GoldLink Talks Vision Behind 'Diaspora,' Tour With Tyler, The Creator, Musical Roots & More


Photo: Joyce Ng


GoldLink Talks Vision Behind 'Diaspora,' Tour With Tyler, The Creator, Musical Roots & More

"I wanted to just make a really great American rap album, because I feel that like is very scarce in the marketplace," the GRAMMY-nominated rapper told us

GRAMMYs/Aug 28, 2019 - 10:15 pm

GRAMMY-nominated rapper GoldLink, born D'Anthony Carlos in Washington D.C., is a force to be reckoned with. He released his first two mixtapes, God Complex and After That, We Didn't Talk, in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Both were critically acclaimed, and earned him a spot in XXL's 2015 Freshman Class, firmly cementing his steadily rising role in hip-hop. His strong sense of self and artistic vision shine through in his smooth flow and next-level lyricism.

In 2017 he released his first studio album, At What Cost. At the 60th GRAMMY Awards he earned his first nomination for Best Rap/Sung Performance for "Crew," one of the big tracks from the album. At the 61st GRAMMY Awards earlier this year, he received his second nomination, in the same category, for his feature on Christina Aguilera's "Like I Do."

This year, on June 12, GoldLink followed up with the powerful Diaspora. The Recording Academy recently spoke with the rapper over the phone about the vision behind the new album, collaborating with Tyler, the Creator (who he's also touring with him soon, and will be joining his Camp Flog Gnaw fest), Khalid and others on it, quitting social media and more.

So you recently released Diaspora. How are you feeling about sharing that project so far? What are you most proud about with it?

It feels good. It feels great that it's finally out into the world. It's just been a crazy thing for me. It's been received really well from just what I've seen. I'm no longer on social media, I haven't been for almost a year or two. So I've met people, and they've just been telling how amazing it is. And the right people.

Was there a reason that you decided to go off social media and just talk to real people instead?

Yeah. I mean, why don't I just talk to real people? It's weird. It's actually weird. I think we've used it, we've abused it the wrong way at this point.

For the people that you have talked to about the project so far, were there any comments or any reactions that really stood out to you?

They've all been really great. They've all been standout. It's all been very amazing things. And close friends I would just sit and talk to about it, they could talk about it for hours, about what they think or how they feel about it and what they took from it, things like that. But yeah, everything is kind of crazy.

I'm sure there's been a lot of momentum, from being in the studio and finishing it and then waiting to share it with the world. Did it feel like a bit a relief once the album was out, or what was the moment like for you?

It was weird because I felt like I'd been just trying to fine-tune it and I lived with it for such a long time, that by the time it got out it just felt like a leap almost.

I would love to hear a bit more about the vision behind the project.

Well it's crazy, it started out as I wanted to just make a really great American rap album, because I feel that like is very scarce in the marketplace. Then I started having conversations with people and a friend of mine was explaining Afro-Nowisim. I started to travel a lot more and to adopt Afro-Nowisim, but I never forgot about the great American rap album. And as it started progressing into more of an international—well I always wanted to be an international thing—I never forgot about the first part of what I wanted to accomplish for myself. So, it started with a base and it kinda fine-tuned into something, more relatable, I guess.

There are a ton of great collabs on it, some DMV [Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia] rappers, and other artists from all over, pointing back to those two themes you mentioned. How did you chose who to work with and what was your favorite part about bringing all these different artists together?

I just chose based off of what I thought was best for the project at hand. I never really go for anything unless I believe that someone can bring a [fresh] element to a project. I always feel like the best movies never have an all-star cast of straight A-list people, those are the best movies. You know, it might have a Matthew McConaughey and a Timothée Chalamet who is 17 and make one of the best movies of all time. I think that's kind of how I choose. Also, I like bringing people out of their element and into my world to challenge them in a way I know they would succeed in, that is just not the typical route for them.

Your song "Days Like This" with Khalid stands out to me as a great example of this. He isn't the first person that I would expect on the album, but it feels so natural. Were there other songs that was a bit unexpected but it felt really natural when you got together?

Khalid is definitely the epitome of that example, I feel like Tyler [the Creator] as well. It seems obvious that Tyler would get on a bossa nova record but he's never done that ever in his career. So it's things like that where you are like, "oh wow, why?" And then you do it and it's so natural, no one even thought that's completely out of his realm [when they heard it]. It just keeps it interesting. I don't like songs that you can hear before you actually listen to it and be like, no.

Is that something that you try to do for yourself too? Were there different sounds that you tried for this album, like "I don't know if this will work but I want to try it"?

