GoldLink stays true to formula with new album, but lacks innovation

James Wyatt

Characterized by his jittery flow and sensibilities for danceable rhythms, rapper GoldLink has been making waves in the hip-hop scene for a few years now. Hailing from Washington, D.C., GoldLink along with rappers Wale and Oddisee, have been some of the only few notable rappers that have represented the District of Columbia in the hip-hop scene.

GoldLink began his career by going by the name Gold Link James before he made his 2014 debut album “God Complex.” It was an album that was heavily grooved, based with a large electronic focus and it came out when GoldLink was only 20 years old.

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Upon the release of the album, GoldLink established himself as a one-of-a-kind artist. GoldLink’s music has about twice as many beats per minute than regular street rap and has a flow that moves at breakneck speed. His music is truly an onslaught of stimuli, as every inch is packed with flutters of jazzy beats combined with glamorous synths.

It was after the release of “God Complex” when GoldLink caught the attention of legendary producer and Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin. Barely 20 years old, GoldLink gained Rubin as a mentor before moving on to put out his next album, “And After That, We Didn’t Talk,” in 2015.

The album was a return to form for GoldLink and had a feature from Anderson .Paak who was then an up-and-comer on the brink of making it big before the release of his own sophomore album “Venice.” The album was met with a warm reception from critics and fans alike.

GoldLink’s latest release “At What Cost” is the rapper’s first release on his new label RCA,  and it does not stray too far from the GoldLink formula. The pace is as fast as ever and the D.C. native does not throw any curveballs.

The first track, “Same Clothes as Yesterday,” finds GoldLink sharing a spaced out, quick-paced beat with rapper Ciscero, as both of them rap at an incredible speed. A synthetic flute slides in and out between heavy claps as GoldLink sounds as cool as ever.

“Meditation” is another highlight, featuring Canadian producer KAYRANADA lending his talents along with singer Jazmine Sullivan. The producer’s signature drums help create a catchy tune as GoldLink’s flow glides effortlessly over them.

For a majority of the album, GoldLink is serving a specific sound of disco and 1980s-inspired rhythms with a myriad of features on each song. In fact, there are only two tracks that GoldLink goes unassisted on. Often, featured artists help create memorable hooks and break up portions of GoldLink’s chant-like delivery.

It is an interesting choice to feature this many artists and on some tracks. GoldLink is overpowered by the amount of talent on a track, giving little room to the MC. With so little room on some tracks, GoldLink does little to vary his vocals. Some tracks feature the exact same delivery and after awhile it becomes monotonous and individual tracks seem to blur together.

Should you listen to it? Maybe.

Anyone who was a fan of GoldLink’s previous output is going to be at home here listening to “At What Cost” but may find themselves wanting a little more innovation. It is a solid album with some cool tracks that are incredibly fitting for spring and summer, but sadly “At What Cost” lacks in memorability.

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Collegian reporter James Wyatt can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @jwwyatt2295.