The buzz around GoldLink since he exploded onto the scene with The God Complex last year has steadily been growing over the past year. After landing on the 2015 XXL Freshman cover, the rising DMV native has become Rick Rubin’s protégé and is gearing up to release his upcoming debut album, via L.A.-based music collective Soulection. ‘Link’s consistency with music is what separates him from the batch of new faces. With each infectious cut like “Dance on Me,” “Sober Thoughts” and “Wussup,” listeners just can’t help but get up to dance. However, is this sound sustainable? Is there too much pressure? GoldLink hopped on the phone to talk to XXL about his debut LP, why his and Soulection’s music is special, Rick Rubin and why love is the greatest invention of all time.Emmanuel C.M.

How you feeling right now in general? Your album is out very soon.
Anxious I guess, ready I guess. I just want people to like it. I want…fuck it. It’s really for the girl who it was made for, if she understands what I was trying to say this entire time then I can care less what the fuck happens. That’s really what it was for, it was for her, and if she gets to hear it, then I accomplish my goal.

I read about the concept, how it’s a breakup album about a relationship you had when you were 16. Describe how you were before and after the relationship.
Before the relationship, I was really shy. I was cool but I was real shy and quiet. I didn’t say much. I was a nice guy. Then after I was real loud, angry, confident, it was just negative. I was kind of a delinquent. But I been that but it was more like I really embodied that after the relationship. So I just changed completely. But also in the contrary, I changed into a better man after going through the changes and going through the emotions and shit. I went through a lot of changes after the relationship.

So if I was a random guy in the record store, how would you sell to me that your LP is a must buy? What makes And After That, We Didn't Talk different?
Because we all have moment of clarity. Everybody has had a moment of clarity. Everybody has been through a relationship, whether it's with your dog, or with God or with yourself or with a man or a woman. Everybody had that relationship, everybody has had that experience, and everybody had those ups and downs. It’s very relatable, that’s the best reason I can tell you

You said in a recent interview that on your new album you’re GoldLink 2.0, what does that mean?
I mean it just means the first version of me was getting in and being really loud. I’m still that same person but the second version is a little more calmed down, more mature and more vulnerable; mainly more venerable this time around than I was before.

Why is that?
Just becoming older and thinking. Now I’m no longer where I was before. Now I’m no longer in the streets. Now when you have time and traveling on the road with people going backwards, sometimes, you have to take time and reflect. Me overcoming my story could help somebody else overcome theirs. I think it's about that time I positioned myself to tell my story now.

You’re releasing the album via Soulection, what makes it so special about y’all movement?
I feel like it doesn’t sound like anything else that’s coming out right now. We’re making the sound of tomorrow. We’re on to something very special, we're bridging two very strong cultures and making it into one thing. It’s a completely new genre that’s completely on its own. I feel like that’s a very special thing and so different from anything we ever seen in the last five to 10 years.

I noticed you still don’t like being in videos and hide your face.
Sometimes, I’m still a little indifferent about being in videos and things of that nature. But I mean, just to kind of continue the saga, I decide to not be in the “Dance On Me” video. The next video we got I’ll take a different approach.

What approach is that?
A different one, I have no idea. [Laughs]

How do you effectively grow as an artist when you become the must-see new talent? Do you feel the pressure?
I don’t know, I feel it. But it doesn’t bother me. It’s like just do exactly what got you there and keep doing that and you grow with what got you there. Stick to what you do. Rick Rubin and I is a big deal because rick and me, he’s the one that’s like telling me focus on making the greatest art and focus on that, everything else is going to fall into place. So I don’t really put myself in the position to feel stress.

How do you balance your creativity with Rick Rubin’s guidance and advices?
You still stick to what feels good to you, that’s what got me here. What got me here is what Rick likes. It’s more like, I always been like this, when I was growing up, if somebody said something to me. I don’t ever take 100 percent of what anyone says. I always take what I want and what I need from a conversation and apply it to my life my own way. I just take things that he says…I take everything in, but I take the things that really affect what I’m doing in a creative way. I pick and choose what I want to hear or what I want to follow. Because certain things I actually need advice and certain things I’m very confident about. So the things I’m confident about I’m very confident about it. The things I’m unsure about I definitely take opinions and then move in my own way. That’s where I find the balance.

What are the similarities between you two.
We both listen to understand and we both don’t listen to reply. I think that’s one of the main reasons we get along.

What are the differences?
I don’t know, we’re very similar. There’s not a lot of difference. We get along pretty well. He’s White and I’m Black. [Laughs]

What is GoldLink‘s love life like? How much does it factor into your process of making music?
My love life is a huge part of my creative process. Women are the inspiration of why us niggas are here today. [Laughs] That’s not what I’m all about. I’ve started to realize that the older you get, a lot of fuckin’ things are not as important. Love is the greatest invention honestly. Men and women are on earth to fall in love and experience that together in order to have an amazing adventure together and die. That’s what I believe. So that’s where my main source does come from; my relationships with women. Because that’s what shapes me into the man I am. Like I may become an angry person because I’m still angry off of not speaking up because I never talked to that girl and I could’ve solved that problem. Now I’m angry. And that makes me have angry times, angry moments, which makes angry music.

Did you play the album for your mother? I read she played an important role in the "Dance on Me" video.
Jackie hasn’t heard the album, but she has helped me with the album. She wants to wait anyway. She wants to wait until everyone does.

How did she help you?
I told her I need her voice and she was more than down. I like raw shit because I feel like reality is very raw and everybody tries to hide it from you for whatever reason. It’s like it doesn’t exist, it’s like sweeping reality under the rug instead of cleaning it up. But for my mom, I just did that for her. Just so she can have something to show to her friends.