Before even showing his face on stage, D.C. rapper D’Anthony Carlos (more commonly known by stage name, GoldLink) captivated the audience. Hidden from view on the sidelines, his voice bounced around the expanse of St. Andrew’s Hall as he shouted expletives that mingled with colorful strobe lights. By the time he graced the audience with his presence, casually strolling out with a grin and a puffy jacket, the crowd was in an uproar. Armed with only a microphone in one hand, GoldLink struck an unassuming figure against the clamoring backdrop of red, blue and yellow.
Five minutes later, jacket lying forgotten in the back corner, crowd dissolving into a pit of thrashing arms and bouncing feet, “unassuming” (and all other associated synonyms) was nowhere to be found.
Ricocheting from one beat to the next, never faltering in speed or energy, GoldLink proved his solo presence as a force to be reckoned with. The layering of smooth rap over a playful menagerie of melodies turned the small corner of Detroit into lit fireworks.
With songs that pull inspiration from a wide range of sources — everything from house to soul — GoldLink was unapologetically uncontained as he constructed his rolling patchwork of sound.
Unapologetically uncontained seemed to be the theme of the show, as even the opener, Masego, blended styles of music in a similar fashion. Bursting on to the stage in crooked sunglasses and a miniature saxophone necklace matching the actual saxophone in his right hand, Masego’s lighthearted demeanor welcomed all. Easygoing and laidback, he danced from one song to the next, each its own intricate tie-dye swirl of hip-hop, jazz and electronica. Aside from occasionally pausing to gift a delighted audience with suave saxophone solos, Masego was constantly in motion, a blur of gangly legs and shuffling shoulders. GoldLink couldn’t have asked for a better introduction.
From the bouncing funk of “Herside Story” to the bright fizz of “Summatime” to the thumping staccato of “We Will Never Die,” GoldLink remained nonfrivolous; his show was refreshingly uncomplicated, remaining free of unnecessary frills. The dragging tempo of “The Parable of the Rich Man” contrasted the driving beat of “Kokamoe Freestyle,” but GoldLink performed both songs similarly: leaning over the edge of the stage, one foot perched on a speaker and completely nonchalant underneath the concentrated spotlight.
As he cycled through the majority of At What Cost, jumping from “Meditation” to “Roll Call” to “Crew,” GoldLink could get up close and personal. Unhindered by loud displays or a cluttered space, all eyes were on GoldLink. Rather than making the show monotone, the uniformity allowed his emotions to be on clear display. Personability infused every melody.
There is a complexity found in everything GoldLink has produced: from the many appearances of other up-and-coming D.C. rappers in At What Cost, to the wide-ranged sampling of D.C.’s regional style of go-go in The God Complex. This intricacy, however, is not what causes the songs to be memorable. Rather, it is GoldLink’s passion that drives his music; it’s a sentiment that effortlessly translates to his live shows.
The connection GoldLink has to his hometown, his music and his fans was undeniable during his performance. Underneath elaborate twists of hard rhymes and a vigorous BPM, there was authenticity: a honest dedication that has established GoldLink as a multifaceted powerhouse, despite his relatively simple presentation.