It’s 2022 and 24kGoldn, whose real name is Golden Landis Von Jones, should be preparing to leave for his first-ever headline tour in Europe. After a mad rush of success in the past few years, the San Francisco-born rapper has built quite the name for himself and is officially in demand.
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Shot at Hype Studios
It’s 2022 and 24kGoldn, whose real name is Golden Landis Von Jones, should be preparing to leave for his first-ever headline tour in Europe. After a mad rush of success in the past few years, the San Francisco-born rapper has built quite the name for himself and is officially in demand. With that being said, due to the current state of the world, Goldn has had to remain in the States. If it wasn’t for the inconvenience of the pandemic, he would be gearing up to play to crowds in London, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, and Cologne. “You’re bringing back painful memories, man, of what was supposed to be,” he tells MOOD after being reminded of his canceled plans, adding, “I’ve never performed in Europe, but I went for a Yves Saint Laurent fashion show last summer in Venice.”
Tiktok has played a big part in Goldn’s rise to the top. The 21-year-old first made noise in 2019 with Valentino after the single went viral on the video-sharing platform. It became his debut entry on the US Hot 100 and earned him a platinum plaque after 1 million sales. His next song to make a similar impact was 2020’s City of Angels, which charted worldwide and included a remix with British star Yungblud. However, Goldn’s real breakthrough is still imminent, and the world waits with bated breath.
In July 2020, Goldn collaborated with Iann Dior for the contagious pop-rap single Mood. Perfect for the summer, the catchy number continued to dominate both the charts and airwaves for the rest of the year. Mood was Goldn’s third song to go viral on Tiktok. However, the difference this time around was the impact it made globally. Mood topped the charts in over 15 countries, most notably in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Germany, and scored him a nomination at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards for Song of the Year. The track was so hot, that even Justin Bieber and J Balvin wanted a slice of the pie and appeared on a remix. “It was a song that I was really proud of. It came about organically,” Goldn says. “Everyone I played the song to told me it was fire. It had all the signs of having potential, but you can never tell how big a song is going to be.”
With 1.3 billion streams and counting on Spotify, Goldn reflects on why he believes Mood has become that smash that it is today. “It’s a combination of a couple of things,” he explains. “As far as its performance in America, the UK, and other English-speaking countries, I think it’s such a relatable topic. ‘Why you always in a mood?’ can apply to everybody, whether you’re a girl, guy, young, or old, whether you’re the one being in a mood or calling someone else out for their moodiness. The relatability mixed with the catchiness of the melodies and the feel-good production in such feel-bad times, it was uplifting, empowering, and inspirational for people.”
Goldn continues: “As far as the non-English speaking countries, I think “mood” is an easy word to sing or a fun word to say even if you don’t know what it means. Anybody can say it, and it feels good without having any understanding of what you’re saying at all.” The ongoing pandemic has somewhat helped and hindered Goldn’s evolving career. While he may not be able to hit the road in an international continent at any given point, the future’s uncertainty has allowed him to practice stoicism. “You get so much shit thrown at you or rugs pulled from under you but you eventually just go with the flow,” Goldn explains.
“There’s no way to tell for sure what would have happened had it been a normal year,” he states. “Maybe Mood would have been just a blip instead of this huge thing that it was. Maybe it would have been another song that would have taken off. You can never really go back in time and see how things are gonna be different but all I know is I definitely fared pretty well in the pandemic, and I’m happy about that.”
Goldn has wasted no time. After all, they say there is no time like the present. In March last year, he dropped his gold-certified debut album, El Dorado, which was met with both commercial success and critical acclaim. After delivering a catchy pop smash that Gen-Z went crazy for, he assured fans on social media the project was going to “remind you” he is an artist that can still “rap his ass off.” And with El Dorado’s opener, The Top, he proved that by delivering the ultimate middle finger anthem to those who doubted his ability to be a star while bragging about his current status.
Anyone paying close attention to the music being consumed in this day and age will have noticed that people’s taste is more diverse than ever. Because of streaming, categorizing music appears to have become outdated, allowing musicians to freely experiment with their sound and deliver material more frequently. El Dorado is a fair representation of the rap albums from the current climate that is being enjoyed by the younger generation. It takes influences from radio-friendly pop, alternative rock, and hip hop but most importantly still appeals to longtime fans of rap. The genre-bending 13-track LP proves Goldn didn’t just luck out with virality. He’s a genuine songwriter with storytelling skills who’s in the game for the long haul.
