September 14, 2017
It was hot. No matter how many times you try to change the phrase, the intent is still the same. Not sweltering, but it was dry enough inside the Studio at Warehouse Live on Thursday night that it felt like a nightclub. Swank? Not necessarily. Close to Pink Monkey in its 2006-07 heyday? Not that hot, but it felt like it. Maybe this was because GoldLink, the D.C. purveyor of future bounce, had come to town. Maybe because GoldLink owns an absolutely perfect summer song that begs heat to slowly seep into the open. Whatever the case was, Warehouse Live knew the situation and wound up opening the Ballroom up just for floaters and the occasional lush who wanted one more drink for the road.
Well, unlike one poor gentleman who had to sleep it off outside the venue, GoldLink kept all of the fun and energy inside. This, was not the same Houston crowd that caught him a few months ago, back when At What Cost was billed as a more personal and forthright proper album. They arrived in varying styles of dress: Fashion Nova suits, jerseys, T-shirts with minor slits cut in front for fashion’s sake, comfortable maxi-dresses and the occasional few who donned military jackets with lace bras, and more. The crowd had swollen to obscene levels of population, thicker than a normal show in the Studio room.
Nothing truly prepares you for a GoldLink show. You know three key components will be around and maintain themselves throughout. One, you will overhear women proclaim, “This is my song!” in reference to anywhere from four to five different songs, meaning GoldLink the artist is a better supplier of such moments than GoldLink, singles champion. Two, your eyes will catch a woman dancing, smiling, having a good ass time with her girlfriends as she wants to dance. Three, you may want to dance too, or rap along. It’s one of the Washington D.C. rapper’s strengths: a casual ability to create music that is aimed mostly at the fairer sex but doesn’t sound sleazy. It’s genuine.
“It's hot than a motherfucker up in this motherfucker,” GoldLink said, the curses slipping out like a country slither. “It feel like summer in this motherfucker.”
It directly led into “Summatime,” the At What Cost track where fellow D.C. native Wale attempts to take center stage but never truly wrestles it away from Link. Seconds before, women were singing along to “Meditation,” the Jazmine Sullivan/Kaytranada collaboration from At What Cost. It didn’t matter that Sullivan wasn’t in attendance, none of the album’s D.C. add-ons were. The growing faithful at Warehouse did their best to act as the perfect Jazmine Sullivan stand-ins. It led one woman to lean over and tell me directly, “Holy shit, I think I like GoldLink. Not just his music, but him.”
A traditional sex symbol, D’Anthony Carlos may not be. He is, however, the guy who has records like “Dance On Me” and “Dark Skin Woman,” where the syncopation and drum patterns beg you to at least use your hips when dancing. He’s also the guy who has records that take Missy Elliott’s spastic, wanton desires for sex and use them as an additional weapon for “Spectrum.” He’ll even deliver occasional freewheeling, sticky a cappella raps that elicit solid appreciative cheers and be polite in regards to remixing Usher’s “U Don’t Have to Call.”
“I loved you, bitch/ You were my giiiiirrrl,” he crooned with all sincerity. OK, fine, maybe not the most polite but neither is Too Short in using his favorite word.
The major thought I had going into the D.C. rapper’s sold out show on Thursday night was how much of the crowd was there for one song and one song only. If they had any previous knowledge of a man who built a career on mostly driven melody and a love for the opposite sex. Would they roar for “Dark Skin Woman?” Or would they merely subject themselves to stalling for time until “Crew” hit?
In fact, they moved for everything. When GoldLink instructed them to sway their arms from left to right, they complied. When it came time to finish off his 45-minute set in a flurry of punches. “Pray Everyday,” At What Cost’s proper closer bled directly into “Crew,” his signature hit. Right then and there GoldLink had his superstar moment. Running through it once wasn’t enough. Humming perfection, especially that sweet, undeniable Brent Faiyaz chorus could not have satisfied the Warehouse Live crowd.
“I wanna see y’all give me even more energy than you did the first time we performed it,” he said.
Then he performed it again. For a brief second, I thought of the proper ending to the night. Not for myself but for many a guy who had come to see GoldLink to get a show. Somebody would lock eyes, somebody would wistfully grin and then some small talk would occur. Maybe they’d go to Alley Kat at the end of the night, maybe even Mai’s. But at least something would start off.
And just like any good night at the club, the lights came on once GoldLink was finished. In and out in 45-minutes, he even let his tour DJ Masego play one of his first big tracks, “Dance On Me” as the exit music. Somebody may have gotten lucky last night.
All because GoldLink saw to make it happen.
So How Were the Openers? How does EarthGang begin a show? By saying they're over the shit of one certain squatter in the White House but definitely not over getting high.
I forgot how much fun they are live: constantly engaging, and actually funny. They're like your Georgia cousins who introduced you to smoking weed correctly and dared you to get the finest woman you knew. Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot don’t look anything like Atlanta firebrands on the surface but it took them no time to have Houston in the palm of their hands. After exchanging pleasantries with the crowd and dedicating their time to anybody who lost a house or had to endure the brunt of Hurricane Harvey, the Dreamville duo rattled off a small section of cuts from their latest EP, Rags. They closed with the energetic “Red Light,” showing that one can turn up in more ways than one.
Technical, gifted and creators of their own world, it’s a mystery as to who decided upon the foliage and container look for the tour’s set design. EarthGang are trippy and were well before J. Cole signed them to keep their Spillage Village partnership with J.I.D and expand it even further. GoldLink likes to set the mood. You’ d be hard pressed to get a firm out of either one of them, long as you were satisfied.
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Personal Bias: Knowing the chorus to “Crew” unlocks a section of the Earth you didn’t know existed.
The Crowd: Anywhere from afro-centric to club ready. They all came out to and fro.
Overheard In the Crowd: “Oh my God!” This wasn’t a screaming fan willing to throw panties at GoldLink. It was a frustrated woman who noticed that her date was considerably out of it.
We Will Never Die