It was a night to remember for Goldlink, who celebrated two sold-out shows from his ‘At What Cost Tour’ at Electric Brixton in London, alongside some of the UK’s current finest in hip-hop. As an artist Goldlink has carved his own lane into the hip-hop spectrum, shunning the trap trend of the US scene to create music that aligns far more with soul and dance. And on this night he welcomed an eclectic bill of artists that fitted perfectly with the music of his own.
To kick off proceedings was one of the UK’s hottest up and coming R&B stars in Mahalia whose laidback, soulful showcase had the crowd moving from start to finish. Ending the set with her track ‘Sober’, that many of the crowd were already singing back to her word for word, it was clear that it wouldn’t be too long until she was selling out a venue of this size herself. With Mahalia being the only support act mentioned on the flyer, the crowd began to bubble with excitement and came to a huge eruption when the lights dipped and storming the stage was one of the UK’s most exciting new hip-hop artists Daniel OG who alongside the Neverland Clan performed his huge hit ‘411’ and a new unreleased track ‘Uber XL’, which is guaranteed to garner huge radio play upon its release. And in the same high energy way that they entered, Daniel OG and the Neverland Clan left.
Leaving us with the highly anticipated entrance of the main man himself Goldlink. The lights once again dipped and the crowd was greeted with the infamous opening visuals to Hype Williams all time, classic hip-hop movie ‘Belly’. It couldn’t have been more fitting setting the stage for an evening that showcased hip-hop and rap from today’s scene that was reminiscent of that 90’s era. It was time for the main event and to huge applause Goldlink took to the stage, standing calm and collected he got the crowd bouncing with his opening track ‘Fall In Love’.
The crowd went wild. Goldlink stood tall, soaking in the applause as the bassline for ‘Dark Skinned Women’ kicked in. You could hear the crowd rapping every word back to him and what stood out was his ability to transition from rapping to singing with such ease, especially at a time when rappers are rightly being scrutinised for their reliance on backing tracks when performing live on stage. Goldlink flowed smoothly into the song ‘Some Girl’ before the opening chords to the incredible ‘Rough Soul’, that features April George brought about the biggest cheer of the night. Garnering over 6 million views from the now popular ‘Colours’ YouTube channel, it’s an incredible track that blends hip-hop, soul and dance and showcases both Goldlink’s rapping ability as well as his vocal prowess, in a way that only Goldlink can produce.
“Man y’all some dancers today” he shouted, as the crowd died down before we were blessed with our second surprise performance of the night. “Can I bring a very special guest out for you?”, he said which turned out to be none other than music’s comeback king Craig David. The crowd erupted, the whole place lit up and we were welcomed with the first live performance of their new collaboration ‘Live In The Moment’. It’s Goldlink’s diversity in his sound that made this collaboration completely unexpected, yet seemingly right in the current trend of US to UK crossovers. Both are artists who can work well within the medium of dance and soul and also showcased Goldlink’s bubbling commercial appeal within mainstream music. The two embraced and of course Craig couldn’t leave without a quick rendition of ‘Fill Me In’.
Once again, it wasn’t at all what I expected from a Goldlink show but with the music that had already been on offer, it fitted perfectly. “2018 ain’t ready for you (Goldlink)”, Craig shouted as he exited the stage. A huge co-sign that both pleases and teases fans for what is to come in the not too distant future.
But the surprises weren’t over. After turning the floor to a moshpit with the track ‘Same Clothes As Yesterday’, Goldlink made way for who he called “one of the most talented artists ever” and the person who’s flying the flag high for the UK hip-hop scene, Little Simz. Performing her track ‘Backseat’ it was a huge London homecoming for an artist who continues to evolve, excite and lead the UK music scene with her individual style. In some interviews Goldlink has been asked about his perceptions of Grime and in what can seem like blaspheme to many he expressed how it “didn’t appeal to him” and rightly so. It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate the music but “it’s like playing Young Thug to your grandma”. In a genre of music as diverse as hip-hop and where it is often cool to backpack off the style that is the flavour of the month, Goldlink’s stayed true to his own sound which couldn’t be further away from grime.
It could have been easy for him as an American artist to bring out someone from the UK grime scene to play their hit in order to score bonus points with a London crowd but through showcasing artists such as Daniel OG, Craig David and Little Simz, he showed a far deeper appreciation of the UK music scene and deserves huge props for that.
But now it was time for the home-run as he got the venue shaking pulling out two of his biggest tracks ‘Herside Story’ and ‘Late Night’. His track ‘Pray Everyday (Survivor’s Guilt)’, (a personal favourite of mine from his ‘At What Cost’ album), who’s backing choir vocals had the whole place rejoicing, flowed seamlessly to the up-tempo banger ‘Dance On Me’.
At which point it was time for the the curtain closer, his Grammy nominated hit ‘Crew’ which saw Daniel OG, Neverland Clan and a whole host of others storm the stage on hype man duties, with Goldlink splitting the crowd in two and tearing the venue’s roof off.
And with a heartfelt thank you, he left the stage. The lights faded up and the crowd was so hyped that the mosh pits continued even after they had fully come on.
When it comes to artists like Goldlink and those who also graced the stage that evening, it further showcased the appeal in the diverse sub-genre’s that are resonant within today’s hip-hop scene. Each artist who took their turn on the mic, had their own way of showcasing their artistry but it was clear that on this night, it was about those who highlight melody, musicianship and the ability to work with a wide range of rhythms. And most of all it was good to see London turn out to support it.