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Leave Your Worries: GoldLink’s And After That, We Didn’t Talk

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Rap music can be exhausting sometimes.

Ambition is an MC’s greatest asset, but when every artist is trying to put out The Next Great Rap Album, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I’ve heard about ten hour-plus long projects angling for such a title this year alone. And with huge records from Freddie Gibbs, Isaiah Rashad, Jeezy, and potentially more material from Future and Drake still on the immediate horizon, there are still plenty more hip-hop epics in store.

GoldLink’s And After That, We Didn’t Talk isn’t trying to be your favorite rap album. It’s brief — 11 tracks long clocking in at just over half an hour. And it’s simple too, sticking to the tried and true basics of good beats and good bars — the D.C. rapper/singer doesn’t make any attempt to be a conceptual visionary or a progressive songwriter.

There are a few hollow party tracks here, but most cuts resonate lightly and soulfully. The unexpectedly powerful “Zipporah” finds GoldLink reflecting on race while “After You Left” sees him sorting through the remnants of a shattered relationship in a mature and thoughtful way.

The instrumentals across And After That, We Didn’t Talk are uniformly excellent. All are bright, uptempo, danceable beats that perfectly further drive the album’s breezy, fun aesthetic. The huge backing vocals and skipping, Flume-esque keyboard and sub-bass patterns on “Dark Skin Women” are sublime.

Meanwhile, on the record’s best cut, “Unique,” GoldLink and Anderson Paak trade off catchy melodies over huge synth stabs and a blissful slap-bass lick. It might just be the best feel-good hip-hop track of the year — listening to it is like mainlining euphoria.

There’s something to be said for the brilliance that comes out of not really trying to be brilliant.