It’s Wednesday and having just risen from bed, a lethargic 24kGoldn seems stuck in a dreamy haze. But at the same time he emanates a positive energy that’s completely contagious – even through the screen and from a few thousand miles away. As he fumbles with an old school webcam we begin to chat over Zoom.
We’d be shocked if the name 24kGoldn hadn’t popped up on your playlist lately. Golden Landis Von Jones, popularly known as 24kGoldn, has been dominating the rap scene since his chart-topping track featuring Iann Dior, ‘Mood’, catapulted him to stardom last summer. At only 21-years-old, he is an effortlessly smooth storyteller and a master of visual aesthetics with a string of stellar songs like ‘Company’ ft Future, ‘Empty’ ft Swae Lee, and ‘More Than Friends’ firmly fixed in his roster.
Oozing authenticity and utterly relatable, he is fast becoming one of the most multifaceted and visionary creators in the world of hip hop with a vividly sonic sound and a voice like honey. His unparalleled ear for experimentation and his eye for style set him aside from other up-and-coming rappers right now and there’s no doubt in our minds that his creativity extends well beyond his lyrical prowess.
From working with Future and DaBaby to pitching TV shows, we hit up 24kGoldn to talk about his creative process, Kanye West, his latest single and his upcoming album. Scroll to find out more, including his favourite tracks right now.
Hey 24kGoldn! As a guy who was born in San Francisco before moving to LA, I have to get your take on why you think SF specifically breeds so much incredible music? Whether it’s Paper Boy, Lil Pete, or Tupac (even though he wasn’t born there).
San Francisco is a melting pot of cultures and when you have all these different flavours together they can really bring the best out in each other. Plus, the Bay Area especially has always been a place that has celebrated artists: like The Summer of Love and the Haight Ashbury Hippie Movement.
What genres of hip hop and music in general have you drawn inspiration from as you were discovering your own sound?
When I was 15 and I first started rapping, I was looking at Camp Lo and Lucien beats and there was no melody at all. But as I grew up, moved to LA, went to college and met different types of people that maybe didn’t listen to rap at all but listened to rock, pop or RnB, those sounds started to influence my own music. I was able to find a combination of them that was uniquely me.
What is your general approach to beat-selection and writing?
What happens all the time is a producer comes into the studio and he’s like, “All right, what type of beats do you want?” And I just sit there looking at him blankly for ten minutes, because the truth is I don’t know what beats I want. I want you to know what beats I’m going to sound best on because I like so many different vibes and it’s hard for me to hone in on which one I want to go with.
As for the writing, I always start with melody. Melody matters. What you say matters too, but if it’s not catchy or if it doesn’t make you want to sing or rap along, then it doesn’t really matter what the lyrics are because no one’s going to be listening.
Do you think you have fully found your sound or is it a constantly changing process of self-discovery and experimentation?
Hell no, especially as an artist – as just a 21-year-old human being – I think expecting somebody to have found themselves or their sound is a big ask. I definitely know what I like and I know what I don’t like, but I’m just working through music and working through life, trying to add to that list. So it’s a process.
Would you ever stop making music?
When I started I didn’t think that this was going to be my career, I just did it because I genuinely love this shit. I don’t love a lot outside of my family, food and clothes, so love is really big to me. Even when I’m starring in movies and producing TV shows and have a fashion line and like some sick restaurant in Vegas or whatever, even then, I don’t know if I’d be able to stop making music because it’s like therapy.
Do you have any of that in the works already?
Yeah. So I’m pitching two TV shows right now and I’ve just finished my first week of acting classes. I’m working on fashion, but that’s the hardest one because I’m so, for lack of better words, judgmental about other fashion lines. I’m always like, yo, that shit is wack, so I can’t put out some wack shit.
Who do you consider to be your biggest inspiration musically and what about their music resonates with you?
Musically, it’s how much he fucking cares. Because at the end of the day, that boy would be in there breaking down the samples. He’s kinda like Rick Rubin but times 50 in terms of how he’s just trying to create the best songs and the best projects. He just gives a fuck and I think you can really tell that in his music.
As a person it’s the grit and the perseverance. How after getting shot down a hundred times, he’s ready to come back 101 times. That I can relate to a lot.
What’s your favourite Kanye album?
I’d have to say ‘808s & Heartbreak’. That album came out when I was eight or nine or something, my dad would pick me up from school and have this little pre-iPod MP3 player and always play that album. I knew all the words by the time I was old enough to be a fan of Kanye as a person.
You have a very distinctly cool style and I read that you’re trying to bring flare pants back and all that. So how would you describe your personal style?
Elevated, groovy, rockstar, streetwear, fuck it.
Do you have a style icon?
Kanye, Lenny Kravitz and A$AP Rocky.