Yes. I definitely tried a few things that wouldn't be, a lot of things that I tried that were just off and never made it. But it was the things that expanded on the realm of what I was already doing [that worked]. I felt like this is natural next step, so it didn't feel too off.

Where did you start on these songs, with a sound, style or idea?

It almost built in sections. It started as one idea, that idea just turned into another idea and that built into the base of a [larger] idea. I almost had it done in my head with no music. And then it really started from an image that I saw and then I had one beat that I held onto for a long time. That's how it started. I never used the beat or the image. I just had those two in mind and tried to figure out, "How do I try to make these two things make sense?"

Are there any artists that you haven't worked with yet that you have your eye on?

Nah. Everything works out the way it's supposed to or [already] has.

Is your philosophy along the lines of not overthinking or over-planning things too much, to leave more room for the right thing, to come forward?

Yes, that's exactly what it is.

And then you're bringing Tyler on, I think, a bunch of your U.S. shows for the album?

He's actually bringing me.

What are you most looking forward to with the tour?

Getting in front of a completely new fan base is going to be really fun for me. I want to see how far this thing can stretch. I know the community of rap is a big one. I wanna see if I can keep grabbing. So I look at it as an experience and I am really appreciative.

That's awesome. And, speaking of shows, you're also doing a couple different festivals, including Meow Wolf's Taos Vortex and a couple of the Afropunks. What's your favorite part of performing at music festivals? Do you approach those shows differently?

Yeah I do, they are just different, a different thing. I'm always going in there fighting to win and I'm really going in there for everyone. And no one show is the same. So I always go into every show differently.

Different in the sense of your mindset, sort of from your perspective or more so from who you are trying to reach in the audience?

Both. But really the audience thing because every day is really not the same. You know what I'm saying? You can have a crazy Wednesday crowd but a dead Saturday crowd. Because every place, every festival, every group of people is just different. You can't even go into things the same and do things the same because there's too many anomalies and x factors that exist. I can't go into a Tyler show like my [own] show. I can't go into Afropunk like I would go into a predominantly white festival in Berlin. It's just two different stratospheres. You gotta be conscious of that and switch things around and accommodate.

What about your musical influences? Who did you grow up listening to and who inspires you still in your music?

You know I always used to force this question early in my career, thinking that there was a correct answer for it. I would rattle off their names because I thought I was so cool. Honestly, I listen to so much stuff and the thing is I never cared about music like that. I wasn't that type of guy.

From the city I come from, music is prominent but not how you would think it is. What I mean by that, my mom would listen to gospel, that was her thing. My dad listened to jazz and soul and R&B, and my brother listened to predominantly rap music from the South. It was just eclectic and I listened to whatever was on TV. I didn't care, I didn't know.

So, I was influenced by so many things. And I things that I liked I couldn't tell you why, I just did. I don't think it played into the influence of how I decided to go about things. It wasn't like "Oh man, Stevie [Wonder] at my house was crazy," it was just regular. We listened to Go-go music [a sub-genre of funk with roots in D.C.] because that's what we listened to in D.C. predominantly at the time. It was everywhere, on the radio, in schools. So, that's just what we were doing and I was really just going with whatever we were doing. So I never really had that.

At what point did you decide that you wanted to rap and pursue making music?

I'm going to say, seriously, at 23. I was doing it at 20, but I didn't really seriously consider it as a thing until the stakes started to get a little higher. When that happened, I started going back to things I like but I can't put my finger on and realizing why I liked it. The musicality of these things. "Why does this work or why does this sound better than the other songs I used to like all the time that I don't like anymore?" That's when I started appreciating music on a different level. That's why I would say musical influences came a little later on.

I would be like wow, the way that Marvin Gaye, when he made "Got To Give It Up," to me is sick because the inclusivity of how it makes you feel. It makes you feel like you're at a party, no matter what you're doing. Those are the things I started to appreciate about music later in my career, like oh wow, there's a scientific, spiritual aspect, even like a strategic aspect to what this accomplished. It's so eclectic because I love that I can pick what I love about a few people and then completely create a new identity.

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/


Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards


Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour


Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images


Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

El Mal Querer Tour, named after the Spanish pop star's latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances

GRAMMYs/Mar 20, 2019 - 12:25 am

Rosalía is set to perform at some of the most popular music festivals around the globe, including Primavera Sound in Spain, Lollapalooza (Argentina and Chile) and Coachella, but the Spanish pop star isn't stopping there when she gets to the States. Now, she has announced her first solo North American Tour with a string of dates that will bring her to select cities in the U.S. and Canada.

El Mal Querer Tour, named after her latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances. Then she'll play San Francisco on April 22, New York on April 30 and close out in Toronto on May 2.


