24 year old rapper GoldLink has only just realised his potential spending power: rocking up to meet us in blue striped Sunnei two piece and a Gucci charm bracelet with a sad Donald Duck dangling from one of it's links. He looks great. "I've always been into fashion, I just couldn't afford it before." You're on the internet, so it's likely you have come across GoldLink's recent single Crew. It's a silky smooth banger designed to crush the GoldDiggers. In the video he's surrounded by girls on motorbikes and wears a shaved blue mink hooded jacket, like Missy Elliot made it out of the Cookie Monster.
Crew is the lead single of At What Cost -- GoldLink's third full length album -- and his most self-assured and mature sounding. "I created the whole album in my hometown of Washington DC -- I didn't leave once," he says. "I refused to go anywhere for months until it was finished. I would play it for my homies and they said that Crew was going to be the one. That everything would have its time but this would start it."
Having just played his way through Asia, hitting up Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul, he's about to embark on an epic West Coast tour that will take him through to late October. Is entering the weird, semi-isolated world of touring strange and lonely for the rapper? "You never think about that. You just think about how you can't wait for everyone to know your name and your songs," he laments. "But I guess everything comes with a sacrifice, and I guess with this, you lose your human."
Gogo music is the native funky soul sound that sprung from 60s Washington, and is still evolving today -- referenced throughout At What Cost. "It's the essence of the city," he explains. "The music changes with the time… or maybe the time stamps on the essence." He remembers the subgenre as the soundtrack to his youth, watching bands play at the park with his dad and hearing it blasting out of car radios as people drove by. "We all grew up and adopted it. I think our parents and the ones above them did a good job of instilling it in us." Now his turn to pass the gogo baton, he called on fellow DMVer Walee for help and a feature. "I'm just writing an ode, telling a story. He's really educating people." Time to dive into GoldLink's memory bank and figure out why he turned out the way he did is via his biggest musical inspirations. Hold your breath!
Beck, Hell Yes
"I like Beck, Hell Yes. In the video he used Sony Qrio robots that got discontinued. He choreographed a dance for them. I think they were only released in Japan and they can speak a hundred thousand languages or something, they're super kid friendly and the first humanoid robots. At that time, in middle school, I was super into robotics and it blew my fucking mind. To this day I want that robot, but you can't get it anywhere. It's funny cause the Sony owner is there in the video. It's like a press conference for the fucking robot. It was inspiring."
Taz Arnold from Sa-Ra
"He was inspiring to me because he was black. Taz is just a very different guy, and very influential to a lot of the guys that I look up to. I really like the production on the r song; Kanye, Andre 3000… they have a lot of random songs I've heard that just sounded unlike anything else, that pushed the means of what we boxed ourselves into doing at that time. It was very ahead of its time, very encouraging, especially for black guys."
"Of course he has the most unique style and was lightyears ahead of his time, but it was more so the antics of what he did with the Blackberry, the iced out Pepsi can, the whole Bape thing, the moustache, BBC, and wearing hats and stuff. I love the antics. It opened my mind up to other things. It introduced me to Nigo and Bathing Ape. Nigo's life and house and everything is just amazing."
"She was incredible. I used to get up early 'cause my mum had to take me to school real early and only the music channels would be on. I was watching Rehab and I couldn't look away because I really wanted to know her name and they listed the artist at the end. I was late for school because I had to find out who she was. I was compelled from the get-go. I was like, I don't know who the fuck this white girl singing like this is, but, wow. I actually never even knew she was British until she died."
R.Kelly, Trapped In The Closet
"It was the most incredible soap opera musical I've ever seen in my life. That was it. No black person doesn't like him, I'm telling you. Do I condone what the nigga do? No, but I like that nigga so much. It don't take away from the music. He's so good that we're excusing his behaviour in the black community. He's amazing. It's long enough but it's perfectly long and ends right before you get bored. It keeps twisting and turning and once you think you have it figured out, it turns again! It just keeps doing it until it's over. I'm going to make my own Trapped In The Closet one day, about a black kid growing up in the hood."