At the age of 19, 24KGoldn is living the dream, a life he owes to his raw talent and the art of manifestation. 2019 was a very special year for the artist as he landed himself his first record deal with Records, LLC/Columbia marking his first official year in the game.
The Bay Area native came straight out the gate, with single “Valentino”: A track he had recorded a year or so before releasing, due to recognising it’s immense potential, knowing that he didn’t have the resources or the connections to gain the traction it truly deserved.
A wise and strategic move from the young artist; That would go on to carry this upbeat, catchy offering - that shares his desires to have Valentino instead of a Valentine - to become his first platinum record. As well as earning himself his first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100. Garnering over 200 million streams across all platforms. Followed by a debut project entitled “Dropped out of college”: an impressive body of work that depicts an accurate portrayal of his life.
Hailing from San Francisco, he aims emanate the ‘feel’ and culture of the Bay, whilst drawing inspiration from a diverse range of musical heavyweights from Michael Jackson, Akon, T-Pain to Drake and Future. 24K first began reeling in a loyal fan base in 2018, with SoundCloud hit “Balling like Shareef” - an ode to his love for game and respect for highly-revered basketball player: Shareef O’Neal. Fast forwarding to last year, he began attending classes at the University of Southern California, whilst juggling his passions for creating music. However, his time at USC was short lived due struggling with balancing his studies and his thriving music career. The rapper decided it would be best to put his student life on hold to dedicate time to his craft, a move that has served him extremely well so far.
This year, 24kGoldn has a lot more in-store, with talks of some pretty exciting collaborations. Along with the release of an album set to drop in September.
We caught up with the artist to find out more...
So, you made the hit ‘Valentino’ at age 17, but didn’t release it until much later. Was that a strategic move at all?
Yeah, I just knew with that type of song, it was so good that it’d be foolish if I didn’t give it the proper push and resources it deserved. So, I wanted to wait until I was in the situation where I had the money from the record label and connections to blow the song up, the way it should be.
You started your trajectory during High school - who was 24kGoldn listening to around that time?
In high school, I was listening to a lot of Young Thug, a lot of Future and Drake. I was pretty much only listening to Rap and Hip-Hop music.
Soundcloud, Apple Music or Spotify - Two of them must go, which one would you choose to remain?
I’d say- Nah I can’t answer that question because they might take me off the playlists. (He chuckled)
You refer to ‘Balling like Shareef’ as the song that solidified your sound, as well as your love for Auto tune - What do you say to people who criticise altering vocals?
I would just laugh at them, because they don’t know that whoever their favourite singer is, still uses at least a little bit of Auto-tune. Everyone in the industry is using it because, it’s a tool that’s there to make your music sound better to the consumer. So, I'd say just enjoy the music and don’t worry about the process.
Speaking of Shareef, are you a big supporter of Basketball?
Yeah, growing up my dad was really big on basketball so that love carried over to me.
Who were the first artists that caught on to your sound?
There wasn’t a lot of initial support but recently Lil’ Nas X reached out and he told me that he loved ‘the city of angels’ so that was really cool!
Your last project ‘Dropped Outta College’ was extremely successful and really helped us understand you as an artist. What does that project mean to you now?
I think it’s a great way to come out the gate with a project that's very telling of my whole journey – from starting school to leaving school and even a little be after. I’d only releases singles up to that point so it was very nice to be able to provide my fans with a body of work that they can dig into and use that to get to know me better.
The song ‘A lot to lose’ shows you in a more vulnerable light, the use of live guitar is striking. In the midst of an age that relies a lot of on artificial intelligence, how important is it to you to enlist the help of musicians to create instrumentals?
Almost all the Guitars that I have in my music are live and is played by someone else, it's not programmed on a computer and I love doing that just because when you work with another person, that's especially talented at something it allows you to put two brains together to focus on something that’s bigger than both of you – which is the music, so it just gives such an authentic, raw and natural feel that only a Guitar expert can bring to the music.
You are no stranger to merging genres throughout your music, we hear influences of Rock, Pop and of course Rap - but how would you describe your sound and do you think it can be defined by one genre?
