exhibition. So I actually have pieces that I did in tribute form that were mixed media g clay on canvas, that are going originally were to be displayed at the exit of the exhibit, and sort of a paying homage to a lot of those pioneering artists that laid down the foundation, but the artists who are featured in the exhibit basky on of course, teacher, Lady pink MLC, Fab Five, Freddy Leake, known as Keith Haring toxic LA to cool core, but if you're not familiar with any of these artists, definitely look them up in Google. They defined an era that I know everybody from my era was turned on by and inspired by. This is sort of like when Shepard Fairey was coming up and Kenny Scharf, 80s 80s in Boston in New York. I mean, if you were like me, I was back and forth to New York in the 80s all the time. So to be given an opportunity to have anything to do with a groundbreaking exhibit like that. I mean, who would have thought that the MFA in Boston would ever host I mean, just basky out alone is a big deal. But all of those people at the same time, and there was all this other programming. There were panel discussions. block parties with DJs. It was really recreating the whole essence of those significant aspects of the culture that define the culture really define the movement, and COVID just came through and just wiped it all away. So most of the companion events got knocked out. But recently, as a matter of fact, we just got confirmation that physical exhibit will remain in Boston until the end of the year. So what the MFA did was they offered a residency to myself and pro black. And to my understanding, that's the first time a residency or the MFA has offered residency to local artists. So, so we're kind of blazing a trail. And being the first, obviously, a lot of people are being resilient in the moment, like this zone conversation, and teaching online and just rethinking different ways of how we just move and maneuver through life and business. So a lot of that is being introduced on the web, that, you know, originally, people would have experienced physically in a traditional exhibition format. So we have a program book that was flipped comic book style, that was my idea, kind of took the format of old school Marvel Comics, and had the same kind of layout and prose logos on it. And my logos on here, the MFA Logo is on their, Pro is actually doing a community mural, I don't think the kids are going to be involved anymore. But it's with Madison Park High. So if you're familiar with pro black, he's one of the founders of artists for humanities. And he heads up the painting program down there. So he's gonna have his students partner up with Madison Park High students to do the community mural on the exterior of Madison Park High. So that was one thing, it was a three part event that we were collaborating on as artists and residents. So let me roll was one part of the program book was another and the Is there a film and a film documentary? Why did that slip my mind. And that would be coming out soon. Because they did the teaser trailer last month. Looking forward to that, that was a lot of fun to do. For people who may know of us, but not know that much about us. I think it's a nice little window into you know who we are artists. And then behind the art is nice and evenly balanced. It really shows the mutual respect, you know, we share between each other. So it's really great. All right, all the way around beyond measure, local film company, they produce that. I mean, I can see why with Basquiat and a lot of the people you named were collaborators with him as well. And so you collaborating with this residency, it kind of goes with the same theme of that as well, being able to bring better reach. All of those artists were his contemporaries. And I just keep bringing it back to hip hop again, it's it's just so pure and innocent. It's like what we were all doing as kids back in the day, and I might have known cause or cash, God rest his soul. What maze was zone? And, you know, hey, what do you do? To try and get a show somewhere? I mean, it was just like that, you know, that kind of commonplace? And all of the business are, how much are you gonna make and how much did that was all like, over there. It was always about the art first. And you look back on how those luminaries, how they came up. It was the similar kind of thing. They were just products of their environment. It's almost like they didn't realize they were doing something so phenomenal. Until all of these hordes of people started coming in and trying to get a piece of them and telling them Oh my god, you're incredible. You're great. You're this, you're that. And some of them didn't want to take that ride. Some of them their their attitude was some of the writers and graffiti artists. Their attitude was no I'm, I'm a writer, I'm a group. I'm a bomber. You know, I'm not. I didn't start bombing to take trips to Paris and fly all over the world as started bombing to destroy frickin train lines. You know, I'm not with all of that caviar and Champagne stuff. But I think it was very similar with us to was that innocence, but then that it was coupled with that excitement. layer, you know, we could do anything. And you've done so many things and you're still involved in so many projects. What do you do to maintain focus? How do you balance it all? This might sound a little