“When your real name is Golden, you’re surely destined for the stars. Little surprise, then, that 24kGoldn is having a moment.
His song ‘City Of Angels’ – think Post Malone covering Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ – is climbing the UK Singles Chart, going crazy on TikTok and the banging song has just had a remix from Yungblud, too. The San-Fran native’s debut EP ‘Drop Outta College’ is similarly explosive – the release smashes together pop–rock, pop rap and alt-R&B in 26 spritely minutes.
24kGoldn tells NME about dealing with fame, his global ambition and offers some sage advice if you’re still struggling with quarantine.
Let’s have a one word description of your music, then…
“‘Golden’. I think because my real name is Golden that’s it’s like some ancient prophecy shit. You name your kids something and then they grow up and fulfil that role. As a kid, people always told me growing up, ‘You’re going to get all the girls, you’re going to be handsome, you’re going to be a celebrity’. Literally because I did some Honda commercials when I was a kid. And I was always popular in school, but after this happened, everyone kind of just saw me at another level. I was only eight years-old, but I think hearing those kinds of things definitely subconsciously pushes you in a certain direction.”
There’s a big 2009 vibe to ‘City of Angels’…
“That was the first thing that I said when I finished making that song. It makes me feel nostalgia for something that’s never happened. I felt like it was a really authentic reflection of that time period and the music is influenced by what I heard growing up around that time.”
There’s a lot of attention heading your way right now. How are you dealing with fame?
“I don’t even consider myself famous now. To me, being famous is when you go outside the house and can’t leave without having security there or something like that. I think a lot of people just appreciate me and know who I am. My generation – we’re kind of attention whores. People go out their way to get attention because it’s the most instant form of gratification and we’re living in a world now where you can post one thing on Instagram and half a million people see it. The messages I promote and the way that I go about dealing with people is from a place of love. It’s not like a situation where I’m like 6ix9ine and I’ve been talking all this shit and making a lot of enemies. But I think a lot of people just want to be famous for no reason just because they think they can.”
Are you shooting for a global presence right now?
“I’m kind of already doing that. The music I make doesn’t really sound like anybody else, like when you listen to a song by me, you instantly know it’s 24K. If not, you’re like, ‘Yo, who the fuck is this? This is fire’. I just want to like make good music the world can get inspired from. When I check my Spotify stats and that, one thing that I noticed is I’m equally as big and on a global scale as I am in the US. So if I keep continuing this way, I can have a real global influence.
In an interview, you spoke about your love for niche things. What are you big on collecting?
“Some stuff that I liked that might be niche now might be like super popular in a couple of years, but I feel like what’s yet to catch mainstream attention is my fashion for sure, [and] the kind of brands that I like. I’m always big on finding new designers. [Also] my interest in cars: a lot of people just want to get that vehicle equivalent of a Gucci belt, like a signal of ‘Yo, I have money!’. But I’d rather get a vintage classic car or an older luxury vehicle that has history behind it and it doesn’t look like anything else out there.”
Growing up you wanted to be a stock broker. Why?
“I think it’s so incredibly complex and it’s fucking hard to understand. I have a lot of respect for the people that have [gotten good at it], because it’s basically like pulling money out of thin air. But the reason I wanted to be a stockbroker was because a hedge fund manager was just the richest person I ever met growing up. So I just wanted to achieve success and that was the only person in my life that had achieved the level of success that I wanted.”
You’ve had the influence of Paperboy as your mentor – what has he brought to your career?
“I think every successful person in their life has had a mentor. No matter what you can read online, knowledge is useless without application. If there is no blueprint, and you can try and fail and try and fail a hundred times before you figure it out. But why do that when you can find somebody that has done these things before that can really help you, mould you into the type of person that you want to be. There’s nothing wrong with getting help.”
But I’ve never been the type to set quantitative goals. I just want to create a significant impact on a global scale that’s going to change people’s lives for the better. And I feel like music is the first way I’m going to do that. it’s crazy and really humbling to see how many DMs I get saying, ‘Your music got me out of a hard place’. The fact that I can do that for other people, that I’m really happy about that. So as long as I can keep doing that and keep expanding, that’s the first thing I have in mind.”
Do you have advice for anyone stuck in a rut right now?
“I would say just figure out the best way to use your time. If you don’t have to be at work, there’s 24 hours in a day, you can sleep eight of them and still have 16 hours to exercise, learn, read, and still relax. Right now, it’s like being in a cocoon. You’re stuck inside so you might as well flourish and get yourself ready to go. Be a butterfly and take on the world out there.”
24k Goldn’s ‘Dropped Outta College’ is out now