Goldlink on the price of fame and returning to his roots
This month has been a pretty exciting one for new releases. One release that we’ve been particularly excited about came from DMV rapper, D’Anthony Carlos AKA GOLDLINK who dropped his highly anticipated new album, At What Cost. Since his breakthrough in 2013, Goldlink has gone from strength to strength as an artist. What began as more of a hobby after graduation, has evolved into one of DMV’s most distinctive and promising projects. Goldlink‘s first Mixtape The God Complex really put Goldlink on the map and helped to establish his initial fanbase. Goldlink seems to have an incredible, innate ability to always have his finger on the pulse. Without trying his music has broken through and resonated with so many people.
Since the release of the first mixtape Goldlink spent a lot of time working on his sound and building his networks. He released his follow up mixtape in collaboration with legendary producer RICK RUBIN called After That, We Didn’t Talk, and at that point the industry started to take note. A few glowing reviews from critics and Goldlink was signed by major label RCA Records. It’s been amazing watching Goldlink‘s creative networks grow on his journey to fame. He’s worked with some of the most iconic, out of the box artists such as KAYTRANADA, ANDERSON .PAAK, BADBADNOTGOOD, and truly blossomed as a performer. We chatted with Goldlink about his latest release, and how his background influenced the development of At What Cost.
How has being a DC rapper shaped your identity?
It’s really shaped everything about me. Growing up in DC shaped my perception, of both the world and of myself. It also inspired my style, and musical taste.
What’s the creative influence like in such a political part of the USA? Has it contextualised or influenced your voice as an artist?
Yeah definitely, it really affected so much of how I saw the world. Just the sound of the city and the people of the city really affect 100 percent of what I do. That’s really my musical influence, is the city.
I read in a previous interview that a lot of research that went into shaping At What Cost, what sort of research did you do as part of the process?
I went back home, to where I’m from and tapped into a lot of the old places that I used to hang out. I spent time talking to a lot of people and really going back to the place my mother tried to keep me away from. I really tried to capture that essence in the album.
You said your mum tried to keep you away from there, why is that?
It was a really dangerous place to grow up, it still is really dangerous. There were always a lot of fights, people getting killed, or robbed and getting into the street life. She just wanted to make sure I didn’t get into all of that.
Did you ever intend on your music becoming a tool for commenting on social or political issues?
Not really, to be honest with you. I just want to be able to tell my story as honestly as possible. And whatever the listener wants to take away from it, then so be it, but it’s not like I’m trying to stress a political or social issue.
If you discovered someone doing what you were doing in terms of musicality as a kid, how would you have reacted?
I’d say that probably would have been pretty strongly influenced. It would definitely inspire me to want do what I am doing.
‘At What Cost’ – That album title is something that would resonate well with pretty much anyone facing stark moral challenges, what kind of meaning does that album title have for you?
Yeah it does. I mean the album art is really symbolic; graphics of money, people wearing jewels, headscarves, fancy cars. What cost comes with these possessions? How many people died around you? How many people went to jail? What expense do these things come to the people around me, all these people who sacrifice their lives for me? At what cost for me to be successful now? These are all things I wanted to communicate.
Pretty much all my prayers were answered when I saw you and Kaytranada had collaborated on this body of work, can you tell us a bit about the collaborations on this album and how they came together?
Kaytranada is a good friend of mine, he always looks out for me and makes sure I’m always linked up with some good people. And then I just kinda pick and choose the best things he sends my way, and run with that. He always sends me the hardest or most orthodox things that people don’t choose, I kinda take that as a talent.
Were there any people you were particularly excited about working with on this album?
You’ve said in a previous interview that you “like being on your own, building on your own, standing on your own.” How do you think your perspective on collaboration has changed?
I’ve definitely realised the value of collaboration, you can do things that are not possible or not able to do on your own. I think collaboration is a very important thing for finding new sounds.
What were the reactions like from your friends and family?
Everyone around me loved it, they thought I represented my home in a great way. That’s all that really matters. Everybody was very happy about my portrayal of the city.
Has there ever been a moment that made you realise how big your impact has been?
I think it’s just so much bigger than I ever could have imagined. I never set out with that kind of intention about how big this could be.
What goes into a live Goldlink performance?
I just have to try and make it an experience. I try to make it into a party feel, so it doesn’t really feel like you’re at a concert, and paying just to stand there. I treat it like everybody should be having fun, everybody should be moving around. You don’t even have to look at me. It’s almost like I’m a host to the party you paid to get into.
Did you throw parties back home?
Nah, but we had these insane native parties, with our local music and everyone would come out. That was an experience, so I kind of tried take on some of that as inspiration and build on it.
What’s coming up? Any live shows to accompany the album?
Nothing locked in, but I’m working on it…
Words by ROSIE RAE