Born in San Francisco, the rapper born Golden Landis Von Jones said he always liked entertaining people, and had an early introduction to the entertainment industry working as a child model in commercials for Honda, Lunchables and Blue Diamond Almonds. “That's what made me more comfortable on-camera and getting used to having to do s--t over and over,” he says. “When I pull up to music videos, I'm like, ‘I've been doing 11-hour days since I was eight-years-old, so I'm not tripping.’”
Meanwhile, 24kGoldn’s parents were instrumental in developing his love for music. With a palette that expanded beyond hip-hop (he cites Miles Davis and Michael Jackson as some of his influences), he recalls filling his middle school playlists with everything from Bruno Mars to Chief Keef — “and my playlist looks like that today, too," he says.
His drive to entertain pushed him to boldly and blindly pitch himself online. After reading a May 2018 story about how SoundCloud rappers are unfairly dismissed by the critics, he reached out to a DJ Booth writer on Twitter offering to send his own music for consideration. The writer, Hershal Pandya, soon after praised the tracks, one of which was “Ballin’ Like Shareff,” and wrote an article on 24kGoldn. It caught the eye of hip-hop Chicago producer D.A. Doman, who reached out to the rapper asking to hear more.
24kGoldn sent him “Valentino,” which Doman immediately played for veteran music executive and RECORDS CEO Barry Weiss, who became eager to sign the young rapper. "Barry called me on a Saturday and was trying to have me signed by Sunday," 24kGoldn remembers. "I took my time and I said, 'I want to meet the team. Fly me out to New York to meet the people that's going to be working for me, to get a real feel for it.’"
By the end of the year, 24kGolden had signed a recording contract with RECORDS/Columbia Records and released “Valentino” — a trap-laden track that highlighted the rapper's taste in designer clothes and playful demeanor — as his major-label debut. He followed it up with "City of Angels,'' a 180 from its predecessor that flirted with rock production. "Creatively, he does so many different things that you don't have to push him to [try different types of music],” says co-manager Chioke "Stretch" McCoy. “It comes down to, ‘Do you listen to these other genres? Do you appreciate this music?’ And he does." Adds Weiss: “He’s a great writer, plus a great personality: Post Malone meets Will Smith. He can do it all.”
24kGoldn's versatility is most evident on "Mood," a track that came together unintentionally while he was playing Call of Duty at Iann Dior's house with producers Omer and KBeaZy. Though the rappers weren't looking to collaborate, the two producers were more interested in making a beat than playing video games. 24kGoldn couldn't help but rhyme along, coming up with what became the chorus of "Mood." Amazed by the hook's catchiness, Omer paused their video game session to work on the song while Dior scurried to the studio, wrote his verse, and had 24kGoldn follow suit. They completed the track that day.