poetry and pimps with goldlink, rising star of the dmv rap scene
With a flow like Danny Brown and approval from Rick Rubin, 21 year old DMV rapper GoldLink is riding high on our list of ones to watch.
Inspired by poetry and J.Dilla, his brilliant debut mixtape The God Complex samples Britney's Toxic and won over Andre 3000, who turned up to his sold out Old Blue Last show. Fresh off his tour supporting SBTRKT, i-D caught up with GoldLink to talk poetry, pimps and being taken seriously by girls.
What should we know about your hometown?
The DMV has a music scene that is coming up quick. It's rough, very cultured, very diverse, and there's a lot of hate, so you've got to be strong. I never thought I'd leave or travel so it's kind of overwhelming.
Why do you make music?
What really inspired me was the lack of good music out there. I'm tired of having to go back to the old days, when shit was cool. At the same time, there was nothing else really positive in my life, so I just decided to pursue it to see what happened and I guess I got good at it.
What's the story behind your name?
I was with a friend watching Netflix and American Pimp comes on and I'm just so fascinated with pimps, I don't know why but they're just so cool to me. So I was thinking… if I was a pimp in the sixties and seventies, what would my name be?
What is it about pimps that appeals to you?
They're so different and have their own lingo and culture. My first time encountering a pimp was when I was in DC, in the ghetto, and he was driving a pink Cadillac with no roof, blaring the loudest music possible and I was like, 'Yo! This is the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life!'
What would you wear?
Fur, dress socks, no shirt, no pants, silk boxers… and that's it.
Strong look. What song makes you move without fail?
That's a great question, Amerie - 1 Thing.
And what's your favourite move?
The Diddy Bop. When Diddy dances… what ever Diddy do, I'll do it. 2Pac did a thing in I Get Around that I like, and Snoop Dog does this thing called the hydraulic dance.
You studied literature, did this help with your music?
Yeah, I fell in love with the stories behind the poetry and tried to study the writing style and how they get their vision across.
Who's your favourite poet?
Edgar Allan Poe is amazing because he was so dark. He's from Baltimore and so cynical that you can feel it when you're reading, it feels so honest. As cliché as that sounds, Maya Angelou is one of the best writers I've ever read. She's very wise and to the point. That's why The God Complex was 26 minutes long; it's short and sweet, easy to digest.
What about the greatest lyrics of all time?
Kanye West - The Glory, when he says 'with my ego, I can stand there in a speedo and be looked at like a fucking hero'.
Changed my life.
What are you most proud of achieving so far?
Leaving my city. For me it's a huge accomplishment that people care enough to let you do something bigger than your area. Making music is like school to me. My first mixtape was me just living in this box for my entire life. Now I'm out of that box, I wonder how much more I can do.
And finally, what's the best thing about being 21?
Girls don't look at you like you're a kid anymore, and that's cool man. Mentally I've been there for a while, but now I'm old enough. That's the best part of being 21, being old enough.
Text Francesca Dunn
Photography Amber Grace Dixon