Photo Credit: Rog Walker
Back in 2013, I was at a festival in Atlanta working alongside Henny Yeguzu when he had mentioned he manages an artist from the DMV named GoldLink, that I should check out his music and that he’s going to blow. Naturally, based off the strength of Henny’s commentary, I did check him out, and realized he was something special. GoldLink made his official debut in 2014 with the launch of The God Complex, a 9-track mixtape that barely reaches the 30-minute mark – but that didn’t matter, the tape received media attention from Complex and Pitchfork to FADER and HHDX, and the 22-year old has been well sought after since. Earlier this year, GoldLink announced that he’ll be working alongside the legendary Rick Rubin to create new music as a part of a VSCO feature – what that truly entails, we’ll find out – but in the mean time, we spoke to GoldLink about his musical journey thus far, his native sound, and future bounce.
It seems as if every three months a new tour or festival has been announced since the release of The God Complex last year – and you’ve also publicly stated you’re not a big fan of touring. What have been the best or worst experiences thus far?
A Goldlink show is an experience that brings unique sounds and styles in one arena. Touring can be taxing, but it’s always dope seeing the different kinds of people who come to the show and actually enjoy themselves.
In a similar breath, aligning yourself with the Red Bull network is bound to take you all over the world. For an artist who originally didn’t want to have an image attached to the music and stood by the concept of anonymity, to having a world brand associated with your name, how do you stay true to your artistic goals?
Red Bull is a great brand that’s done more for new music than some labels have. Red Bull is a part of festivals like this, and work with artists like me because they understand the music and understand the culture, so it hasn’t interfered with my artistic goals much; it’s only bolstered those goals.
At the top of the year, the word trickled down that you were working with Rick Rubin. Can you elaborate on what’s happened since February when the news dropped? In a two-fold question, how do you believe you captured the attention of a veteran ear like Rick Rubin’s by pioneering a new take on an electro-rap sound through future bounce?
Rick became a legend by having an impeccable ear. He has created plenty of waves in his career, and I think it was just a matter of him recognizing a cultural shift in music, and spotting a fresh new sound that emerged from that shift. People with great ideas happen to find each other, and I’m so honored to be able to have the eyes and ears of someone like Rick on the music I make and what I’m trying to do.
In July, a little bird tweeted that a new album is coming through Soulection titled, And After That, We Didn’t Talk. Can you speak a little more about that titled, as well as your relationship with Soulection?
Soulection is family, from day one. My sound grew with theirs, and now we’re both at a place where the world is listening – I couldn’t be more grateful to work with such a talented and progressive group of people and artists.
What about Lakim, Kaytranada, Sango or any of the other usual suspects in your discography… do they play a role in the new music you’re working on?
That’s family. They’ll always play a role.
Vulnerability in music can make or break an artist – meaning, there’s a fine line between putting your life out for the public and being unable to relate to. With you, you push the boundaries just enough that people get a sense of who you are. Why is it important for you to keep a sense of vulnerability in your music – not just as an artist overall, but also as a young man in the rap game?
As human beings, we have a natural desire to relate to others, and for others to relate to us. You gain a deeper connection with people when you can get them to see the world the way you do, and to do that, you have to offer a little bit of yourself. Keeping a sense of vulnerability in my music as an artist and a person allows my fans more insight into who GoldLink is – why I sound the way I do, why I say the things I say. It’s important for developing a stronger connection.
For a lot of young rappers / rap music fans, the concept of a bar-to-bar rap is almost an ‘outdated’ concept – yet you still have a huge respect for storyteller rappers like Slick Rick or Big L. How do these pioneers play a role in how you make your own music?
Slick Rick and Big L are pioneers of this rap shit first and foremost, we wouldn’t have a lot of hip-hop without them. My influences from legends like them are more subtle. I don’t take stylistic cues from them, but I may try to combine Rick’s pithiness or L’s dexterity in a story I may write.
Your stance on music, and from what you’ve said thus far, is about the art above everything – a lot like Kanye West. At the recent MMVAs, when Kanye accepted his Vanguard award, he said “Listen to the kids.” As someone from this new generation of artists on the come up, and at just 22 years old, what do you believe he meant by this, and why should we be listening?
Kanye has been at the forefront of culture since he came into music. What he was saying was relatively simple: kids are the future, let them build it. Young people are living and creating in a world that’s more different than it’s ever been – trailblazing is no longer unique, it’s required. We’re all forging new, exciting paths, and instead of trying to control or command the kids, just listen to what they’re saying, and where they’re trying to go.
WATCH: GoldLink – Dance On Me