COVER

24kGoldn

Is Exactly Where He's Meant To Be

By Gabby Sgherri

Y

Yeah, it’s like the best drug in the world,” 24kGoldn says to me over Zoom when I ask if the feeling of performing in front of thousands of fans is unmatched to any other accolade. It’s not the first time we’ve talked but since our last conversation in March, a lot has happened for him—he released his debut album El Dorado, attended the VMAs and NYFW, held his first Goldn Giveaway Weekend, and performed at countless festivals like Governors Ball, Lollapalooza, and Summer Smash.

Goldn’s whirlwind summer is the tip of the iceberg as he’s about to head out on his first headlining tour in a couple of days, he was just nominated for two American Music Awards, and it’s his 21st birthday in a matter of weeks. He’s at a great place in his career and if the forthcoming events put any pressure on him, it doesn’t show. He has the same laid-back positive energy I remember and it particularly comes through while chatting about who he’d like to collaborate with in the future. “I’m gonna just let it come to me, stuff like that I want it to be the most organic as possible and make music with people that I genuinely fuck with and that are my friends,” he says matter of factly. His organic approach is tried-and-true leading to successful collaborations with Future, Jack Harlow, Ty Dolla $ign, Swae Lee, and Lil Tecca to name a few. It’s also one of his favorite parts about being in the music industry. “I think any time two artists can come together and make something that’s better than if they did it alone, that’s always a special moment.”

Living in the moment and genuinely vibing with another artist is how Goldn’s #1 song “Mood” was created. He was playing video games with rapper and friend Iann Dior when Omer Fedi (a producer Goldn often works with) picked up a guitar and started strumming a melody prompting Goldn to sing what would become the hook. To say the song turned out to be a hit is an understatement, it topped Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for eight weeks, was certified five-times platinum in September 2021, and has over a billion Spotify streams.

While hitting those numbers sounds good on paper (it’s definitely good for his bank account and Lanvin Curb sneaker collection), some type of gratification was missing for Goldn. “During the pandemic, it was hard for me to judge what was really happening because to me all the success just looked like numbers and more work for me to do,” he says honestly, referring to the drawback of blowing up during COVID. He was finally able to enjoy the fruits of his labor (or “drugs” of his labor) at all the aforementioned music festivals and it was what he needed. “Being able to perform at these festivals and see how the music affects people and that these are the same people that have been listening to my shit for the last year and a half made it feel all very worth it to me.”

Yeah, it’s like the best drug in the world,” 24kGoldn says to me over Zoom when I ask if the feeling of performing in front of thousands of fans is unmatched to any other accolade. It’s not the first time we’ve talked but since our last conversation in March, a lot has happened for him—he released his debut album El Dorado, attended the VMAs and NYFW, held his first Goldn Giveaway Weekend, and performed at countless festivals like Governors Ball, Lollapalooza, and Summer Smash.

Goldn’s whirlwind summer is the tip of the iceberg as he’s about to head out on his first headlining tour in a couple of days, he was just nominated for two American Music Awards, and it’s his 21st birthday in a matter of weeks. He’s at a great place in his career and if the forthcoming events put any pressure on him, it doesn’t show. He has the same laid-back positive energy I remember and it particularly comes through while chatting about who he’d like to collaborate with in the future. “I’m gonna just let it come to me, stuff like that I want it to be the most organic as possible and make music with people that I genuinely fuck with and that are my friends,” he says matter of factly. His organic approach is tried-and-true leading to successful collaborations with Future, Jack Harlow, Ty Dolla $ign, Swae Lee, and Lil Tecca to name a few. It’s also one of his favorite parts about being in the music industry. “I think any time two artists can come together and make something that’s better than if they did it alone, that’s always a special moment.”

Living in the moment and genuinely vibing with another artist is how Goldn’s #1 song “Mood” was created. He was playing video games with rapper and friend Iann Dior when Omer Fedi (a producer Goldn often works with) picked up a guitar and started strumming a melody prompting Goldn to sing what would become the hook. To say the song turned out to be a hit is an understatement, it topped Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for eight weeks, was certified five-times platinum in September 2021, and has over a billion Spotify streams.

While hitting those numbers sounds good on paper (it’s definitely good for his bank account and Lanvin Curb sneaker collection), some type of gratification was missing for Goldn. “During the pandemic, it was hard for me to judge what was really happening because to me all the success just looked like numbers and more work for me to do,” he says honestly, referring to the drawback of blowing up during COVID. He was finally able to enjoy the fruits of his labor (or “drugs” of his labor) at all the aforementioned music festivals and it was what he needed. “Being able to perform at these festivals and see how the music affects people and that these are the same people that have been listening to my shit for the last year and a half made it feel all very worth it to me.”

