Photo via RCA Records

Album Review | GoldLink – Diaspora

After his breakthrough hit “Crew,” GoldLink is back with a new Afro-inspired album.

In terms of chart-topping hits and popularity, GoldLink is criminally underrated as an artist. His most popular song, “Crew,” peaked at 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. That song alone should’ve made Top 10. With this new album out, Diaspora, GoldLink proves he is here to stay and make a name for himself in the hip-hop/R&B community.

Although this is technically his sophomore album, GoldLink considers At What Cost to be more of a mixtape, therefore making Diaspora his debut album. This 14-track album displays the versatility and charisma GoldLink has to offer. Hailing from the DMV, GoldLink’s distinct voice blends with a variety of melodies to exemplify the African influence in his music.

PHOTO VIA POLLY IRUNGU / NPR

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Diaspora commences with suspenseful sounds, almost like an attempt to run away from something. This 20 second audio could symbolize GoldLink trying to escape from certain things that don’t define him or things that hold him back.

Joke Ting (ft. Ari PenSmith)

This laid-back, melodic tone is a complete juxtaposition from the opening sequence. A bouncy tune, GoldLink is accompanied by Ari PenSmith’s smooth vocals. Joke Ting serves as a platform for GoldLink to flex his successes, such as his single Crew from 2017.

Maniac

This is my personal favorite from the album. Although it is not the most popular song from the album, it is most definitely a banger. The heavy bassline perfectly embodies the theme of lunacy and mania that GoldLink raps about. He also utilizes different flows and styles, all sounding great. In his last verse, GoldLink shouts out the late Mac Miller (RIP Mac).

Days Like This (ft. Khalid)

This is the second time Khalid and GoldLink collab; both songs have turned out solid. Khalid steals the show with his vocal experimentation in the chorus, mesmerizing and haunting at the same time. Khalid’s R&B-heavy sound, as well as a GoldLink inspired trap beat, collide to create this piece of art.

Zulu Screams (ft. Maleek Berry & Bibi Bourelly)

As the lead single from Diaspora, this tune embodies various African-inspired elements such as the Zulu War chants in the beginning, the dancehall style beat, and the verse by Bibi Bourelly in Lingala (a language used in Congo). This song is a must for everyone’s summer playlist. Be prepared to blast this on repeat on your summer drives.

More (ft. Lola Rae)

More is a continuation of the upbeat, feel-good music from the previous song. The Afro-beat inspired production embraces the elements GoldLink desires in his music.

Cokewhite (ft. Pusha T)

Two words: beat switch. The production on this song is fire. This whole collab is unexpected but it is not unwanted; Pusha T does a solid job with his bars while GoldLink comes in and absolutely destroys the beat. As Pusha T says in his verse, this is a perfect combination like when Pusha and Gold link.

U Say (ft. Tyler, The Creator & Jay Prince)

Although this is GoldLink’s first time collaborating with Tyler and Jay Prince, it’s almost as if they’ve worked together before. As Tyler and GoldLink trade bars over this tropical inspired beat, Jay Prince’s melodic vocals complete the song.

Yard (ft. Haile of WSTRN)

The trend of upbeat tunes continues. A heavily Caribbean-inspired dancehall beat, this song serves to emphasize no bad vibes allowed!

PHOTO VIA COMPLEX

Spanish Song

GoldLink does a great job storytelling in his two verses, capturing scenes from a club with his friends, as well as giving an update on his child’s mother. Although it is a dance beat, it is a bit calmer than the ones showcased before.

No Lie (ft. WizKid)

If the name WizKid sounds familiar, it’s because you may have heard some of his vocals in Drake’s chart-topping hit One Dance. While this song showcases WizKid’s talent, the production steals the show. Yes, there is another beat switch. For some reason, GoldLink’s flow is the perfect companion for these switched beats.

Tiff Freestyle

While a lot of this album has been electrifying dancehall beats, GoldLink will not let you forget he is a talented rapper as well. His flow, his bars, and his voice are all amazing in this freestyle. There is a bit of Kendrick flow in there too, similar to some lines from Damn’s YAH.

Rumble (ft. Jackson Wang & Lil Nei)

I don’t even know where to start. This is the second to last song on the album, but it goes so hard! With bars like I got blood on my sneakers from runnin’ the game too long, GoldLink is not afraid to boast about his ability. The production is insane and the features add their own dynamic to this song. Lil Nei’s flow in the chorus is an interesting element, as well as Jackson Wang’s Chinese bars.

Swoosh

Swoosh, the perfect way to end the album. In his lyrics, GoldLink showcases his ambition and desire to prove people wrong. Nike’s iconic swoosh inspires GoldLink to achieve this level of recognition. You can’t succeed if you don’t want it, and GoldLink wants to be the best in the game for himself and his family.

Final Take | Review 8/10

For a “debut album,” GoldLink has done a phenomenal job. Diaspora has a great theme, encompasses GoldLink’s broad range of talents, and has a high replay factor. Standout tracks for me were Maniac, Cokewhite, U Say, and No Lie.

Pros

Perfect summer vibes for an album that dropped in June

GoldLink’s unique voice will make these songs stand out

Production is A1

Oscar Moguel

Oscar is a current undergraduate student at The Wharton School studying marketing.

June 28, 2019

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