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WPGM Recommends: GoldLink – At What Cost (Album Review)

At What Cost Album Review
GoldLink released his first studio album, entitled At What Cost, on March 24. The artist formerly known as D’Anthony Carlos hails from the DC metropolitan area (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia), and claims that the DMV and its culture played an important role in influencing the fourteen-track LP.

The twenty-three year old is débuting the At What Cost LP under RCA and Squaaash Club after the success of his first two independent mixtapes – The God Complex (2014), and And After That, We Didn’t Talk (2015).

After receiving critical acclaim for The God Complex, GoldLink was honoured with a place within the XXL Freshman Class the following year – an achievement that usually propels the careers of up-and-coming rappers.

Much like its predecessors, this album is no stranger to urban fusion genres, with GoldLink proving to still be king at creating hybrid tracks between house and hip-hop.

The project boasts some collaborative gems inclusive of the singles: “Crew” featuring Brent Faiyaz and Shy Glizzy, “Meditation” featuring KAYTRANADA and Jazmine Sullivan, and “Rough Soul” featuring April George (albeit not released as part of the LP).

In an exclusive for A COLOURS SHOW x HIGHSNOBIETY, the aforementioned track was featured as part of the A Colors Show series hosted, by Colors Berlin.

Track one is “Opening Credit”, which does one key thing – introduces the idea of the DMV being a primary lyrical influence for the project. A distant voice is heard in the background mentioning “the whole district of Columbia” over audio that sounds like an alien abduction.

The strategically produced “Same Clothes As Yesterday” is a solid introductory track that features Ciscero and whose melody is adorned with synthesised polyrhythms. Although it is not one of the most noteworthy tracks on the LP, what it does is serve to remind us of the role that GoldLink plays in genre bending.

Beat one of each bar hosts recurring melodic disjunction, however listeners are then put at ease with a rise-and-fall motif to reach harmonic resolution in response.

The push and pull between conjunction and lack thereof is further reflected lyrically. Aggressive lyrics such as, “F*ck you fake ass rap n*ggas” and “never trust a hoe because she’s gonna f*ck whoever feels bigger” almost feel oxymoronic over what is an ironically soothing flow.

The contrast between lyricism associated with harder subgenres of hip-hop against the multi-layered vocals on the bridge encapsulates GoldLink’s diverse nature.

With an oh-so-funky bassline, witty emcee commands, and synthesised strings, “Hands On Your Knees” screams 70s funk and sees Kokayi (whom the track features) become the Godson of Funk for this LP.

The track is upbeat and high-energy and is a throwback to an old school hip-hop sound. Listeners are instructed to “tuck [their] chains”, and “tighten up [their] laces”, because “they’re about to work”. It is near impossible to sit still with this infectious track. Kokayi charmingly demands that we “get [our] asses up off the wall” and that we should “get [our] hands on [our] knees” – and you had best believe that his wish is a dancer’s command.

Popular single released earlier this year is “Meditation”, featuring Jasmine Sullivan and KAYTRANADA. The track comes across more like a KAYTRANADA remix of a GoldLink track as opposed to a collaborative effort

In fact, it is not until the chorus where the audio comes across as cohesive thanks to Sullivan’s vocals. Granted, GoldLink’s rapping does have a melodic quality to it, which abides by digital harmonies, however it is far from a match made in heaven.

According to GoldLink, the track is a “what if” situation about a relationship that never developed between him and girl from the DMV when they were teenagers. It is more so about perseverance to try to court the girl…a girl so fine, that he describes her as “bad…stupid bad”.

Track ten is “Crew” and commences with a spoken word intro in the form of a prayer. The instrumental sample that recurs for every chorus is then heard in solitude before a moment of silence, making the opening sung chorus that follows take listeners by surprise.

Although Brent Faiyaz and Shy Glizzy feature on the track, the general vibe is that of an equal collaboration between all three parties. The music video serves well to showcase GoldLink’s eccentric personality whilst dancing in an ironically urban fashion – very 2017-esque.

GoldLink’s more than self-aware mannerisms complement an insanely catchy audio, so if you are prone to getting melodies stuck in your head, this track will most likely be your next subject.

GoldLink is an offbeat rapper and he certainly knows it. The hybrid of house music and hip-hop that he popularised is dubbed as the genre of future bounce – at least according to the man himself. We have him to thank for providing listeners with something fresh outside of the commerciality that is electro-hop and hip-house.

On April 16 GoldLink will be headlining Coachella. The festival will act as the starting date for his American tour. The only appearance outside of the US will be his closing date in Toronto, wrapping up his tour in May. Considering the At What Cost LP contains only A SIDE gems, we know that it will become the official playlist to welcome in the warmer months. GoldLink’s At What Cost can be downloaded here in order to add it to your summer playlist.

Also visit his Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook pages to keep tabs on GoldLink.

Words by Olga Maher

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