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"I’m so happy to announce my first solo North American tour dates," the singer tweeted.

Rosalía won Best Alternative Song and Best Fusion/ Urban Interpretation at the 19th Latin GRAMMY Awards in November and has been praised for bringing flamenco to the limelight with her hip-hop and pop beats. During her acceptance speech she gave a special shout-out to female artists who came before her, including Lauryn Hill and Bjork. 

Rosalía has been getting some love herself lately, most notably from Alicia Keys, who gave the Spanish star a shout-out during an acceptance speech, and Madonna, who featured her on her Spotify International Women's Day Playlist. 

Tickets for the tour go on sale March 22. For more tour dates, visit Rosalía's website.

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Mariah Carey Tells Fans Fire Music Is Coming With New Album 'Caution'

Mariah Carey

Photo: David Crotty/Getty Images


Mariah Carey Tells Fans Fire Music Is Coming With New Album 'Caution'

The sultry R&B/pop superstar has announced she will release her 15th studio album next month – what will she bring us this time around?

GRAMMYs/Oct 17, 2018 - 05:39 am

Never one to do things quietly, the GRAMMY-winning R&B/pop diva with the angelic voice Mariah Carey came boldly onto the scene in 1990 with her GRAMMY-nominated debut self-titled album. At the 33rd GRAMMY Awards she took home her first two wins: Best New Artist and for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for "Vision Of Love," which she performed on the GRAMMY stage. The song was the album's first single and Carey's first No. 1 song. Since taking center stage at the beginning of the '90s the star hasn't looked back, releasing 13 studio albums and plenty of hits over the years. Four years after the release of her last album, she has announced that her next one is a month away. What will she serve up on her 15th LP?

The star recently shared on Twitter that her latest album is called Caution and will be released on Nov. 16, 2018. We first got a hint of a new album on Sept. 13 when she announced an album was in the works and released the lead single, "GTFO." The album's second single, "With You," followed on Oct. 4.

On "GTFO" she confidently asks a soon-to-be-ex lover "How 'bout you get the f* out?" in breathy vocals over a slow, melodic beat by GRAMMY-winning producer Nineteen85. "With You" feels like a classic Carey R&B love song with her angelic vocals backed by snapping and a melodic slow jam groove produced by hip-hop beat maker DJ Mustard, who lets her voice shine on an uncharacteristically mellow track for him. These songs hint that her latest release will give us songs that not only showcase her incredible vocal range and versatility, but also give us both nostalgia-inducing tracks as well as radio-ready hits.

"GTFO" gives us a taste of some of the new flavor that she is bringing to her new album, singing the song's coy lyrics completely in more-understated breathy vocals without belting any big high notes, not even during the chorus. It's a catchy, playful breakup song, as she confidently sings "get the f* out/how 'bout you take your tings and be on your merry way?/Fly off with the wind, bye bye baby/How 'bout you scusami, Mimi'll call you a valet."

The song was co-written and co-produced by Jeff Jefferies aka Nineteen85, who is half of OVO R&B duo dvsn and is responsible for producing some of Drake's biggest hits, including the GRAMMY-winning mega-hit "Hotline Bling." On the Drake's song "Emotionless" from his latest album, Scorpion, he samples Carey's lyrics from remixed classic hit "Emotions." Hopefully Jefferies has some catchy hits up his sleeve for Carey, and maybe even brings in some OVO artist surprises.

Carey has released some great collabs over the years, a majority with R&B and hip-hop artists, including Boyz II Men on heartfelt slow jam "One Sweet Day" from 1995's Daydream and Jay-Z on the upbeat classic belter "Heartbreaker" from 1999's Rainbow. We can only hope that the new album will offer some new, soon-to-be-classic hits with some of our other favorite artists.

Her most recent album, Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse, released in 2014, had more collab tracks than usual for her, which could perhaps point towards some hot features on Caution. The deluxe edition of the 2014 album had six songs with other artists, including rappers Nas, Fabolous, Wale and R. Kelly as well as R&B singers Miguel and Mary J. Blige. The  album's lead single, "Beautiful," has Miguel and Carey singing a soulful, feel-good duet, while "Dedicated" features a bounce-y, electronic-infused hip-hop beat with a verse from Nas. Seeing that she worked with big-time hip-hop producers on the new album's lead singles, we can only hope that they not only offered their production genus to more of the tracks, but perhaps brought some of their friends into the studio as well.

Fans only have to wait a month for the full dose of new music from Carey, but until then we will send our prayers to the music gods that the album will feature all of our dream collabs, perhaps some old and new friends, and offer up some new favorite songs, with some to slow dance to and others to belt out in the shower.

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