23-year-old spitter GoldLink is no stranger to keeping it real a midst some heavy hitting flow and signature buttery grooves. Compiling a grab bag of R&B and surprise nostalgic renditions for his thrashing live shows see’s this modern day wordsmith poised atop the “future bounce” throne. GoldLink has driven the internet into a frenzy since his Soundcloud inception, guilded amidst some quick-witted rhymes and some political / PG themes. You’ll gain no glamour for the ghetto within his whopping beats as they unfold as life memoirs, away from false-truths from the hood. Forever flying high for his hometown of Washington DC has seen him enlist the likes of Sango, SBTRKT and Kaytranada to craft landscapes for his booming rap delivery. Having signed to RCA Records last year, and continually working with all the heavyweights in the game, our eyes and ears are fixed for, Gold. We speak with the DC heavy-hitter below…
Man, tell us about your first headline European tour – how was that?
It was amazing, the response was great. I never have expectations, so they’re always exceeded.
And you’re back in New Zealand for a second time, last time you were down here it was an INSANE live show.
Yes and no. I kept the energy high down here, but I also like to keep things different.
The crowd turns into a moshpit by the time you’re done, oh and that Nirvana cover snuckin last time – have you loved steel cap boots and rock n roll for a while?
I wouldn’t say a long time, and I didn’t really know what it was until I was exposed to different cultures. I really started loving it two years ago when I started studying music and its theory, expanding my palette of music. I love the attitude of that music – there’s songs I choose cos of the certain type of attitude that I gravitate towards. I’m a legitimate fan of Nirvana and Metallica, I watch this sh**, Rage Against the Machine.
What made you decide to dive into the theory of music?
It was just because I loved it. The world’s bigger than hip hop, but that’s what I grew up on. I got into gospel and jazz, this and that, I wanted to study people’s different worlds and cultures and how they impact. Some people might hold Biggie Smalls at the same place as Kurt Cobain, but I wondered why. I studied and dove into the cultures and now have a full understanding of it. It’s not like reading music theory, I can’t read music.
I’m not gonna mention artists, but I’ve seen some of the hip hop greats yelling over full tracks with vocals from a USB sticks at recent shows, and personally it’s not my vibe – why isn’t that your thing?
It’s just not professional – you may as well go home and listen to the record. It’s not a live experience or show if you’re going in and rapping over the same thing they can hear anywhere else. It’s not my thing…
When we last spoke you mentioned your recent album was a ‘record to get a girl’s attention,’ a lot of your personal stuff comes from what I interpret to be an ‘infatuated love’ sense – when I hear Nobody with LEISURE it was almost like a ‘Goldlink’s really appreciating love’ moment. Tell us about that track and how it differs?
That’s a good question, After That We Didn’t Talk was about getting one girl’s attention, and this spilt into ‘Nobody.’ The record was a super long past thing that I never closed the chapter to, it was like writing a journal. I wrote about all the things that happened, identifying the things that stemmed from that relationship. The verse on the LEISURE track is a spillover to exactly that.
You’ve touched on how it’s not always about writing songs that are first person, but sometimes third person right? Like about other people’s experiences around you – how do you catch feels from that?
Staying level-headed and on the ground is key – staying grounded. We write books and movies about people, stories come from people. Getting it from the source is something I do, keeping myself grounded. There’s so many stories that come from it…
Your latest video ‘Fall In Love’ covers how you don’t want to fall in love though – tell us about that one? The opposite of Nobody..?
Yeh, it was an anti-love record at the time. Not everything is about love, it was cool to do something different. It was definitely how I was feeling at the time…
Man the flute in that song is so fire though… was that a Kaytranada or badbad addition?
Maybe Kay, I don’t know I actually can’t tell you! It just happened in the studio, and it worked.
The man Frank Ocean recently put ‘When I Die’ in his list of top songs of all time. It’s crazy cos still that is our favorite cut from you..tell us about your response to Ocean throwing that out there.
It was cool, somebody like Frank recognizing that song was a moment for me.
You tweeted in August ‘I hear a little bit of me in all your favorite rappers’ – can you fill us in on that one?
Every time I turn on the radio or I listen to a new kid that everyone is excited about it sounds like me. In the last three years since God Complex dropped you hear a futuristic twist on a lot of things – whether it’s mainstream or underground, or the next hot n**** record. A lot of these people that everyone’s excited over have given me my praise, like ‘if I didn’t hear this song I wouldn’t have made this song, or decided to go this route.’ There’s a background story to everybody. Knowing the background influence you have over the entire industry is the truth.
Have you had any head-nods on other NZ artists after working with LEISURE? Didn’t you shout out to Montell2099 from the photo pit at Laneway?
He’s so serious. He’s baddddd. Not really anyone else. I found Montell2099 from being a Soundcloud baby. He’s just really sick, I love music, so good music just finds me. I was like ‘this n***** is sick, I really f*** with him, I f*** with him for real.’
Your next release will be with RCA, homies with ASAP Mob, Bryson Tiller, D’Angelo and more – what can a Goldlink fan expect from what’s in the oven right now?
Finally more resources to be more mature, to make much more music. The subject matter of course, but I’m finally in a position to do what I wanna do, and say what I wanna say. This is probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. For a Goldlink fan this is the most exciting thing you could look forward to.
Where has your head been at for this new record?
Definitely way different to the last one. That was done to buy time and get things off my chest. This record I stayed home in DC, and for the last 8 months straight I been doing that every day. It’s a very healthy headspace that I’m in.
You and Rashad recently collaborated, a more laid back cut without as much bounce – is this something you’re leaning towards more?
Nah, it’s not. Things are a bit more up than that!
You’ve really helped put your homie Louie Lastic on the map – did we hear a rumor he worked on the new Maroon 5 x Kendrick Lamar record?
Yeah he did, I don’t know exactly what happened there. I know he was in the studio with a couple of others, but he added his thing to the beat, and it’s fire. He’s serious and I was proud when I got the news – I hear that record everywhere.
We’re guessing after seeing a remix record with so many underground producers, you have a special place in your heart for those guys. What’s your attitude towards how producers are treated/positioned in modern-day music?
I’m very proud of the progression of producers. The producers are no longer the background, the Scotty Pippin’s. Everyone is on an even playing field, and they’re not saying ‘fuck artists we’ll do this ourselves,’ but they’re getting their credit that they deserve. Creating amazing music with people that are awesome. I’m so glad that everyone is on an even playing field, and people aren’t in the background anymore. That’s serious…that’s a good progression.