Relatable rhymes, braggadocious bravado and heartfelt honesty
It wasn’t long ago that I posted GoldLink’s Sober Thoughts – I’d literally had it on repeat. Now I’ve managed to pry myself away from that track, my ears have been blessed with even more of his music in the form of his debut album (mixtape) The God Complex. The DMV rapper who for a long time managed to stay largely anonymous – even in his videos – has adopted the term ‘Future Bounce’ to describe his music. It is definitely the sound of the future and it sure makes you do the latter.
It opens with the far from covertly catchy, Fingalick produced Ay Ay; one of my favourite tracks on the album. The audible bounciness of the track takes on a literal effect as GoldLink demands that girls “bounce that ass for [his] kinfolk.” It ends with a rather nostalgic sampling of Patrice Rushen’s Forget Me Nots (perhaps better recognised by myself and some as Will Smith’s Men In Black).
Ay Ay sets a very good tone for the rest of the project, it is lyrically as “braggadocios” as it is honest, addressing a number of topics to be elaborated upon as you listen to the ensuing tracks. “You are listening to the God Complex,” a female voice ad-libs before the outro; almost in preparation for the “full circle,” GoldLink states the project takes.
The end of the album slows considerably, closing with the thought-inducing When I Die. He raps about his needs, hopes, wants and wonders – post-death – informing the listener that he’s “just crazy nigga, who found out how to live life sober.”
Everything in between is utterly audibly exhilarating. The sample sprinklings throughout The God Complex may surprise you, as you stumble upon a slowed sample of Britney’s Toxic at the end of How It’s Done.
A Pharcyde (lyric) sample opens the potentially purest hip-hop song on the album, aptly titled Hip-Hop (Interlude) and perhaps ironically, is reminiscent of an old school sound that preceded the cross-over sound prevalent in the genre today – pushed even further by GoldLink, himself.
The trance, techno infused CNTRL is another of the album’s highlights, along with the similarly inspired Divine. The beautifully, bouncy and oh so improper Fuck Being Polite does everything you might expect it to. Not only does it offend but also informs the listener in no uncertain terms “understand who I fucking be/ got a fucking problem? Don’t fuck with me/ I’m gold, yeah, that young nigga who nice.” You can’t even be mad because he is what he claims to be and it’s a lot more than “nice.”
He opens the Louie Lastic produced Bedtime Story with some seriously arrogant and potentially controversial lyrics; “she put the CD in and said there is a God/ and read the bible just to know that the I’m the ahmadinejad/ I killed Osama burned a few Qurans for me to get this far/ devil dancing music, you can feel him in your car,” over a faintly classic hip-hop beat, combined with a go-go sound, that works ridiculously well with his relentless flow. Towards the end of the track comes another sample, in the form of Timbaland & Magoo’s single, Drop.
Explaining his thought process behind The God Complex title, GoldLink explains: to me it has two meanings. I had a girlfriend whose father was a philosopher and he would say that people should strive to be like God because God is perfect. Nobody is perfect but why don’t we at least attempt to be perfect.
Then when you look up the God Complex in the dictionary it’s somebody who’s overly confident. Someone who isn’t humble, you know what I’m saying? A very, very arrogant person. I took both of the definitions and put them into one. I would say some braggadocios shit on “Bedtime Stories,” and switch it up on a different song.
As aforementioned, it is a very honest first project with so many relatable lyrics. He addresses issues including relationships and cheating, death and suicide, a crazy childhood and his father as well as his humble, admissive need for Jesus – despite The God Complex he possesses.
Yes, the genre has a name but the likely ambiguity of Future Bounce, understandably does little to prepare you for the roller coaster of sounds The God Complex will take you on. One thing does stay consistent though and that is GoldLink’s faultless lyrical delivery – at whatever pace he’s deciding to deliver.
In a musical world where comparisons are inevitable – I previously noted my hesitance to acknowledge a Kendrick Lamar-esque flow – which expanded into my wondering if he was TDE influenced. I picked up on possible hints of Schoolboy Q’s hippie style but I think GoldLink’s overall sound is too unique to to be compared.
Upon my initial listen to The God Complex I also pondered an ASAP Rocky influence as I noticed a perhaps borrowed line from Rocky’s Keep It G which appeared on his LiveLoveA$AP mixtape. On Fuck Being Polite GoldLink spits “I get get my dick licked.” But what’s one line eh?
As I kept listening these comparisons were overshadowed, with the possibility of an ASAP influence grinding to an abrupt halt when I read GoldLink’s interview on Mass Appeal. Explaining why he’s so secretive about his identity, the rapper (who for a long time had friends and family who were oblivious to his musical endeavours) explains:
I didn’t want to associate an image with music. This music is fucking quality. There’s too many motherfuckers about image. I’m not trying to throw shade but A$AP Rocky has the best image ever but the music is sub par. I don’t get the coexistence. My whole thing is music is what we’re in this for and that’s all that matters.
Stream The God Complex below but be sure to download a copy as the SoundCloud stream is minus the fancifully, frenetic lead single Pleasure Paradise.
The official website link for downloading The God Complex appears to have expired, which isn’t surprising considering it was released over six months ago and has since been released on iTunes. Luckily it’s still available to download on a few diligent sites.