Do you view your tracks as a conversation with your audience or is it more personal? Have you always been comfortable putting a lot of yourself and life experiences in your music – especially your romantic ones – or is that a process you’ve had to learn?
When I first started music, it was more about communicating with my audience, but in a less refined way. Then in the next phase I was telling personal stories and experiences; it became more self focused. But now that I’ve done both, I want to balance it out and make my audience feel seen and heard – but in a better way this time.
What is it that you want to say?
A lot of things. For example, this shit doesn’t happen overnight. Whatever your dreams are, it’s going to be hard and it’s going to suck sometimes. There’s pain that comes with growth. But it’s important to find friends that support you and to find what you love in the first place. So I’ve got a lot to say, that’s why I’m excited to drop my next album.
How has the process been working on the new album? Is it any different from El Dorado and your EP?
I’ve been working with a lot of different producers trying to identify new sonics and sounds that can change it up from what I’ve done before because I don’t ever want to do the same thing twice. I really want to take this next album and mind fuck people so they’re like, “Wait, that’s the same 24kGolden that made ‘Mood’?” It’s not going to sound like ‘El Dorado’.
How hands-on are you when it comes to creating the visual aesthetic for your music? Do you see music videos and album art as a continuation of the music and something that is crucial to be involved with as an artist?
A thousand percent. I’m probably annoying to my labels because of how nit-picky I am. I take pieces of paper and I draw out a rough sketch of what I want and then find somebody to help me translate my vision.
I have this new song coming out in the next couple of weeks called, ‘In My Head’, and this is going to be my first time co-directing a video. I had a pre-production meeting yesterday and I’m picking out props, I’m building the shot list with the director and I honestly love it.
We have to talk about some of the incredible collaborative work and features you have done recently with people like Future, DaBaby, Iann Dior, Lil Tecca, Internet Money, Static and Ben El. How is it working with such big industry names?
You should have seen my face when the Future verse came in, oh my God, I was tripping! To work with the artists that I’ve been listening to for 10 years plus, that’s surreal.
And as far as like my peers like Iann and Tecca go, I always fuck with good people my age that make dope music. It’s cool to be on the come up together. Especially with me and Iann, our careers wouldn’t be where they are without each other.
Who have you not worked with yet that would be your dream collab or feature?
Probably Drake or Kanye. Now that they’ve squashed the beef I don’t have to pick between them.
You’ve just dropped ‘Dawn to Dusk’ with LAY, how was it working together on that track? What was your inspiration for that song?
It’s wild. That song started as an idea in 2019, but it was never the right time to put it out. I was inspired by the feeling that sometimes we’re just going through the motions and it’s hard to stop and smell the flowers on the side of the road, on the journey of life that we’re all going through. That’s what I was dealing with when I wrote that song and I just let the emotion spill out. So when LAY’s people reached out and said, “Yo, he’s a fan of your music, would you guys be down to collab?” I said yeah. And then I found that song again in a folder inside of a folder inside of a folder, and I sent it over. They were like, “Oh my God, he loves this. Drop this right now.”
What have you been vibing to over the start of 2022?
I really like Fireboy DML ‘Peru’. I’ve been listening to old ‘Goblin’-era Tyler the Creator. The new Gunna ‘DS4EVER’ album. All the new Kanye shit, ‘Donda 1’, ‘Donda 2’, all the Dondas. The new ‘Love & War’ Kodak Black song.
On that note though, can you recommend any other artists/creatives to look out for?
If you’re looking for hyper pop, my boy, ericdoa. Austin George for some singing pop, rap and of course Rihanna.
So you have a tour coming up, but I don’t think I’ve seen any release dates yet.
Yeah I need to announce it soon. I just figured out what I wanted to call it: The Better Late Than Never Tour. I think that’s coming in March, stateside. It’ll be intimate. This is a tour for the real fans and the real fans only — everybody else could stay home.
During Covid, touring was off the table, so you’ve only had a few opportunities to really get up on stage. But in the past year you’ve done a lot of TV sets like Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Kimmel, MTV Music Awards and Miley Cyrus’ NYE party. What’s it been like to finally doing some live performances?
It’s been so much fun. I knew that I was gonna fuck with it, but I didn’t know that I was gonna fuck with it this much. It means so much being able to bond and connect with other people over this music.
Do you get nervous?
Surprisingly not. I’ll be more nervous going to a party with people that I don’t know than I do going on stage with 50,000 people in the crowd. It’s something about being in your element too.
Amazing, I’m excited to see all of this come together. So bringing this full circle, what’s next for you? Obviously you have the album and tour, but what else can we expect? What are some things you’re hoping to accomplish in 2022?
In 2022, I want to just get a year closer to understanding myself, and understanding my art. I want to put out an incredible album. I want to impact people so that they are going to be like, “Oh my God, that album changed my life.” I want to do shows. I want to reach out and just connect with people in person again. And I want to travel; I want to see the world.
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