self absorbed. But that's easy for me. I have blogs from time to time, like everybody, but my takeaway from this whole quarantine pandemic. And now uprising, I mean, where do I begin is a whole myriad of stuff to pull from an inspiration doesn't always have to be rosy and positive inspiration can enrage you, but you're inspired. And I feel lucky, and fortunate to be able to have a disability where I can channel that redirect that, and doesn't necessarily have to be a masterpiece that I would want to display somewhere. But it's a way of getting that out of my system. And not fully out of my system. But getting it out there and playing around with it. I know a lot of artists that feel the same way, and have sort of like a similar approach and format to how to deal with things. I've always been very grateful for that ability to be able to express myself in a way that I that I have, or that I can. And this whole experience hasn't been short of that, I need to pay a little bit better attention to self care. See, I've always been a slim dude and put on a little bit of putting put a couple of pounds on so that's not a good look for me. So, but that's a reminder, you know, okay, you kill kids. Creativity hasn't waned, but you kind of slack in in other areas. So tighten that up. But um, yeah, inspiration is so many places, so many sources to draw from. I've never been starved on that, especially now, I got a few private challenges I'm not going to speak about in a whole lot of great detail, but a couple of our buddies of mine from New York, our mission is when the smoke finally clears. And we get on the other side of this madness, if that even ever happens. But I'm optimistic that it will, then we're hitting up the galleries. So you have like specific number of pieces that we need to create new pieces by nothing that you posted online, Robin's got to be new. In turn, we're inspiring each other. Once as simple. I have a habit of posting things that I'm kind of sort of in the process of creating. Can I do that? And he's like, yeah, yeah, yeah, sure. But just knowing that people you care about, and we're all living through the same thing. You know, we're all taking it day by day. And that's the way to do it. Just knowing that there's somebody else out there even this interaction today, you know, with what we're doing, talking about, you know, that the common thread here is this culture that we all love. That's why I was no, absolutely looking forward to sharing some time with you guys today. But yeah, so that inspiration is everywhere. Especially the youth, you just take a walk outside, and it's everywhere. I was curious to know how you felt about the new Spider Man. Love it. I saw the movie, the animated one. I love the hip hop influence in it. Yeah, I liked that. And that was undeniable and on purpose. But I like the little nuance II things that they did, where they almost superimposed little comic book elements, like blatant. And sometimes if you blinked you missed it. You know, it was almost subliminal in areas. But it's almost like they had like the superimposed dot pattern. Like if you were like a kid in the old comic books, you take a magnifying glass to the pages, and you'd see all the little dots with the color and blown up you don't really see that too much anymore, because most of the books are colored by computer now but that was like some old school throwback shit that I didn't think a whole lot of people would catch to little nuances like that, that they did. They were all throughout the movie just sort of haphazard, scattered about. I thought it was amazing. And I have some friends that the conceptual art for that movie. I'm not gonna put them on blast, because their egos are already overblown. Just kidding. Is there anything else you would like to talk about or express to our listeners? I think we nailed it. I think I would just tell people if if there was ever something that you wanted to do, your real passionate about. And it's positive, not to beat yourself up with the what ifs? What if I'm not good enough? Or what if I'm not, you know, what if I don't make it or what if I don't just invest the time as opposed to watching the years go by and then saying I should have did that? Because that's what hip hop for us. And I'm speaking locally, it was just all around. So it was just what we did as kids It wasn't like a trend that we were following. And then everybody that we knew did the same thing. So it's like, odds are, I mean, we could be on a train somewhere, and some kid will be in his black book, and then another kid over there. And it was just a common kind of thing. So you just almost assumed that anybody that you met at that time, that was in your age or age range, that they were into the same things that you were, it was that powerful, to just take advantage of those opportunities. I think RAR, we were talking about, we didn't realize the significance and the power of what we were doing until years after the fact. But we really helped to contribute to changing the racial climate and landscape of this city. people outside of Boston, I'm sure you guys know, they hear horror stories about Boston, Boston now is nothing like it's not perfect, but it's nothing like it was when I was coming up in a generation just before me. And I feel proud in saying that my generation helped change all of that. Yes, that's