GoldLink is either a singing rapper or a rapping singer, depending on how you decide to approach his music. Either way, you’ll like what you find on his debut album, And After That, We Didn’t Talk.
Riding the momentum from his impressive 2014 mixtape, The God Complex, and from being named to XXL’s 2015 Freshman class, the 22-year-old musician from Washington, D.C. jumps onto his newest project with the same signature bouncy flow that raised plenty of eyebrows a little over a year ago.
“And this just the intro, nigga, I ain’t even spazzin’ yet/We ain’t even make it yet/Talk to me like I’m that nigga, ask me who I’m fuckin’ now/Momma can’t go to family functions, they ask if I’m around,” GoldLink goes off on “After You Left,” the album’s opener.
It’s become pretty common for artists like GoldLink to blow up in the age of the Internet before even dropping an official album. Consequently it’s become just as common to hear anecdotes like his about coping with newfound fame on many debuts.
But GoldLink doesn’t stop there thematically, instead fashioning an album that’s first and foremost a breakup record but that also manages to talk about subjects like racism, spirituality, hypocrisy, and even having kids.
Songs like “Zipporah” and “Dark Skin Women” really illustrate his knack for making hard subjects sound upbeat and accessible. The latter, a dedication to black women who are so often excluded from societal beauty norms, may just be the best track on the album. It’s also a perfect example of the oddball bouncy flow and adaptability GoldLink seemingly exhibits on any given beat.
Almost reminiscent of Danny Brown, the flow is most apparent when GoldLink raps, but it pops up in his singing from time to time as well. Songs like “Unique” and “Palm Trees” have an island vibe strong enough to make you think you’re in a Corona commercial, except with GoldLink’s magical vocal cords setting the mood instead of a narrator trying to sell you beer.
“Unique” is probably not the best song to hear GoldLink’s singing shine, however, because Anderson .Paak is featured and it’s hard for any musician to not let him steal the show. His verse alone makes the song easily one of the best out of the 11 on the record. If you’re looking for new sexy tracks for your “Spotify & Chill” playlist, look no further than this one, and add “Late Night” while you’re at it too.
Both in his singing and raps, GoldLink isn’t too big on intricate metaphors or double entendres, but in his simplicity he still proves he has bars for days, and a quickness that’ll take your breath away long before his.
Nowhere is this more evident than on “Spectrum,” a song heavily defined by its brilliant sample of Missy Elliot’s “She’s a Bitch,” but not to the point of overshadowing GoldLink himself. If anything, it’ll make you realize how good an actual collaboration between the two artists would be. With Missy Elliot’s recent return to the spotlight (of which we are not worthy) that may not be such a crazy idea.
If you’re still having trouble imagining what GoldLink sounds like, and for whatever reason you haven’t opened a new tab to look him up yet, imagine equal parts Frank Ocean, Danny Brown, and a less corny Drake, but with more of an island sound. We don’t have to look much further than Drake to know the singer/rapper combination can be an insanely effective crowd-pleaser, and with this project GoldLink has shown he is well on the path to honing his own take on it to make it even more so.