For the longest time, collaborations have always been a big part of the rap scene. In addition to Mood, the album’s next couple of singles boasted features with some of today’s most prolific names. Coco, his follow-up release, saw him team up with Grammy Award-nominated musician DaBaby who also had a whirlwind of a year with Rockstar. “I knew I wanted DaBaby on Coco,” he says. “I didn’t know him at the time so I had my people reach out to his people. Our managers are cool, so that was pretty easy. When he pulled up to the video set, it was cool, very professional, very respectable, and mad funny. Now, whenever I see him outside of whatever, it’s all love.” El Dorado’s fifth and final single, the up-tempo guitar-driven Company, featured an artist Goldn had admired way back from when he was in school, Future. ”I met [Future] in Atlanta previous to us working on that song together. I was just recording and he pulled up to the studio and I said wassup. Once I had Company, we reached out. I was like, ‘Yo, there is no one else that belongs on this song except him.’”
Aside from his own music, Goldn has contributed to many other artists’ back catalogs including Clean Bandit, Zhu, and Olivia O’Brien, to name a few. Last year, he worked alongside Ty Dolla $ign and Jack Harlow to create a song, I Won, for the tenth movie in the Fast & Furious franchise: F9: The Fast Saga. More recently, he teamed up with Israeli duo Static & Ben El for Bella and Internet Money for Options. “When I first started, I was getting features offered to me. I’m not going to lie to you, I was definitely going for who got the money and choosing to do that," Goldn openly admits. However, his mindset has since changed. "As time went on, I realized that was less fulfilling and it kinda diluted my sound. I didn’t want to put my stamp on anything I don’t genuinely fuck with. Now, if I’m looking to do a feature on the song, the quality of the song or how much it resonates is much, much more than the money. I’d rather do a feature on a song that could be huge and not be paid anything than getting paid $100,000 to do a feature on something I truly don’t like,” he insists.
Ever since Valentino, Goldn’s music career has been uphill. But, he did have a backup plan. If he wasn’t able to make his dreams into a reality, he was going to study for a business degree to become a hedge fund manager. In the process of working on his education, Goldn would submit his early material on various blogs in hope that he would have his big break. After graduating high school in 2018, he went on to attend the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business but found himself dropping out within the first year after being discovered by the record producer behind the hits for heavyweights such as Megan Thee Stallion, Post Malone, and Chris Brown: D.A. Doman, also known as D.A Got That Dope.
Golden recorded and mixed his first song, Longchamp Shawty, at age 15 and shared the song on the popular music sharing platform SoundCloud. Just a few years later, it would be an article on DJ Booth surrounding the stigma of “SoundCloud rappers” that would ultimately change his life. The outlet suggested aspiring stars should instead share their music to their site so it could be judged solely on their talent and not where the artist decides to upload it. Much to his surprise, Goldn submitted his then-popular song Ballin’ Like Shareef and ended up making that author's top picks list weeks later, where Doman ended up finding him. After learning more about Goldn, he believed there was something special about the then-teenager and introduced him to music executive Barry Weiss, who ended up signing Golden to his independent co-founded label, RECORDS.
“When I started college, I knew I wanted to do music but I didn’t want to take a leap of faith. I wanted to see the trampoline or the net at the bottom so I was like, ok, I can jump and it’s going to be scary but I know I’ve got something waiting there for me,” he says after being asked if leaving university was a hard decision to make. As a result of signing his first record deal, Golden would unleash his debut EP, Dropped Outta College, in 2019, after a string of single releases.
From the very beginning, Goldn’s fellow pupils in high school were supportive and into his music. Back home, however, his parents were not aware of their son’s desire to be a rap star until much later on. “They knew by the time I went to college, but during my first two or three years making music, I didn’t tell my parents at all. I would be doing shows across the bridge in Oakland or Berkeley and coming back home. They would ask me what I was doing the previous night and I would tell them I was just kicking with some friends. By the time I had to make a decision on whether to finish school or chase my dreams, they knew already,” Goldn says. “My mom was a little hesitant because she went to school and she’s more traditional. Her fears are now dismissed, she’s now cool. She’s not tripping at all no more.”
Goldn is not one for looking back and wondering what could have been if he went about trying to get discovered another way. He takes pride in his hard work and firmly believes that he would have always made it one way or another. “The universe has a weird way of rewarding consistency and consistency of effort and honest intentions. I think that’s why it ended up happening for me,” he shares.
Even though he has had a successful run in the past few years, Goldn isn’t getting too self-satisfied with his achievements. The rising star has aspirations to be greater than he already is. “Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have trophies. I would love to win a Grammy, I would love to win an AMA, and I would love to win a VMA. But, it’s not the most important thing in the world to me. I’ve got seven or eight platinum certifications, a gold album, a gold single, and I have zero plaques hanging up in my house right now. It’s cool to get recognition for your efforts but I don’t wanna become stagnant or satisfied by those,” he explains. “In reality, I’m only just getting started and I’m 21. If I let myself get comfortable now instead of going hard for five more years, it’s going to be two different end results.”
Goldn’s seemingly overnight success sparked a conversation that many new stars of today have had to face: the question of whether he is an industry plant or not. While he doesn’t appear phased by the assumptions, Goldn does have an answer as to why he, and so many others, have been accused of being one. “I think it’s because you’ve got all these random kids that wanna feel like they know what’s going on in the music industry. So, they heard one term, and now they’re quick to pass judgement to give themselves the credibility of, one - knowing a music industry term. And two - being able to be like ‘Oh, I know something that you guys don’t. This isn’t authentic, this is an industry plant’,” Goldn says.
