As it stands, modern day casual Hip Hop listeners have become increasingly slow to embrace newer acts that aren't loose extensions (if not blatant carbon copies) of already viral sensations. This explains why Washington, D.C. native GoldLink has remained relatively undiscovered by the masses despite having a stellar 2015 where he built a devoted grassroots following.
In recent years, Washington, D.C. has become an unlikely incubator for worldly, adventurous dance music: the mutant grooves of Future Times, the Ethiopian house of 1432 R, Peoples Potential Unlimited's retro-futuristic funk. More than any of his contemporaries, DMV rapper GoldLink has drawn up these sounds like a sponge. On mixtapes like The God Complex and last year's collection of And After That, We Didn't Talk remixes, he presented an aesthetic he called "future bounce": a fluorescent, kinetic sound that's as indebted to house music as to hip-hop.
On his studio debut, GoldLink pays homage to DC while giving out-of-towners an intimate tour of his stomping grounds. Rousing yet dark, GoldLink fuses his signature future bounce style with strong go-go influences, delivering a more polished version of DC's ultra-regional sound.
Like his earlier projects, the dominant themes on At What Cost are love, partying and death -- sometimes all on the same track. A lusty dance session turns deadly on "Meditation," while "We Will Never Die" is an anthem for hardened souls with nothing to lose.
In an interview with the Fader just before the release of At What Cost, D.C. rapper Goldlink spoke of the album's strong go-go funk influence, the way his words and the album's structure and every other element is all about his city, and how the music of the album is the music of D.C. "It almost shapes us as a community and who we are. It's like the music is the background for the entire city," he said.
For the past three years, GoldLink has been low-key carving his own lane within rap but has yet to reach the level of success he so unequivocally deserves. Since his 2014 debut, The God Complex, he's been delivering smart rhymes over quickly-paced dance-centered beats--and not in the way Pitbull does either. His ability to combine smart wordplay with rapid-fire rhythm has brought him critical acclaim but not the mainstream triumph.