what I would tell, especially the younger listeners, you know, if there's something that you're into, like you seen a lot of young people out here, like you saw young people out there protesting the Gulf War, when the first bush was in office, my days and protesting, and especially during a global pandemic, I think I'm pretty much over with, but I understand, and I support and applaud their desire to be out there. Because they're fed up. It's like this, this is raging inside of them. So the older heads like me will say, I'm not going to be out there. But then the younger people say, I have no choice but to be you know, and I respect that. And to me, that's positive, because the change changes. They're laying down that landscape. And I was talking to my friend, the second that I saw the Floyd murder on TV, like we all did. And then you saw that stuff happened almost instantaneously. That whole uprising is swept across the country, and it traveled the whole globe. So I was saying this is different. This is a combination of Rodney King, Landrieu. Castiel, and Eric Garner, and Briana Taylor, and Freddie Gray, and on and on and on Tamir Rice, and on and on and on. But this is different. And we see and why this is different. So how is this time gonna manifest 10 years from now? You don't know. But it's a very interesting time to be alive. And I for one, with all the craziness that's going on in uncertainty, I'm glad I'm here and experiencing it. You know, cuz we're eventually going to get to the other side of it. I'm gonna make sure I'm still around and doing what I need to do. Take care of me in mind. I hope you all do the same. And so we can have a story to tell on the other side. Yeah. Well, as we're starting to wrap up, we want to roll out the red carpet for you. Can you let our listeners know, you know where they can find you and how they can support you. Oh, for sure. RobStull.com - I'm on social media, even though I'm not a big fan of social media. I'm RobStull24 on Twitter, that I'm barely on anymore. And RobStull24 on Instagram. I'm on Facebook. Facebook is kind of pissing me off. I don't know what's going on with Zuckerberg. But it's RobStull24 and I am RobStull on Facebook,

we end all our interviews with:

What is hip hop to you? Oh, wow, life - Life. I didn't start this hashtag but I rapid art life. Because to me, art and life are intrinsic. It's almost like there's no line between them. For me. art for me is life itself. I draw every day. I try to be creative in some kind of way every day, even if I'm not drawing, even if I'm just sitting around and conceptualizing something. Hip Hop is life. I thank God that I was sort of like, an offspring of that first generation. So I'm not I'm not that old to be like the first generation, but I'm an offspring of the first generation. So I got it pure. And I'm glad that I did. Because you talk to a lot of these kids. And when I say kids, I mean anywhere from 10 to 17. And you ask them what they think hip hop is. They'll quote some rapper on the radio. I don't know No, you know, that's not hip hop at all. That's rap music. And we didn't get into that. But I always argue that there's a distinct difference between hip hop culture and hip hop music and rap music. two totally different things. Thank you so much to our guests, Rob, for taking the time and being so open while sharing your perspective with us. Some of the gems we took away from this interview were Strong emotions can be a great source of inspiration. Negative experiences can be channeled and used as creative fuel just as much as positive ones. The ripple effect of encouraging environments can lead to great individual and social change. Common things can lead to exceptional outcomes by doing them with the right people. When you share your imagination, it creates collaboration which in turn, nurtures a community. our theme music was beatboxed by Denis the Menace and produced by Zede, a big shout out to the brothers from Switzerland. Also, a big shout out to our brother Christopher Barns, aka Track you already know. And Mali, You already know. If you would like to support our show, you can buy us a coffee by clicking on the link in the show notes. We would love to get your feedback, questions and any suggestions you might have. You can reach out to us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook @SoulidarityLLC or via email soulidarityllc@gmail.com If you liked today's show, please tell a friend about our podcast. Or as Phife Dawg would say: Tell your mother, tell your father, sent a telegram. in our next episode we welcome East-3. East-3 is a lifelong writer, hip hop practitioner, designer, multimedia artist, entrepreneur, accountant and educator. He lives in Hawaii and represents the Rock Force Crew. Don't forget to subscribe to the show and leave a rating and review. See you on our next episode. Thank you for listening to our podcast. No, seriously. Thank you. I am Candy. I am DJ Razor Cut. This is Souls of Hip Hop

How would your parents describe what you do?
Influence of Hip Hop
Adventures with Phase2
Becoming a professional artist
Advice for upcoming artists
Is technology replacing mentorship?
The importance of hip hop culture on comics
Mass Rock Against Racism
Museum of Fine Arts Residency
How do you balance it all?
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
What is Hip Hop to you?