Real Topeka People pays tribute to his hometown of St. Louis in his soft and sweet new single “STL,” a tender love letter to the city that made him who he is today.
Stream: “STL” – Real Topeka People
Wherever I go, I take my home with me.
We are where we come from: The places that shape us ultimately come to define us. Sometimes there are visual cues – how we talk, how we dress, our references and mannerisms – but often (and more importantly), it’s the stuff you can’t see that lasts a lifetime: Our formative memories; a community’s spirit; and so on. For Real Topeka People’s Zach Wexelman, that defining place is the Gateway to the West, his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. The artist pays tribute to his hometown in his soft and sweet new single “STL,” a tender love letter to the city that made him who he is today.
What do you see when you look at me?
Five foot nothin’ with a rundown tee
Raised in the midwest on the Mississippi River
Ice cream in the summertime and chili in the winter
Released September 3, 2021, “STL” is Real Topeka People’s sixth single since debuting last November and the artist’s latest release following August’s songs “Cool Your Jets” and “17 Again.” The musical project of singer, songwriter, and music producer Zach Wexelman, Real Topeka People has quickly proven himself a multifaceted melting pot of sound and style – incorporating pop, psychedelic, R&B, and folk elements into songs that defy genre, immersing us in intoxicating soundscapes full of energy and catchy, memorable hooks.
A side-by-side comparison of his last three releases alone showcases Real Topeka People’s myriad influences and uninhibited creativity – with “Cool Your Jets” taking on a pop pulse and rockier edge, and “17 Again” glowing with a bouncy, dance-y feel-good groove à la Prince. The latter has already enjoyed some early streaming success, suggesting that listeners are drawn to Wexelman’s upbeat styles – but it’s his ability to thrive in a wide swathe of environments that makes Real Topeka People an early and exciting favorite, less than a year into his public-facing career.
“STL” is markedly more subdued than its predecessors, but it’s no less dreamy. The song reflects on the things you can’t see from the outside: The culture, the memories, and the indelible perspective that comes with a Midwest upbringing. It’s “ice cream in the summertime and chili in the winter,” as he sings lovingly – and yet, it’s so much more than that. A radiant backdrop grows as Real Topeka People reps the 314 with all his might:
But what you don’t know is
I’ve got this fire inside
That you can’t blow out
No matter how hard you try
Wherever I go
I take my home with me
I’m nothing without you
St. Louis, Missouri
“Growing up I was somewhat resentful of the fact that I was stuck in a town that I felt was marginalized and insignificant in comparison to America’s flagship cities like New York and Los Angeles,” Real Topeka People tells Atwood Magazine. “However, after having experienced life in the big city for many years, I reluctantly returned home to St. Louis only to realize how much I’d been needing to be back. I’ve come to understand that this place, unlike any other, allows me to feel authentic and real. It’s woven into the fabric of who I am. I wrote ‘STL’ as a love letter to the city that made me and continues to inspire me.”
I’ve come to understand that this place, unlike any other, allows me to feel authentic and real. It’s woven into the fabric of who I am.
The saying really is true: Home is where the heart is. For Wexelman, St. Louis gives him the space to be his truest self: To breathe easily, exist happily and joyously, and flourish. “STL” is a love letter, yes, but it’s also a steadfast assertion of identity: An outward acceptance and inner recognition that, though we may come to have complex relationships with them, our hometowns will always define us – and we can always love them for shaping us into who we are today. “STL” is a quick 2.5 minute escape that invites us to bask in our own personal reverie; to consider for a moment our own concept of home, and reflect on how these places have brought us to the present day.
Best of all, it’s another fine showing from Real Topeka People, whose burgeoning artistry continues to enchant us.
Stream: “STL” – Real Topeka People
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