24kGoldn – ‘El Dorado’ review: a pop-rap superstar is born

The Bay Area native wanted to prove his rap credentials – but his skills as a pop master are just as dazzling on his debut

In the buildup to debut album ‘El Dorado, 24kGoldn had truly had enough of the chatter around his name. Hitting back at naysayers lamenting his rapping ability, the San Francisco native declared on Twitter that this album was going to “remind you” that he can “rap his ass off”. In truth, he’s been having just as much success as a modern-era pop hero; the 20-year-old’s spritely team-up with pal iann dior, ‘Mood’, was one of 2020’s biggest hits, peaking at Number One in the UK and all around the world.

And his pop skills serve him well on his debut, offering opportunities to show off the unique tone and delivery he has compared to his peers. But he needn’t worry about reminding anyone about his rapping talent, on opening song ‘The Top’ – where 24kGoldn clearly, and rightfully, sees himself – those who question his rap skills are put to shame as quickened rhymes, braggadocio and Ginuwine-inspired soulful-synths offer evidence to counter. On the debut’s highlights like ‘Coco’ and ‘Company’, he holds his own with rap giants like DaBaby and Future, particularly with the latter, with whom he proudly claims that they “keep it real, keep it hot — just ask some n****s on my block”.

There’s little denying that he straddles both pop and rap culture with a distinct likeability. He’s catchy and incisive on tunes like ‘Butterflies’, which tell the tale of a youngster trying to find his footing in love; the nostalgic ’00s pop production sounds little like modern rap, and is all the better for showing that off. The lack of rapping – and some spot-on backing vocals from Kaash Paige – makes it just as memorable, while his mega-hit ‘Mood’ is tacked on at the end to act as a smug victory lap in the face of doubters.

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Being earmarked as pop sensation who can still hang out with rap’s true craftsmen is a rare feat, but one that he should embrace; he’s a talented storyteller and unique musical prospect – whether it’s rap, pop, or something completely different, 24kGoldn will always have the midas touch.

Details

  • Release date: March 26
  • Record label: Records, Columbia
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