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Album Review: “El Dorado” by 24kGoldn

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24kGoldn has quickly become one of the biggest emerging stars in the melodic trap scene. Following 2019’s breakout hit “Valentino,” 24kGoldn became an artist known for his catchy hooks and melodies. With “Mood” blowing up as a TikTok song garnering nearly a billion Spotify streams, his music has been heard by nearly anybody who spends time on the internet.

With an energetic and lively delivery, 24kGoldn has quickly learned how to become a hit-maker and somebody who can dominate radio plays. I have no doubt that he will continue to be a major commercial presence for years to come, and it’s very possible that he is just getting started. At just 21 years old, he is already one of the most popular melodic rappers right now. Although he is far from the most technically proficient in rap, he has become good at what he is going for very quickly. 

With his debut studio album arriving earlier this year, 24kGoldn’s rise to superstardom is already well underway.

Here are my track-by-track reactions and overall initial impressions of “El Dorado.”

24kGoldn: “El Dorado” (March 26, 2021)

1. “The Top” 

A fantastic way to start the album. A lively and light-hearted track over an enjoyable beat definitely looks like the blueprint for 24kGoldn, and this track is a great execution of that formula. The flows throughout are refreshing and captivating, and the execution is everything I would hope for. A feel-good anthem that I’ve had on repeat since its release, this is definitely the sound that 24k should be hoping to replicate in the future. 

2. “Company” ft. Future

24kGoldn’s verse and vocals could have been much stronger on the second track. There is a decent hook, but nothing too exciting happening at any point. Future comes in to provide a nice feature, but this song just isn’t the most captivating overall. The beat is a bit generic, and there isn’t anything exciting enough to pique my interest quite like the intro.

3. “Love Or Lust” 

I really don’t think I can really give any compliments to this song beyond it being just a little bit catchy. It sounds like 24k is trying to make the next breakout hit on every song, with catchy melodies dominating the focus instead of quality vocals, innovative production or any redeeming content or uniqueness in writing.

4. “Outta Pocket”

The production on this one gets off to a nice start and keeps at a quality level throughout. The energy of 24kGoldn is definitely contagious, and this one is an enjoyable listen. A better and more fitting vocal performance also makes this one an improvement from the previous two songs.

5. “Coco” ft. DaBaby

Though “Coco” is one of the leading singles for the album, I haven’t been a fan of this one since it came out. It’s not horrible, but it is not impressive at all. I’m not sure why it seems like every single artist in the world feels the need to get a feature verse from DaBaby, one of the more one-dimensional rappers of the modern era, but his feature really detracts from the song.

6. “Butterflies”

The impassioned delivery on the chorus is refreshing, but it sounds overly raw. So many notes sound poorly executed, and it makes it hard to listen to at some points honestly. 

7. “Breath Away” 

I appreciate 24kGoldn’s raw, abrasive vocals in certain instances, but it is definitely something constantly noticeable in the delivery, to the point of being distracting at times. This track is pretty catchy, but again, unfortunately there aren’t many redeeming elements beyond that. These songs have incredibly similar structures and content and it doesn’t keep it as the most engaging listen.

8. “Yellow Lights”

A pretty generic beat, vocals that feel hit-or-miss throughout, and     static content. The album is in a bit of a lull in terms of quality at this point. It feels like this entire album is largely driven by a strictly commercial focus, and the songs are being forced out of some hit-making algorithm that just isn’t quite refined.

9. “3, 2, 1”

This sounds like a very basic delivery of the punk-rock trap fusion sound which is gaining some commercial prominence. Both the production and 24k’s delivery throughout are poorly executed and not enjoyable. The sound and style are a bit of a change-up from prior tracks, but instead of just sounding generically reminiscent of another subgenre, this one sounds pretty bad at what it’s going for.

10. “Empty” ft. Swae Lee

Prior to my first listen, seeing a Swae Lee feature on this album was promising, as I thought that Swae Lee’s melodic vocals and hit-making abilities would perfectly compliment all of 24kGoldn’s strengths. However, that excitement was deflated on the first listen of this one. 24kGoldn provides nothing intriguing with his redundant performance, and Swae Lee’s feature falls flat. The mediocrity (being generous) of the feature here is really a low point, especially given the potential that I thought this collaboration had. A lot of the excitement in the album has been lost by the tenth track. 

11. “Cut It Off”

The most notable aspect of this one is the new flows presented on 24k’s verses. An improved rapping performance on this one makes it a little bit refreshing, but unfortunately the content and the style don’t change up overall enough to make it genuinely refreshing or captivating.

12. “Don’t Sleep”

This is not the kind of production that 24kGoldn should be focusing on. A minimalist and slowed beat puts his sometimes harsh singing at the spotlight, which really isn’t strong enough to hold a song by itself. 

13. “Mood” ft. iann dior

This song has obviously gained fame for its viral presence on TikTok, and it makes sense why. It is an incredibly catchy song that is actually pretty enjoyable. I’m not going to say that it’s amazing, but it’s undeniably fun and a proper way to close out the album.

Overall, I am not really surprised by what I heard. I feel that most aspects of this album’s delivery were made with a clear focus on being commercially successful, and continuing 24kGoldn’s breakthrough in mainstream music. It feels like nearly every song is an effort to make the next biggest hit, and I wish that there was more of a focus on making quality music rather than making hits. I was expecting a collection of singles rather than a cohesive album, and that’s what I got. 

24kGoldn is an artist with great potential, and a few of the songs on here make that very clear. Songs like “The Top” keep this album from being terrible and put it in a class of mediocrity. The intro is actually one of my favorite songs that has come out this year, and I think provides a great glimpse of the enjoyable music that 24kGoldn can produce with the proper focus. There are a couple of fun songs to keep in rotation from this album, but as a whole it isn’t very strong. With all of that being said, I think it has some redeeming aspects in terms of the melodic trap lane of rap. There’s still some excitement to watch the rest of 24kGoldn’s career unfold, and I think that he will be a significant presence in rap for a while to come (in terms of popularity, if nothing else).

Favorite Songs: “The Top”

Album Score: 57/100
Check out this Spotify playlist and like it to follow along with some of some of my favorite songs of 2021 as the year progresses!

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Nick Sligh is a Junior from Athens, Georgia, studying Economics and International Relations. Nick is always open to discuss anything relating to music, NBA basketball, and movies/TV. As somebody with a deep interest in hip-hop/rap and r&b music, Nick covers these genres through his articles. Feel free to contact him at nsligh 'at' stanforddaily.com