Photo: Jack Risbridger
GoldLink's 14-track Diaspora project oozes with a unique mix of sounds that take on the African musical diaspora. This is the R&B artist's second studio album, which features collaborations with a wide variety of other artists - Ari PenSmith, Khalid, Pusha T, Tyler, The Creator, WizKid, and the list goes on.
The album opens with "//error," which really puts you right into a space that feels and sounds like you're running for your life. It's 23 seconds of heavy breathing that mixes with and seeps into an audible quickened heartbeat, followed by a horror-movie-esque creaking sound. It's a song that sets listeners into GoldLink's darker vision, one that occurs throughout the album. The intro allows space to step into GoldLink's world. It's an opening to a darker, more experimental album for the R&B artist, with some darker beats and twisted, and sometimes unforgiving, lyrics. On the surface, the album can seem relaxed, but if you dig deeper, there's a lot to ponder over.
"Days Like This" is one of the most stand-out tracks off of Diaspora. This glossy track has subtle jittery beats that jab at Khalid's soothing vocals. It's a banger in a lowkey way and shows how the two artists complement one another. Plus, a GoldLink and Khalid collab? It's a dream come true.
"Coke White / Moscow" is a two-part track that opens with Pusha T. The rapper shares the life of a drug dealer, when "You can be the mayor when the whole city owe ya." This gives insight into his drug-dealing past, and later, his half splits and switches to "Moscow." GoldLink takes over and raps about fame, money, and how it can change you - something many artists have tackled in their art, but we get to hear from GoldLink's personal life. The two parts, which are separated by a beat switch, provide insight into the rappers' different lives.
"U Say" is the third single that was released in preparation for Diaspora. The track featured verses from rapper Tyler, The Creator and a chorus sung by Jay Prince. This is one of the lighter, more carefree tracks off of the album. It's a smooth, jazzy track that showcases GoldLink experimenting with a more relaxed sound. Although it is more toned-down in nature, the tropical tune is definitely a number you can dance to.
Even on his own, GoldLink has a way of making his music stand-out. The album ends with track "Swoosh," which truly wraps everything together into a single conclusion. The song is a reflection of oneself and the world we live in. There aren't only audible darker themes that splash throughout the album, but underlying twisted lyrics that evoke thought, and this particular detail shines in this track. GoldLink casually raps the lines, "Nike swoosh, splash, drippin’ ‘round my town, town / And all you’ll hear is deadly screams, what a pretty sound," in the chorus. GoldLink is onto something greater than dance and chill-vibe music, and Diaspora is an example of that.
Through a blend of musical styles and samples, GoldLink effectively communicates the diaspora of African music through his own individual experimentation. The album doesn't stick to one genre, but GoldLink effectively ties the music together through lyrics and signature beats. You can listen to Diaspora in length below:
GoldLink kicked off his album release with a performance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. You can watch the energetic performance of "Zulu Screams" featuring Maleek Berry below:
You can also read more about all of the exciting things GoldLink is up to this summer and fall, including a fall tour with Tyler, The Creator, here.