Nah, it really can't be defined by one genre. I would describe it as eclectic, because it's kind of all over the place but it's still cohesive at the same time. I think my voice is the thing that brings it all together.
In an interview with No Jumper last year, you discussed the challenges of getting a feature, is that a difficulty you still face as a more established artist?
I would say less so now because bigger artists see me coming up on the rise and it makes sense for them to want to work with rising artists. Also, now I'm genuine friends with other artists, it's a lot more fun to make music with your friends.
Since signing has your perspective of the music industry changed?
I think going into signing my first deal, I had a pretty realistic expectation. I feel like anyone's first record deal is going to have an exploitive nature to it, because you have much less to offer than the record label does. Then if you do well that flips into your favour but your deal might not reflect that so going in, I knew – I'm probably going to be big; my deal right now probably won't be reflective of what I’ll deserve in a year or two. But it’s worth it because I’m going to have a long career, so in the first couple of years I'm probably going to have to give more to a label than they should probably get, as long as I have the initial money and resources under me, it's fine because I'll be out of my deal by the time I'm 21.
What is your creative process like in terms of beat selection and writing? What was it like prior to signing?
So, before I signed, I’d just write to YouTube beats. I wouldn't really have much say in the creative process of how the production was done, I would have to look for hours and hours on YouTube and then chose the beat that I liked. Verses now I can be a lot more involved in the creative process of it all I like to make beats from fresh in the studio with producers, rather than just listening to what they have. Because I want to bring people into my own world and a big part of creating that world: is in the production, creating those soundscapes, creating that environment for people to feel like they’re in. If producers are already laying it out; it’s less of my world and more of their world.
With the production process being so important to your craft; Have you ever tried or thought about taking up producing yourself?
Yeah, I would say like I know how to produce in a sense of verbally communicating. Yeah, I want this and nah don’t do that. But in the sense of actually making the beat, it's just hard to find the time to lock in, but now with this Coronavirus thing. I might be a certified producer by the end of it.
There are a lot of talks about the benefits of signing a record deal and whether it’s better to remain independent; Do you think you would have been able to achieve your level of success without signing? What words of wisdom would you like to leave for upcoming artists reading?
That's a hard question, I knew that I was going to be successful in this. It was just the matter of when, it may have been six years later if I didn’t sign now, I definitely don’t regret anything it’s just important for all the artists that are considering signing or going independent you have to be so aware and have a realist expectation. A lot of people think their music is more fire than it is and if you sign before your music is really at that level where you really have a hit you can promote and push with a label: Your probably just going to get shelved. So, stay independent until you need a record label.
How does it feel to beat the stigma surrounding “Soundcloud rappers”?
I mean, it’s a great thing. I’ve always loved SoundCloud as a platform it was the first place, that gave me the ability to put my music out to the world. So, I still love SoundCloud and I’m glad it as a part of my journey.
How does your sound influence your style?
Oh man, I love clothes so much. So just like my sound being eclectic, so is my style. I can pull off a Polo shirt some black jeans and some sneakers and keep it lowkey. But I also might come out with some crazy distressed jeans, off-white sneakers and a colourful jacket. It all depends on how I’m feeling that day, the same with my music. If you like me as an artist it's not because you like a song or two it’s because you f*ck with me and all my style: it’s individually golden.
As a self-proclaimed ‘Sneaker head’, what are your go-to sneakers for performing?
Definitely a pair of Airforce ones, when you’re performing your shoes are probably going to get messed up. It’s hard not to crease them when your jumping around and I don’t want to ruin any of my nice shoes.
Last question, what can your supporters expect from you as far as collaborations, live shows and future projects for this year?
Me and Kaash Paige got a record coming out. Me and Quavo have a record coming out soon. I'm probably going to drop my album in September, so I’m just excited for the world to see that we didn’t stop after ‘Valentino’, we didn’t stop after ‘City of Angels’. This is not a one- or two-year thing, this is a ten year plus career. So, join the ride and let’s go to the f*cking moon!