GoldLink Brings His Future Bounce to Brooklyn: Live Review

Sean Berrigan

The rapper GoldLink has a term for his music: future bounce. "Future bounce is still yet undefined," the rapper told Complex last year. "But I like to… imagine Montell Jordan's 'This Is How We Do It' on crack."

That's an arresting quote. It's also smart advertising, a way of controlling the narrative by picking a sonic brand in advance. But if "Montell Jordan on crack" doesn't do it for you, start with the idea of bounce.

GoldLink draws from rap, soul -- a number of his tracks are produced by artists on the Soulection label -- and most importantly, various strains of club music. Last year, every rapper was scrambling to get on a DJ Mustard beat, which typically combines a thin string of synth tones with busy percussion that encourages movement. Even rappers who are less inclined to float -- take Lil Jon or Waka Flocka Flame -- took refuge in the world of electronic dance as a means of staying relevant.

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Presciently, GoldLink arrived favoring an uptempo sound, and he has honed this approach since the release of last year's God Complex mixtape with a series of sexual, groovy club tracks. He collaborated with Zhu -- the young producer behind pulsing, hypnotic numbers like "Faded" -- on "Paradise Awaits Part 2," a slinky, needling track with a "Thong Song" interpolation thrown in for good measure. "Future Part 1," a one-off with Bipolar Sunshine, is even more thrilling: blurping hip-house at a time when house-rap combinations from Chris Brown, Jeremih, and Nicki Minaj are consistently rising high on the charts.

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The world has taken notice. Earlier this year, GoldLink hit the studio with the legendary Rick Rubin. And last week, he was named a member of XXL's 2015 Freshman Class, along with several artists including Dej Loaf, Fetty Wap, and OG Maco (all who have radio hits).

During his show at Rough Trade in Brooklyn last night, the rapper was quick to remind the crowd to bounce. On several occasions, he ordered the audience "to bounce like we don't give a f---." To GoldLink's credit, he didn't just give commands; he set the tone with an eruption of movement that approximated a petulant child throwing a temper tantrum on steroids, a ball of limbs expanding and contracting with kinetic, uncontainable zeal.

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But the best bouncing is self-motivated. This occurred when the MC reached into the back catalog for "One Step Back," a fleet combination of come-ons and vocal samples. A similar response greeted "Dance On Me," a driving and lascivious track less than 48 hours old with a savvy loop that sounds like Jai Paul's "BTSTU."

At times, GoldLink ignored his own prescription, like when the DJ cued up TLC's "Creep" or a Craig Mack remix. Reaching for throwbacks seemed like a cheap trick from an artist offering what's next. And playing these tracks wasn't just a nostalgic move, it was also a departure from the bounce: '90s R&B and hip-hop often leaned more towards the bob.

Importantly, homages of this sort don't have to exist in an explicitly backward-looking space. Towards the end of the show, GoldLink played "Sober Thoughts," a Kaytranada production with a staggered, clean, forceful beat. The song masterfully updates '90s boom-bap, while also offering a compelling path to the dance floors of the future.

GoldLink - Live At Rough Trade Album Review