He continues: “While there are industry plants, I think they are a lot less common than people think and when people experience virality, that’s often misconstrued for being an industry plant. I don’t necessarily blame those kids because I was a person that believed up until it happened to me with Valentino going viral that things can’t just take off on the internet like that. There has to be some marketing campaign or whatever the fuck behind it. Honestly, sometimes shit like that just goes crazy and catches the algorithm, or one person shares it and it kind of creates a snowball effect. The internet makes a lot of things possible that weren’t before.” Goldn insists that all of the songs that have rapidly taken off have been unexpected. “What’s that quote? Humans make plans and God laughs,” he mentions. “I’ve learned to just go with the flow.”
With over 90 million likes on Tiktok and over a million followers on Instagram, it’s safe to say Goldn has a large presence on social media. That being said, he would happily live without chasing those numbers and instead wishes he could be an artist from a different era. “If [my label] said, ‘Yo, do you wanna have a song that’s big today or one that’s big in the ‘80s or ‘90s,’ I’mma have to go with the ‘80s or ‘90s because the lack of social media makes things feel even more special,” Goldn says. “At the end of the day, I didn’t come into this game to be a fucking Instagram expert or a Tiktoker. I came into this game because I wanted to make music. Now, I’ve had to learn these platforms as a way of getting my songs out there but I think you can ask any artist, they don’t wanna do this social media thing. It’s just part of the game nowadays.”
We’re led to believe that in order to gain followers online and promote your brand, you essentially have to share new content regularly. However, Goldn doesn’t believe that should be the case. “I think that feels like we have to post every so often but if your fans really fuck with you, you don’t have to do it as much. It’s about curating a fanbase that’s going to be like, ‘Yo, my guy ain’t gonna post for 3 months but that’s cool because I fuck with him regardless and we’re gonna stream whatever he last dropped.’ That’s the ideal situation for artists in this day and age,” he states.
As far as new music is concerned, Goldn has teased a deluxe version of El Dorado several times. Now that it has been over a year since the album dropped, he seems to have come to the final decision that this will no longer be happening. “I feel so bad because I flip-flopped six times by this time, telling people there is and isn’t going to be a deluxe. At this very moment, there is going to be no deluxe. It’s been almost a year since I released the album. I think I can stand on that statement,” Goldn shares. Instead, he’s already moved on to what will be the next body of work. “I’ve got a name for the project in my head already and I’ve got some concepts. I think the way to make a great album is to make songs and let your subconscious self naturally speak on what you talk about and fill the gaps that are left,” Goldn shares.
“I think it’s just honing in on what I wanna say,” he says about the creative process. “I’ve been focused more on lyrics and concepts with his project than previous ones because I already know I can do fire melodies, that’s never been hard for me. I wanna challenge myself to be better at the things I’m not as naturally talented at.”
For the time being, fans can expect several single releases before putting out another full-length project. One of his most recent songs, More Than Friends, saw him sample and put his own spin on Biz Markie's iconic song Just A Friend. The legendary rapper, who was referred to as the “Clown Prince of Hip Hop,” died in July 2021. Ahead of releasing the track, Goldn informed his Instagram followers that his wife and family personally gave him permission to honor him. “That song was one of the first rap songs that I had ever heard and fell in love with. I tried flips of this song in the past and it never really felt 100 percent right,” he explains. “I ended up working with these new producers, Philip Lawrence and Davy Nathan, who made a new version that felt right. It didn’t feel as if it was doing too much but still signature, and kinda had a Kanye feel taking that classic sample and reimagining it. I wanted to pay my respects and pay homage to someone that inspired me.” Since that release, Goldn has linked up with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker for the single In My Head and British songstress Mabel for the ‘80s-infused Overthinking.
Goldn ended 2021 and started his new year on a high, performing at Miley Cyrus’ televised New Year's Eve Party event. “Honestly, that was fucking sick. I told Miley already, ‘Thank you for bringing me out,’” he says. “I always wanted to do a live New Year’s Eve show. I had my family watching back home, my friends from everywhere in the world. That was really cool, I appreciated that.” For those wondering whether the duo will be releasing a song together, there is a possibility. “Yeah, that’s the homie right there. It’s more or so waiting until I have the right song than anything,” Goldn adds.
Along with “feeding the people” and giving “as much music as possible while still maintaining a certain threshold of quality,” Goldn’s other goal for 2022 is sticking to a particular regime. “I started doing a daily routine in the morning. I’m waking up between 7 and 9 am. I’m reading, working out, doing affirmations, and taking a cold shower. I feel so much better when I do those things,” he explains. “If I can do that every day, that little change is going to compound into something very, very big.”