As with a great deal of the music we’re currently listening to on a regular basis, GoldLink came onto our radar through the ever expanding musical portal that is Soulection. When we say portal, it really is taking music to new worlds and dimensions showcasing what they describe as The Sound of Tomorrow. A close associate of Soulection, GoldLink performed at their sold out London KOKO show earlier this year and, along with a lineup of other artists, exemplified what the movement is all about. At only 22, the young rapper has a whole career ahead of him, so we wanted to find out how he got there and where he’s going.
We entered the fairly nondescript room to find GoldLink had taken over an entire leather sofa like it were his throne, arms spread out across the back and feet up on the coffee table, he looked comfortable and self assured as one of hip hops growing young stars, rapidly gaining momentum. He looked fresh faced for someone who’d just flown into London only to be immediately thrown in front of the media. If you hadn’t seen already, GoldLink has recently dropped his much anticipated project And After That We Didn’t Talk. We began by asking about his last two records, however with a lot of information out their already we tried not to dwell on these for too long, fully aware that he must have been asked the same questions a million times before. For us there were other topics, less touched upon, that we wanted to spend more time on.
Aaron: For those who don’t know already could you briefly explain where the The God Complex and And After That, We Didn’t Talk (AATWDT) came from, what inspired those records and where do they differ or crossover?
GoldLink: The God Complex was a thematic album about a car crash and to me it signifies death. The other concept that went it it was the idea that everyone should strive to be like God because he’s perfect, even though we can’t actually be perfect, we should try to be. It was kinda a religious twist but at the same time it was about a very cocky, very conceited, very egotistic kid who thinks that he’s a God.
AATWDT ties back into The God Complex but it’s also the product of a breakup, The God Complex is speedy, sporadic, vulgar, egotistical, while AATWDT is a little more mature, more mellow, more musical.
A: Are the stories you tell autobiographical or do you play a character on those records?
G: Autobiographical, they’re definitely about me.
A: In an interview on Soulection Radio you said that And After That, We Didn’t Talk is a conceptual album about an experience of heartbreak, do you think pain is a necessary part of the creative process?
G: Yeah for sure, it brings so much emotion out in you. I try not to premeditate what’s going to happen in the studio, instead I write and then just go in. I’ll go through it after and if there’s mistakes there they often get left in for a more organic feel. So pain is a very necessary part of the process.
A: Earlier this year you linked up and worked with Rick Rubin, what would you say is the most important thing you learnt during that time?
G: Just to focus on the art, he centres the creative process. As a young artist it’s hard because there are so many other things jumping into your frame and so many other things that you have to jump into, you have to learn to get used to all these extras which can take your time away from the creative process or music. His thing is to centre the music and bring you back to what got you there in the first place.
Upon asking the next question, GoldLink hesitated slightly before answering, less so because he was uncertain of his answer and more so that he wanted to articulate his response in such a way that correctly reflected his feelings on the topic. He didn’t answer in great detail though and thus I feel the answer is to listen to his lyrics and take from them what you will.
A: What influence does modern America have on your music? Could you perhaps explain the motivation behind some of the early lines in Zipporah?
G: The lyrics come from being black, in America, just going through everyday life and the things that it makes your think on a daily basis. Just being black in America. Going back to your earlier question though, it’s a struggle that I’d say adds to the creative process.
A: What are the biggest challenges you face being a young person working in the music industry?
G: I guess just being young in the music industry in general is difficult because you are young and you have to learn everything very quick, you have to grow up really fast and maintain composure at all times.
Composed was certainly a word I’d use to describe his current attitude, however I did feel that he was a little tired of talking about himself, so I changed the direction briefly to discuss London and his thoughts on the city.
A: Obviously you’re here in London right now, do you have much of a relationship with the city, it’s people, it’s music scene?
G: Yeah for sure, I love the young artists. I see a lot of young artists, photographers and creatives here, especially kids, I’m always surprised to see kids 15-18 over here who are very very creative.
A: And the UK music scene, are you into that at all? You feel there’s a different vibe compared to what you’re used to in the states?
G: I am now, I’ve just fallen in love with hip hop and grime. For sure, I think it’s thriving here and I love the togetherness of guys like Barney, Tom Misch, NAO and Mura masa, it’s great to see them support each other. It seems they’ve got a really tight circle and everyone grew up together and is connected in some way. Everyone’s got ties and the support is crazy.
A: We interviewed Barney a few months back and he mentioned you as an inspiration so it’s great to hear that the connection is even making its way across to and from the state, everyone’s on a similar wavelength.
I think the next question threw GoldLink off a little, perhaps he wasn’t expecting to divert so drastically from music but I felt it an important and interesting question to ask a young male musician. I think without a doubt his answer would be different in 5-10 years time with more life experience under his belt but he still explained his current feelings well. My mistake perhaps was forgetting that he’s no older than me despite the level of success he’s already had.
A: This weekend in London the Southbank Centre held the Being a Man Festival, what does in mean to you to “be a man” within the sphere that you live?
G: *laughs* Woah. What does it mean to be a man, is that what you said? Umm I think to me to be a man you have to be responsible, you have to compromise and you become a protector. Being a man it tight but it also sucks, you have to compromise a lot of time.
A: If you don’t mind me asking, did you have a particular male role model when you where growing up?
A: So you had to find your own way?
G: *nods* Uh-huh.
A: I’m always intrigued by the link and association between music and memory, are there any songs that stand out for you as being associated with a particular point in time?
G: Yeah Omarion – Touch, you know what I’m saying. When that joint came out, I’m gonna say 05, I took one of my dads old videos. We had an old ass TV with a VCR built in, that shit was advanced at the time, I took one of his videos, recorded the entire Omarion – Touch video and watched it and learned the dance steps… True story!
A: Do you still know the dance, could you still do it?
G: I could do the dance right now!
A: What one piece of advice would you give your 16 year old self?
G: You know what I would tell myself at 16, I would tell him to go to school and go to class. Don’t talk to girls, have two friends, go to band, join the choir and play a sport, then go home.
A: Inspiration behind the album, connection with heartbreak, is that something you’d rather express through your music than talk about separately? I was scrolling through your Twitter feed and noticed that your pinned tweet was about lost girls. Are you usually so open and public or is that something you prefer to express more through your lyrics?
G: That’s a good question, the answer is both. Growing up I had a lot of failed relationships, the album [AATWDT] came from a lot of lot reflection and me thinking why do I keeping losing people? Or why do I keep making this mistake? When you reflect you start to see patterns in your behaviour and think maybe you a have a problem here or there, when you see something wrong you start to ask what is it that’s causing it. You look to figure out certain things.
Communication is something I’m really bad at, maybe if I said or didn’t say something I could have saved a relationship, or things could have turned out better. Honestly I made certain records for certain girls in the past, I would say certain things and maybe they would understand it but someone else wouldn’t understand it. That pinned tweet is sort of like a heads up to them but also to me, it was partly for me and my reflective journey.
A: What do you think the next steps are for you looking towards the future? How do you see your relationship with Soulection, for example, developing?
G: Definitely growing with Soulection but staying on my own too, I wanna go down a more musical route, I wanna take it back to actually making music. Instead of just rapping over beats or computer music, I wanna get real instruments involved. Making actual music is key to me.
You can download GoldLink’s latest album ‘And After That We Didn’t Talk’ on iTunes now.