Every once in a while, a new artist will surface that approaches music differently, avoiding over-saturated elements to create a distinctive sound that sets them apart from their peers. From first listen, it’s obvious GoldLink is one of those artists. Choosing to rap over production from electronic standouts like Sango and Ta-ku, GoldLink has managed to turn heads with both his beat selection and incredibly acrobatic, unconventional flow. Earlier this month, GoldLink backed up the buzz with the delivery of his debut release, The God Complex. We got the opportunity to talk with the rising rhymer about the project, his hometown’s bubbling music scene, his long list of musical influences and much more. Start reading, and get properly introduced to GoldLink.
Let’s start off with release of The God Complex, what was that day like for you and what was it like to finally see it out there?
It was hectic, like everybody was calling my phone: my mom, my dad, my brother… It was hectic but it was fun. I felt accomplished. It was an excellent day. It felt like graduating from school. I didn’t have to worry about it anymore like ‘is it good enough’ and ‘how’s the track flow?’
What was it like watching rack up over a million combined listens so quickly?
It was very humbling that people are actually interested and still intrigued. I know it’s hard to follow me since I only drop something like once a month and I don’t always say much about it. So yeah, it’s very humbling.
The project itself was a rather brief listen, just over 25 minutes, is that something you guys thought out beforehand when discussing the experience you wanted to create?
Yeah, the attention span of people nowadays is just not there anymore, same for us. So we looked to create a cohesive body of work that also didn’t take up everybody’s time. We went with 9 tracks we felt were very solid, you know, so that was all part of the creative process.
Your beat selection is something that definitely stands out with your music, and you’re really leading the way when it comes to rapping over Future beats, can you tell us how that started?
It was a combination of things. When I first started rapping I started to study lyricism and guys like Big L, KRS One, Canibus and guys like that who are just lyricists for real. At the same time, I also began to study other genres of music. The thing about Future Bounce is that it’s inspired from so many things – from classic work to bachata. So it’s like I studied the words and I studied the elements, so it’s two processes that I join together.
In regards to your flow, was that something you learned to become more versatile with due to to the type of beats you were rapping over or is that something that dates back even further?
Yeah I had to rap around the beats. I kind of trap myself in one room with the beat; I don’t want the beat to carry me nor do I want to over rap the beat. The beats I pick aren’t like too much, to the point that it’s not pleasing to the ear; it’s more like, you can listen to the beat by itself, but there’s one element missing. Then I kind of use my voice to make up for that one thing that was missing.
Focusing on the production on The God Complex, can you tell us a little more about guys like Louie Lastic and Fingalick?
Fingalick I happened to find on SoundCloud very randomly, he’s from Lithuania. We started talking over email, and I was interested because what he was making, I didn’t know what it was, it wasn’t Soulection you know? There was just something about it, so we started talking and working together like that. Louie Lastic was someone I grew up around musically. I started rapping when I was 18, and he’s an older cat that was so good at what he was doing. So I kind of grew up with him, and we’ve kind of perfected our sound, that ‘GoldLink’ sound, together.
Is it true that we have both Netflix and Trindad Jame$ to thank for you deciding on the name GoldLink?
Haha, Netflix, yes. I was watching American Pimp with my homies, and everyone had these pimped out names. Also in DC there was pimps growing up, and I was like damn if I was a pimp in the ‘80s I would name myself GoldLink James. Then Trindad James came out so I dropped the James in my name, and now I’m GoldLink.
We’ve seen you list quite the variety of musical influences: Pink Floyd, Big L, Arctic Monkeys and Max B. to name a few, do you think that you listening to so many genres of music has made it easier to create music that isn’t bound by a particular one?
Yeah, much easier. I was fortunate to grow up in like two eras, I had my older brother’s era and my own era. When we were younger we had to listen to whatever was on 106 & Park, BET, or on radio, that was all we had. Then once we got into the YouTube era, I got exposed to so much more. Then I had all these new sources and I took it upon myself to listen to a bigger selection of music. I wasn’t listening to just hip-hop anymore, now it was Little Dragon and Bloc Party while still staying true to my roots, you know? It got me thinking what would Max B sound like over a Little Dragon beat, that’d be crazy. After that there was no point of bounding something by genre anymore.
You’ve resided in all parts of the D.M.V., can you speak on the music scene out there these days?
The scene is cool now, we didn’t have it before now. Go-Go was real big back in the day, probably from like the ’80s to like ‘08. Go-Go still plays a big role in the music scene, everything is a little bouncy, a little dancier. The scene now, though a lot of people don’t know it yet, it’s big. Fat Trel is at the forefront of the street movement, but there’s a lot going on here, a lot of kids are taking that street element and just continuing to be real creative with it, and just make creative music in general.
With The God Complex now out there and your fan base growing by the day, what do you got on the books looking forward?
A few things, there will be some collabs and features. I have a couple shows coming up in Los Angeles and Chicago, another one in France, and a few more to be announced.