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I’m a sucker for album with a good back story. GoldLink executes an album that celebrates his city with excellence with At What Cost. Upon At What Cost‘s release, GoldLink told VIBE that “My biggest influence is my city.” Nothing does more to exemplify that statement than the tracks GoldLink puts out on the album.
GoldLink first started making his name in 2014 with the mixtape The God Complex. He immediately made an impact on audiences with his self-termed style, “future bounce”. 2015’s And After That, We Didn’t Talk, followed in the same sonic groove. At What Cost flips the script on his first two releases, moving away from “future bounce” and more towards the regional sounds of D.C.
The growth of GoldLink’s wider image is evidenced by the impressive feature list on At What Cost. Collaborators include KAYTRANADA, fellow D.C. native Wale and Ciscero, among many others. Breaking from the norm of most modern hip-hop releases, none of the features on this album felt superfluous or unnecessary.
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GoldLink takes listeners through a full musical tour of the DMV on At What Cost. The album pulls heavily from go-go music, one of the only definitively D.C. genres. Go-go is an offshoot of funk that originated the 60s and 70s. As evidenced by the influence on GoldLink’s newest work, the genre has yet to lose its sway in the area.
The influence of go-go is obvious on tracks like “Some Girl (feat. Steve Lacy)” and “Meditation (feat. Jazmine Sullivan)”. It’s a good match too, as GoldLink has always followed a groovy feel across all of his projects. GoldLink also shows his mastery of slower, more R&B influenced tracks as well, with his verses over Hare Squead’s original on “Herside Story”, a standout track on the album. On the other extreme, “Kokamoe Freestyle” is one of the best pure rap songs of the year, with a unique beat that’s the hardest on the album.
There’s so much to take from this album. It’s a loud, overt celebration of the DMV and D.C. culture. It’s a narrative a man living in the city, exposing us, the listeners, to the world and culture that created it.