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Image via Genius.com
Image via Genius.com

Goldlink, At What Cost: Review

Simamkele George

Released on March 24 2017, the debut album from Goldlink, proves to be more than what it appears.

In a random search for “the best albums of 2017” on google, you will probably stumble upon many candidates to choose from, and quite a lot of usual-suspects. In these searches however, it is quite interesting that little-known rapper Goldlink always appears in amongst there. Why and what exactly is he getting right?

First of all, the album is different. It is unconventional in sound and production, and offers more variation than the typical hip hop album. Speaking to XXL in 2015, he described his sound as “culture pushing and forward-thinking music”. Culture pushing indeed, the album is a homage to the inspiration he got from the go-go music which was born in his hometown of Washington D.C. He digs deep into his city’s musical history, pushing the timeless sound of go-go and funk to the fore while still remaining in the current moment

Songs like Meditation, Herside Story and Roll Call (featuring Mya) do have incredible lyrics, but Goldlink wants you to dance too. In what could be described as a new subgenre of hip hop, Goldlink coined the term “future bounce” when he was rapping over electronic beats from the Soulection camp for his music. Basically it’s a concoction of funk and soul smoothness, classic hip-hop vibes, and a bass-heavy but a low-sounding groove, inspired by his go-go music background.

Another thing that has led to its critical acclaim is the fact the album has meaning. It is not making a statement more than it trying to tell a story and giving meaning and life to its songs. It is more than the typical hip hop offering nowadays where albums released are just albums and not more than that. All great artists always had a story to tell in their projects and Goldlink is doing the same.

“We are one of the few major cities [Washington D.C] that haven’t been properly depicted properly outside where we’re from” he told Vevo “there’s the politics, the sin the president and all this stuff that’s happening, but then like down the street there’s poverty and killing and there’s drugs. My goal is to have people understand what D.C really is and not what they perceive it to be”.

At What Cost is an utterly ambitious debut album and is slickly produced. It has a sound and signature style that is so clearly needed in the hip hop music scene right now, and all while still avoiding the norm. It has a sound and created an impact that is the stuff of a Grammy nominee, and at this rate it is worth keeping an eye on the artist.

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