The enigmatic Goldlink has begun to open up. After a rambunctious effort with The God Complex, he’s gone back inside himself to pull out a little more compassion for his legion of newly smitten fans. It’s not that he didn’t feel compassion before, but after you see how your music affects people you can’t help but feel different, right?
It feels almost like Goldlink has already gone through a full career of persona changes in only a few years. He wore a mask and now he doesn’t. His music has been described as “future bounce,” which is like funk, blues and melody fed through digital feeds to create resonance, but “Sober Thoughts” is less zip and more thought. Maybe that’s the point. “I don’t really give a fuck about who wants to give an opinion of what I say on like “Sober Thoughts” or something like that where I am talking about the abuse of women,” he says. I don’t give a fuck about that. I like being the spokesperson.
The interdependence between we 21st-century citizens is where Goldlink has landed. Perhaps it was purposeful. Gold is, after all, one of the most conductive elements. And, in this day, where the virtual world holds as much sway as the real one, maybe Goldlink is here to provide connectivity, a medium between one world and the other.
Happy, Wise & Euphoric as Goldlink Embarks
DX: Can you describe the place you are in at the current moment?
Goldlink: Euphoric. Happy. Wise, yet very in touch.
DX: You also describe yourself as mysterious and you wore a mask for a while. I really didn’t know where that would go if you would be the next MF Doom or something. Now, you’re talking about “feeling yourself.” That’s a very stark change. Does that have to do with the euphoria you feel?
Goldlink: Yes, it’s more of meeting people and seeing how your music affects so many people. It’s only fair that they get a piece of you because these people are spending time listening to you and money to see you for you to keep them outside of the zone like that. It’s kind of unfair. It’s really fucked up. [Laughs] For me, it’s more like let them know what you’ve been through because maybe you can help somebody. I guess that’s where I’m coming from.
DX: What you have been through is still kind of a mystery. Can you talk about some periods in your life that have affected your music so far?
Goldlink: No. Not yet. I guess that’s more for the music and when that comes out, I’ll elaborate more.
Not Sitting At The Hip Hop Table
DX: Who in your peer group right now do you look up to?
Goldlink: Nobody, for real. Do you mean musically or generally?
Goldlink: I don’t look up to nobody, for real, especially in my peer group. I don’t give a fuck about nobody. No really, I don’t look up to nobody.
DX: You don’t listen to anyone’s music before or during the creation process?
Goldlink: No, I mean. I listen to rock bands and shit. Like, The Strokes. I listen to The Strokes. They’re fucking amazing. Julian Casablancas is crazy. The Smiths and shit, I got they whole discography. I’m late, though. I’m on that shit. Nowadays, nah. But the old shit. Nothing to do with Hip Hop is my shit.
DX: Yet Hip Hop is the lane you’ve chosen to express yourself.
Goldlink: Yeah. By nature, I guess it started that way on accident. I could rap really good on accident. I talk tight and it just sounded…I don’t know. It’s just such a big genre for me. At the end of the day, rap is the language of the world. Everybody can speak that shit.
DX: What people really want to know about you is that you’re never going to dumb down your music in any way. Has anyone spoken to you about that and if they have or if they haven’t, how do you feel about making music that is more pop/mainstream?
Goldlink: This is the thing; I don’t have a problem with that at all. I think you can do that without compromising your creativity. That’s the problem. So for me, all the people that I named before, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, The Smiths, fucking, The Strokes, Julian by himself, fucking Foo Fighters and shit. That shit is kind of pop. My Chemical Romance, that is some pop shit. Everybody I named has a pop sensibility and pop means popular music so it has a pop sensibility to it.
But there’s such rawness to My Chemical Romance’s “Teenagers” song. It’s such a punk essence song. If you do that without compromise and it naturally becomes popular music, there’s no fucking problem with that shit. I think it’s more like if you don’t compromise your creativity and integrity, I think pop music is fine.
DX: How do you find your creativity? What motivates you creatively? What do you see that makes you creative?
Goldlink: People: people and culture. That shit is the most inspiring thing. If you go outside and go to an area with a bunch of people you will be so inspired. You will be inspired. Kids inspire me. That’s my new shit now. I’ve been away from the Internet purposely to live my life.
DX: You got off the Internet?
Goldlink: Yeah. I don’t run Twitter. I don’t run Facebook. I don’t run anything. I just don’t do anything. I’ve been more at ease and it’s dope. I fuck with people and shit now and that shit is cool. That’s my shit.
DX: Why do you think getting off the Internet has helped you do that?
Goldlink: Because we are all so tied up in the perception of everybody else. We’re always looking at what’s new or what’s happening right this second, everything’s right at your fingertips. When you don’t have that anymore and you kind of just take a step back and live your life the way you’re supposed to be at first [and] then everything goes back into perspective and you’re more self-aware. You see things for how they actually are and not how they’re perceived. That kind of helps you out. It helps me out.
DX: What’s it like out there?
