Rapper on the Rise: GoldLink Commands ’Sco Stage

Sam Winward, Staff Writer

Whether his attempt to conceal his identity is based in humility or a calculated marketing scheme, GoldLink wants his music to speak for itself. Either way, the artist revealed a previously covert identity to an excited audience Saturday night at the ’Sco. The unassuming 21-year-old is fresh off his critically acclaimed debut mixtape, The Gold Complex.

While many rappers are eager to bask in the limelight, GoldLink has been deliberately secretive about his identity. Strangely, he is nowhere to be found in his recent music video for “When I Die,” which features fellow rapper Black Zheep as the lead actor.

“A lot of the homies I grew up with listen to GoldLink and don’t know it’s me,” he said in an interview with Complex magazine.

GoldLink maintained powerful control over a stage in spite of his slight physical presence. His eyes remained impressively focused on the audience — even when an audience member decided to lie down on stage, nearly at his feet. While his presence on stage was not extremely energetic, his music conveyed an engaging focus and intensity.

One of GoldLink’s producers, Lamak, has coined the term “future bounce” for his distinct sound. His songs featured upbeat tempos resembling house music’s synths and were grounded with groovy drum and bass lines. He has a unique criterion for selecting instrumental tracks worthy of his vocals — ideally they must have a danceable feel that evolves without respect to the traditional pop structure. Thus, GoldLink is left with instrumental templates many rappers shy away from. The nontraditional nature of his final product takes multiple listens to fully appreciate.

Following a squeaky instrumental intro to “Sober Thoughts,” GoldLink strung lines together across metric boundaries, creating an off-balance but pleasant rhythmic style in a Chance the Rapper–esque verse. Not until he reached the hook of the song did GoldLink reveal his singing abilities. While many rappers layer or Auto-Tune their voices during melodies, GoldLink’s unaltered talent held its own; he could afford to utilize more singing in his work. In October on the Lily Mercer Show, the rapper admitted that the inclusion of singing in his pieces was a recent addition, as he was unaware that it was in his arsenal of musical tools. Regardless, the smooth undertone of his voice can be heard, even as he raps with speed.

GoldLink’s intense lyrics fostered an intimate set, despite the party-like atmosphere, and danced around heavy subjects in a playful manner. With a tone somewhere between rapping and singing, he said, “When I die, I just want my father to apologize. When I die, I hope my ex don’t uncover my lies.” His deeply personal lyrics will undoubtedly garner a following as he continues to reveal and develop his artistry.