The energy there was so unmatched they were moshing on my slow songs.”

The energy there was so unmatched they were moshing on my slow songs.”


The first time I interviewed 24kGoldn, he told me Rolling Loud Bay Area 2019 was the best performance of his life but after his recent music festival circuit, the high from Governors Ball topped it. “The energy there was so unmatched they were moshing on my slow songs,” he animatedly recounts before remembering a specific song. “They were moshing to ‘Don’t Sleep’ which is a ballad and I’m just looking out there like yo these kids are fucking lit that’s the type of energy I need every day in my life,” he says while smiling.  

Those moments of connection and palpable energy mean more to Goldn than numbers so it didn’t come as a surprise that his attitude towards awards and nominations is rather laissez-faire. “I always feel like it’s an honor to get nominated but I don’t really put too much pressure on myself,” he says in a nonchalant tone while discussing his recent AMA nominations. “It’s a cool reminder that ‘hey you’re doing the right thing’ but win or lose doesn’t impact me as much because I’m still going to have the same people that fuck with me,” he explains before referring to his fans specifically.

Goldn’s attendance at the VMAs this year was his first award show ever, a milestone moment he describes as surprisingly normal. “I just remember being like this reminds me of a high school assembly but everybody here is famous [laughs]. Instead of getting a perfect attendance award, it’s best song of the year award-type shit.” His humorous comparison is a real and raw answer reflecting the trait that contributed to his success—authenticity. Taking things as they come, not placing too much emphasis on what’s out of his control, and reacting in a genuine way.

 

I just remember being like this reminds me of a high school assembly but everybody here is famous."

Back when Goldn’s life was normal or more akin to the average 16-year-old, he did a performance in his hometown of San Francisco for a crowd of 11 people. In doing so he unknowingly set the wheels in motion for relationships that would be monumental in his future. 1 of those 11 people was Richard “Big Rich” Bougere, co-founder of Project Level, a local non-profit youth program. Rich was impressed by the heart Goldn put into his performance as if it was for a crowd of thousands. “He offered me a job to work at Project Level and help mentor these kids in the realm of art, fashion, music, tv, modeling,” says Goldn remembering their introduction.

Fast forward to the present day. Goldn performs to sold-out crowds and recently held the first annual Goldn Giveaway Weekend in partnership with none other than Project Level. The full-circle moment only becomes more uplifting as Goldn explains his thought process behind making his giveaway different from other back-to-school ones. “How many giveaways are giving away fresh fits? Brand new shoes? Skincare products? Stuff you don’t necessarily need but stuff you want that makes you excited to go to school and learn because you got this fresh fit on or you don’t got no pimples on your face.”  

Goldn Giveaway isn’t the only byproduct of his relationship with Rich, who Goldn cites as a mentor that put him in a position to win. Rich connected Goldn with his now manager and mentor, Chioke “Stretch” McCoy. Goldn credits Stretch with uncharacteristically putting him on to the game of how the music industry works. On the topic of mentors, Goldn also names Paperboy as his first mentor for getting him in the studio and teaching him about marketing and performing. While his other manager, Austin Rosen, impacted his business smarts teaching him how to make wealth outside of music that’s generational. According to Goldn, all four played a pivotal role in his meteoric rise “my mentors is why everything happened so fast because they gave me cheat codes to life so I didn’t have to go through bullshit [and] I could learn from their experiences.”

There’s no way to predict the future but Goldn’s authenticity at 16 and a series of fateful experiences built relationships to help set him up for success later on. Knowing what he knows now, he would tell his four-years-ago self “yo you knocked off almost all your goals off your music bucket list, way faster than you expected, but it wasn’t always easy. You had to sacrifice a lot, you lost friends, you lost family, you lost your mind a little bit but right now I’m pretty happy. Buckle up kid.”

Along Goldn’s journey from being a Bay Area teenager to a worldwide artist about to embark on his headlining tour, he discovered he likes genre-blending and he’s really good at it. El Dorado is full of different sounds but it’s not thought out or planned, “I just fuck with what I fuck with.” He compares his affinity for genre-blending to the universal human experience of craving different food at different times. If a beat comes on and it inspires him, the genre doesn’t matter. “I try to listen to myself and my intuition as much as possible.”

If performing is the best drug in the world, then New York Fashion Week is a close second. “That was a movie I ain’t even gon lie to you that was one of the most fun weeks of my whole life,” Goldn tells me. But just like the last time we talked, I have no doubt the forthcoming moments he’s about to experience in his packed schedule will continue to top the past.



Photographer: Ricardo Gomes


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