Goldlink: You just see people growing every day. Everything around you grows. “Oh, so we’re wearing Chelsea boots today?” Cool. “That’s what we’ve been doing for a few months?” All right, “Oh, this is what we listening to?” All right. “This is where we shopping at today?” Cool. “Oh, that’s the new slang word?” All right, bet. That’s definitely what it is. Just being in touch. I sound a like a hippie. Goddamn.
DX: I think the new word is Indigo. There’s Raury. There’s Willow Smith. There’s nothing wrong with being a hippie.
Goldlink: I’m that but a hood version.
DX: There’s something about you that wants to extend out towards other people. What do you say to those people who look at you as a guiding light in that way?
Goldlink: I’m still trying. Let’s all try together.
Goldlink, Soulection, “Sober Thoughts,” & What Hip Hop Means
DX: Kaytranada produced “Summer Thoughts”. Where do you fall in terms of that dynamic area of music?
Goldlink: I want to say I’m the voice that’s added to the sounds to give it an even-more-global-appeal. At the end of the day, the beats are amazing and they draw a lot of people and it’s very culturally important. So, they can only go as far as they can allow it without anybody actually having a voice and being a champion of the sound to move it even further than where it has already gotten. I guess I kind of just play the voice of what’s to come.
DX: You mention voice and one of the most interesting aspects of Hip Hop are the ability to orate, to provide poetry, to provide meaning to things that are often just seen as what they are is almost one of the points of Hip Hop. You bring a different perspective to that. Why do you continue to do that versus going another way that would get you richer sooner?
Goldlink: I’m presenting it in the rawest possible way that I can do it because that’s kind of the way I consume music. Based off the rawness of everything I like to speak to my music in a completion of thought and a lot of emotion. That’s the only type of music I listen to. I like back-stories to music. For example, My Chemical Romance’s “Helena” is one of my favorite songs just because he made it for when his grandmother died and his grandmother’s name was Helena.
So when you hear the story you understand the song. You hear it from a completely different perspective. I guess I’m kind of a sucker for the emotion of music. I guess it’s kind of odd, but it’s the way I appreciate music. I present my stuff that way as well.
Channelling Tupac, Maybe
DX: There was a Noisy article that even compared you a little bit to Tupac. How did you feel about that comparison?
Goldlink: I guess? He got it. I guess so you can say that. More so maybe the essence, I guess, that everybody said Pac had. I guess so. I guess we are comparable, in a way. He’s really raw and real in the shit he says. He doesn’t have a filter and I am the same way. I don’t really give a fuck about who wants to give an opinion of what I say on like “Sober Thoughts” or something like that where I am talking about the abuse of women. I don’t give a fuck about. I like being the spokesperson.
I like being the mouthpiece of shit that people don’t want to talk about. People are like, “Don’t curse.” But people curse every fucking day. “Don’t hit women,” but people actually hit women. So why don’t we talk about it instead of trying to hide it under the rugs and act like it doesn’t exist? Because that’s not what’s going to solve the problem. That’s just kind of how it is compared that way.
DX: A lot of people try to sweep things under the rug in terms of how black music is being treated these days. In terms of the falling sales but there are a lot of re-appropriation issues going on as well and coming from such an eclectic background do you honestly think re-appropriation of black music is a thing or do you think that these people are just making their own music?
Goldlink: That’s a great ass question! I have no idea what they’re trying to do. I have no idea. I really don’t know. That’s a great ass question.
DX: From Iggy Azaela to the Robin Thicke and Pharrell thing. It seems that everyone is trying to grasp a new sound by reinventing old sounds.
Goldlink: Yeah. That shit’s gay.
It’s All About The Audience
Goldlink: Yes it does. Hence as to why I make a completely different kind of music but almost a mature extensive piece of what I’ve done already but it kind of changes in a way and that’s why there’s a more content to it. Just because, God damn, when you meet people and you see what kind of effect you have, now you almost, unfortunately, become reliable for what you say because now you are responsible for people’s lives.
I had no idea because I was clapping for me. Hence, why I had to curse because I don’t give a fuck, but now I do. Fuck. I still don’t care, but I care so much more about people than I did before. I’m just more apologetic about it these days.
DX: Do you think that you’ll ever get to that point where you’re just like, “Alright, I’m going to close myself off again”?
Goldlink: Yeah. Or, maybe you just don’t ever open yourself up too wide where you don’t have to do that. I don’t want to give you niggas too much; I’ll give you, here, here and here so I don’t have to backtrack. But, you don’t want to give them too little because they’ll kind of check out on you.
DX: Why wouldn’t you want to give them too much?
Goldlink: Because, too much of anything is bad for you. You too nice to a girl, she won’t fuck with you. If you’re too mean, she won’t fuck with you. I don’t know, I don’t make the rules.
Andre Grant is an NYC native turned L.A. transplant that has contributed to a few different properties on the web and is now the Features Editor for HipHopDX. He’s also trying to live it to the limit and love it a lot. Follow him on Twitter @drejones.