Ever since his debut mixtape The God Complex in 2014, GoldLink has proven himself to be outlier in terms of production, lyricism, and overall sound. He then outdid himself following the release of his sophomore mixtape And After That, We Didn’t Talk in 2015, showing progression to an even newer overall sound. Now, in 2017, GoldLink has outdone himself again. This time, he has still progressed, but also has flipped his sound, straying away from the undeniable dancehall vibe delivered in his first two projects. In his debut album At What Cost, GoldLink stays true to his roots and shows a lot of influence from one of D.C.’s most original genres: go-go. He delivers not only a heavily go-go influence vibe, but there is also a higher quality of production than either of his projects had. At What Cost comes fully equipped with a wide range of features (such as fellow D.C. natives Wale and Ciscero and fellow 2016 XXL freshman Shy Glizzy), some of the best up and coming producers (such as KAYTRANADA and Steve Lacy from The Internet), and the variance in flow and adaptability that GoldLink always brings to the mic.
His first two projects started with some sort of car crash, but this album starts off with something different. It appears to be a lot of industrial noise followed by some sort of five-line monologue, in which GoldLink talks about how he cannot be stopped. The second track (and first song) on the album Same Clothes As Yesterday is led by Ciscero, and he speeds all over the track during his verse before GoldLink steps in with his classic quick-switching flow.
Some Girl featuring Steve Lacy and Meditation featuring Jazmine Sullivan follow the somewhat funky vibes that D.C.’s go-go music brought in the 60’s and 70’s. The album, taking mixed influences from rap and R&B, has songs that reside on either far end of the spectrum. His remix of Hare Squad’s Herside Story really showcases his talents on the R&B end of the spectrum, while the first part of Kokamoe Freestyle is (in my opinion) the most solid rap song on the album. When Summatime comes on, the album switches gears and takes a much more intimate and personal turn, as GoldLink’s lyrical content on this track is mostly filled with talks of women and love. One of the singles released off the album, Crew featuring Shy Glizzy and Brent Faiyaz, is a very radio-fitting fast paced cypher between the three, and it was a great selection to release before the album. Pray Everyday (Survivor’s Guilt) is the perfect song signing off the album. It is very reminiscent of what J. Cole did at the end of 2014 Forest Hills Drive, it is very gospel-sounding like Chance The Rapper did on Coloring Book.
GoldLink’s main focus and perspective of his debut album is what makes it stand out most to me; he’s giving the listener a closer look into his life, who he’s loved, who he’s lost, and where he is from than ever before. It has that classic GoldLink flow, with a more nostalgic and somehow familiar vibe than his previous works.
By: Casey Elton