On new music, evolving as an artist and his forthcoming album Diaspora.
It’s been a huge five years for GoldLink. Born D’Anthony Carlos, the DMV rapper first made waves back in 2014 with his first mixtape The God Complex when he was just 20 years old. Championing a new distinctive sound he called “future bounce”, which combined smooth R&B elements with a funk and soul groove and more club-led production, it was both nostalgic and completely new – an intricate balance that set GoldLink up to carve out a space that’s all his own.
With two more eclectic mixtapes – And After That, We Didn’t Talk (2015) and At What Cost (2017) – the rapper cemented this position, stepping out from his elusive persona and into the limelight as one of the most exciting emerging artists of our time.
Back in May, GoldLink returned with “Zulu Screams” (feat.A Maleek Berry and Bibi Bourelly), an infectiously feel-good number that’s spent the past few weeks soundtracking all the best first parties of summer, followed by last week’s “Joke Ting” (feat. Ari PenSmith) in line with an announcement confirming his forthcoming album Diaspora, due to drop later this month.
Ahead of its release, we caught up with the twice-Grammy-nominated artist to talk new tracks, his journey so far and the album to come…
Let’s start with your new track “Joke Ting”. It’s big! What can you tell us about it?
Coupe big as fuck like a cruise ship. Yeah, back on his Crew shit! It’s self-explanatory.
Looking back… Your sound started out as “future bounce” and has evolved into something uncategorisable. How’s it developed since you first started?
My sound reached a point of uniqueness that still has traces of the sound I found true to me since the beginning, but a more evolved, well-versed version.
You were quite mysterious when your career began – not really showing your face, not having social media. Why did this start? Why did it change?
It started because I didn’t want people to focus on the face so much, but to grade the product for what it is presented. It was like selling an iPhone without a box. It’s still an incredible product. The thing that changed it – not drastically – was recognising how important it is to fully highlight the product, with the packaging that people can also connect with. Just wisening up a bit on how to sell the product.
What’s been the most surreal moment of your journey so far?
Accomplishing every single thing that I set my mind out to do. Every accomplishment, big or small are, all surreal.
Your last album was At What Cost, back in 2017 – can we expect a new album soon?
Yes. What people don’t know is that At What Cost was my breakout mixtape, according to label agreement. So the next thing will actually be my debut album. And for those who want to still consider this next one as my sophomore album, I’ll also be very glad to hold that title as well!
You’ve said in the past that your music is deeply rooted in your home, the DMV – do you think now you’re travelling around a lot more, have your inspirations have changed?
Yes, my inspirations have changed drastically, naturally, because I was able to be exposed to more. But D.C. is still the root of all my success as far as perspective.
“Zulu Screams” is such an amazing track – can you tell me what the inspiration was for it? You’ve said before you’re building a new, fantasy world – why did you want to incorporate elements of the mystical?
I’ll say there’s this sci-fi element to Zulu that makes the track infectious and draws you inward into hypnosis. The repeatability is the only one of its kind all year. The track is best understood with the body of work it belongs too.
Why is it so important to continually merge elements of your music with influences of the African diaspora?
It’s important because we’re 6-8 generations removed from where we started from. It’s about time we turn around and bridge that gap before it becomes 15-17 generations removed – then we’re in deep trouble.
You’ve been nominated for a Grammy twice and so early on in your career – that must have felt amazing? What’s the aim next?
The two Grammy nominations back to back were amazing, especially since I felt like it was so early in my career and I haven’t really delivered my full on best just yet, which is encouraging. The next aim is to actually win a few just to prove to the people back home that: Yes, we’re good enough. Yes, we are special enough. And now that I’ve won, this means nothing. So yes, try and win as many as you deserve, but know there isn’t any pressure because we already won our first one – through me, because of you.
What have you been most surprised by on your journey so far?
I’m mainly surprised at how unfazed I am in this industry and how focused I remained to the objective.
What are you excited about this year?
My debut album…