AFTER what feels like an eternity, American rapper and vocalist Goldlink has finally dropped his much-anticipated debut album At What Cost.
Following the success of his previous two mixtapes ‘The God Complex’ (2014) and ‘And After That, We Didn’t Talk’ (2015), it was interesting to see how he would build on his already established eclectic exploration of genres whilst bringing something new to the table. There are still some hints of ‘Future Bounce’, a style that he has helped cultivate, making sure that there are tracks you can dance to.
The visuals are striking. Vibrant and artistic, the album cover is a representation of Goldlink himself, placing him at the forefront of his own creation, laying the foundations for an album that’s different from anything he’s produced before.
Featuring a broad range of talents like KAYTRANADA, Matt Martians, Steve Lacy, and, of course, Louie Lastic (for what is a Goldlink release without at least one feature from the future bounce pioneer?)
The most notable feature is that of the Irish trio Hare Squead, with whom Goldlink reminisces about an ex-lover over their laidback track ‘Herside Story’.
In similar fashion to Drake’s ‘More Views’, it’s exciting to see more American artists giving a platform to what our British talents can offer.
Lyrically and musically it’s all about what he loves best; Washington, D.C. ‘Roll Call’, features vocals from Mŷa (yes that Mŷa from the 2002 remake of Lady Marmalade), and fully encapsulates his love for the city, referencing several places within the DMV area.
Crammed full of collaborations with various D.C. artists like Wale and Shy Glizzy, it is clear that this project is a very personal one. Tracks such as ‘We Will Never Die’ and ‘Kokamoe Freestyle’ appear to eloquently discuss socially relevant topics like the dynamics of gang culture and police brutality. ‘The Parable Of The Rich Man’ ends with a haunting rendition of the chant ‘Where Is There Love?’ by the Indian Yogi Paramahansa Yogananda, contrasting with the more sensual lyrics preceding it and, arguably, doing something slightly different for Goldlink.
Goldlink reunites with Canadian producer KAYTRANADA to bring us the catchy ‘Meditation,’ the old school throwback ‘Hands On Your Knees’ and ‘Have You Seen That Girl?’. It’s clear from these tracks that Goldlink isn’t shy about sharing his favourite vices:, women and sex. These are topics also explored in ‘Summatime’ which, with its easy-going and jazzy vibe, asserts itself as the definitive standout track. ‘Crew’, the first song to be released from the album, has an infectious yet subtle beat which teamed with the smooth vocals of Brent Faiyaz makes for a strong lead single.
At What Cost Overall successfully highlights Goldlink’s strengths, his gratitude to the DMV area and its music scene and ambitions for the direction of his music. An ode to D.C. perhaps, but this album can be appreciated by listeners everywhere.