REVIEW // GoldLink – At What Cost

Tuck your chains, tighten up your laces. GoldLink’s debut studio album is here.

If you’re not from the DMV, then you probably won’t ever get what it’s really like. DMV stands for D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, which is the Washington D.C. metro area. It’s known as the home of go-go music, a funk subgenre from the ‘70s, which heavily influenced modern hip-hop, and brought us Chuck Brown, the Young Senators and Black Heat. But it’s also marred by violence. There were (and still are) a lot of turf wars in the neighbourhood, and several go-go club venues were forced to close down after a number of violent incidents and police call-outs in ’07.

GoldLink captures all of this in At What Cost. It’s an effort to immortalise the rich culture of his hometown—an ode to the city that made him. There’s no shortage of guest artists here, many of them hailing from D.C. including Wale, Brent Faiyaz, Shy Glizzy and April George, who lend their lazy accents to GoldLink’s “future bounce” sound. It also features production from Steve Lacy, Matt Martians, KAYTRANADA, Louie Lastik and Taz Arnold.

The album still carries the textured electronic quality of his mixtapes The God Complex and After That, We Didn’t Talk, but it’s stripped back. You can hear the go-go influence in tracks like ‘Hands On Your Knees’ and ‘Kokamoe Freestyle’, and the bounce in favourites ‘Same Clothes As Yesterday’ and ‘Roll Call’ with D.C. native Mya (hollaa <3). There are also some choral moments and tribal percussion layered throughout.

Perhaps the strongest track is the KAYTRANADA-produced ‘Meditation’, which borrows the beat from ‘TRACK UNO’ on 99.9%. Jazmine Sullivan’s vocals melt over the melody, but the sound of gunfire at a go-go club venue is an abrupt and uncomfortabe ending.

Lust for women has always been a central theme in GoldLink’s music, but At What Cost is more provocative. It’s sex, life, death, and D.C. wrapped up in 14 hip-shaking tracks. Get up on it.


THE BREAKDOWN:

Based in: Washington, D.C.
Sounds like: KAYTRANADA, The Internet, Vince Staples.
Say what? One thing GoldLink needs before a show is “booty”, his favourite non-music related activity is “booty”, and his proudest career moment so far is “getting booty”. Apparently he really likes booty.

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Arianna loves watching crappy reality and drama shows, eating cheese and dancing in her pyjamas.

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