As this being my first real listen to any Goldlink album, I’ll be the first to admit that I had no expectations going into this. The lead single “Crew” was awesome and insanely catchy, but I had some serious doubts going into this project, considering that Goldink himself had the least memorable verse on the single. While his cool, laid-back delivery didn’t ruin the song, it made me wonder how this rapper can keep my interest for an entire forty plus minute album.
At What Costs opens with an overlong intro that consists of faded dialogue and an eerie vibe that segways into “Same Clothes As Yesterday”, which serves as the album’s first real track. The song sports a great flow from Goldlink, a decent feature, and an amazing descending beat. Not surprisingly, some of the project’s best characteristics are the beats, which are incredibly consistent and match the vibe of the tracks really well. The only beat that I had a huge problem with was the one on “Meditation”. Although producer KAYTRANADA dropped one of the better records of last year, 99.9%, he delivers a half cooked beat on this song that I can swear I’ve heard before. However, Goldlink’s creative flow that I was worried about from the drop of “Crew” is surprisingly great all over the album. From the way he rides the wonky beat of “Have You Seen That Girl?” to his chilled deliver over “Some Girl” with Steve Lacy, he definitely made me eat my own words when it came to me questioning his flow. His ability to adapt on smooth, pop focused tracks like “Herside Story”, one of the best songs on the entire record, and smoked out trap beats like “Kokoma Freestyle” is seriously impressive. What isn’t impressive, however, is his lyrics. Right from the opener, I realized and accepted the fact that the lyrics were going to be consistently bad. Thankfully, the flows and beats are enough to mask up the terrible wordplay and half assed bars for the most part. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the song “The Parable of a Rich Man”, which is easily the worst song on the album. The terribly mixed autotuned vocals that sound like someone being repeatedly punched in the neck at the beginning is bad enough, but when Goldlink starts rapping with the effect on, that’s where I cross the line. The wonky beat mixed with the off the wall performance results in utter chaos and makes the idea of pouring mercury into your ears sound bearable. On top of this and the fact that the feature utilizes these vocal effects too, there is an unlistenable outro consisting of ambiance and an “eerie” choir makes a dumpster fire of an already bad track. The album thankfully picks back up with the aforementioned “Crew” and “We Will Never Die”. The ladder showcases an banger beat and an awesome chorus, highlighting confidence from Goldlink I haven’t heard yet. Where this song showcases his braggadocio style, there are tracks like “Pray Everyday (Survivor’s Guilt)” that attempts to show Goldlink’s reflective side. Throughout the song’s lowkey trap beat, Goldlink mumbles and reminisces about fame and the girls he has met in the past year, and it doesn’t work. It fails to bring a great closer to an album that so far has been good but all over the place. In brief, the new Goldlink record surprisingly brought a lot to the table in terms of variety and style, resulting in some great gems, and some terrible tracks. I can say that after this record, I’m looking forward to see what he does next.