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Goldlink's "And After That We Didnt Talk" Review

Richie Kamtchoum

Mon November 16, 2015 12:04 pm

Rapid rises are nothing uncommon to hip hop music. Heck, Bryson Tiller and Fetty Wap come to mind as a couple of artists that have blown up immediately. Hailing from the DMV, Goldlink is another one who cultivated a fanbase fairly quickly. After the release of 2014’s The God Complex, Goldlink’s first musical offering, he garnered millions of plays on Soundcloud and was invited to be a 2015 XXL Freshman. Armed with a new type of music style self-proclaimed as “future bounce”, Goldlink’s music was fresh and riveting, with a cranked up BPM and quick witted flows. As meteoric as Godlink’s rise has been, maybe nothing captures his rise as importantly as the Rick Rubin cosign. With Rubin essentially acting as a coach, mentor, and musical legend backing Goldlink, expectations were sky high for his next musical offering. After a year and a half, Goldlink has self-released his debut album, And After That We Didn’t Talk.  The album literally picks up immediately after The God Complex, serving as sort of a sequel to the mixtape’s story, we hear tire screeching and the sound of an accident. “After You Left” kicks the album off, but instead of a break-up themed song, the album is about how life has changed after Goldlink left home, crammed with semi-conscious offerings. The production is strikingly slowed down from The God Complex, a theme found throughout the rest of the album. The song presents the female character the break-up is surrounded upon, Zipporah, towards the end, with lyrics “Porrah, Porrah yeah you drive me crazy Why you leave me, baby? Yeah, why you leave me, baby?”. These are the only lyrics on the intro that have some semblance of a break-up song. Hip-Hop DXwriter Blake Gillespie critiques the song saying “This is where We Didn’t Talk stumbles. It’s admirable GoldLink wants to push conscientious topics into a break-up record, but he’s an untrustworthy narrator in his attempt. His ambition outstrips his prowess at the moment,  like jumping from the foul line before first proving you can even touch the rim.” Following the intro, we get “Zipporah”, the first song on the album that feels as if it is dedicated to the failed relationship the album is themed around. After a few listens, it is becoming clear that his failed relationship might be a concept on the current state of black life in America in the form of a love-letter to Zipporah. The album at this point has lush production and a grandiose feel, a trend that follows the rest of the album. The next song, “Dark skinned women”, is probably the best song on the album. Although the song sounds like it could be ripped from Chance the Rapper’s recent catalogue, the jazz interplayed with the future-bounce creates a lush offering layered with several genre styles. Goldlink is back to his trademark rap style on the song and impressively squeezes in wordplay and alliteration on the song. He raps, “Pop goes weasel, pop goals, pop the goat Pussy pop bottles, pop babies, rock the boat”. The Missy Elliot sampled “Spectrum” follows, and Goldlink raps about his main love interest vaguely if not disinterested. The album picks up again with “Dance on Me”, the pre-released album single garnering buzz. The dance-heavy track is reminiscent of The God Complex, and finds Goldlink serenading a lover on the hook while aggressively rapping at competitors in the verses. 

“Late Night” ft. Maseago offers a contradicting message, in which Goldlink admits to not being faithful to his current lover, singing “I admit it, I admit it Yeah, you're not the only woman in my phone, yeah I be up late chattin', interactin', straight mackin'”. However, his current lover believes him to be a good guy, as we can hear a women on the background talking to her friends, saying “Even when they say that he's the bad guy. You hear sh*t, but you find how to tune it out. Life's too short to ask questions. When you see Goldlink...just know that's all me, baby”. The album to this point has had a steady output without a major low. The theme continues with “Unique” ft. Anderson Paak. Paak, in the only rap feature on the album, offers a SURF-like feature, echoing a playful sentiment with a welcomed voice instead of Goldlink’s. The album’s cohesive output continues with “Palm Trees’. A lush paradise song, Goldlink find’s himself in euphoria with his perfect girl. In “Palm Trees”, Goldlink sings “Underneath the palm trees You can leave your worries I don't need nobody You and me together”. The album continues with “Polarized”, which has perhaps the most layered production on the album. We hear synths, distorted vocals, 808s and a marching band like sound. “Polarized” continues the theme of a perfect relationship while Goldlink ponders his lover’s true intentions. Next is “New Black”, certainly the most conscious song on the album. Goldlink channels his inner Kendrick Lamar and places the content and song at the end, like To Pimp a Butterfly’s “Blacker the Berry”. “New Black” is a racially charged song that lacks the emotion to pack a true punch, like the aforementioned Lamar song. The Daily Californian writer Jason Chen echoes a similar sentiment, saying “In the same vein, the rest of GoldLink’s persona echoes the work of more established rappers but lacks their conviction”. “See I Miss” features the simplest production on the album, reminiscent of a neo-soul song, in which Goldlink laments the failed relationship with the album’s main love interest. And After That We Didn’t Talk plays out like a musical. The album has a more focused theme thanGod Complex, and Goldlink channels many influences. However, Goldlink rarely capitalized on his “future-bounce” sound that he is cultivating. The album sees Goldlink stretch himself a bit too thin in an attempt to be a super-musician. He wants to sing, he wants to rap, he wants to be lyrical, he wants to dance, etc. Ultimately, Goldlink leaves listeners scattered in the grand scheme of things. DJbooth writer Brendan Varan says “AATWDT has those moments in abundance, high points that fit the overall feeling of the album but with enough variance to truly stand out on their own”.  Goldlink does not really pick a path in which he wants to go, although he does a valiant job of trying to cover base on many topics. Overall, AATWDT isn’t a standout or classic album, but evokes feelings from several great albums from this year, including SURF, To Pimp a Butterfly, and Black Messiah.7.5/10.

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