Goldlink Credit: Tommy Francis

It seems like every year Wale, arguably the first D.C. rapper to maintain a long career as a national star, promises that he’s working on an album built around go-go. But though he’s flirted with the funk sound of black D.C. that dates back to the mid-60s (see the 2011 regional hit “Bait”), he has yet to deliver that album. Fortunately, D’Anthony Carlos, aka 24-year-old rapper Goldlink, has picked up the slack: his major-label debut, March’s At What Cost (RCA), intertwines rap and go-go with its celebratory throng of percussion, and one especially live-sounding track captures the infectious energy and communal groove of a go-go show (“Hands on Your Knees,” featuring D.C. veteran Kokayi). Goldlink siphons sounds from around the Beltway to give vivid life to his stories of growing up in the city, unwinding his liquid, flamboyant flow through inventive go-go rhythms, summer-sultry R&B melodies, and mellow house keys a la D.C. downtempo heroes Thievery Corporation. (The many D.C. musical characters on the album include the aforementioned Wale.) At What Cost also feels specific to this curious moment in hip-hop, when it seems like the only rule is to frustrate industry expectations—many of the biggest rappers in the game are outsiders and insurgents, and Goldlink fits right in.   v