Melodicism is the present and future of hip-hop, and in his new single with Affluent Oscar Sanchez, the stacked “Gold,” rapper Alyst makes it clear that smooth lyrical lashings are only a cornerstone of his artistry. At its core, “Gold” is built on the back of its harmonies, pristinely inviting us into a surreal backdrop that becomes rather immersive as soon as the vocal comes into focus. Alyst owns the spotlight from beginning to end here, but with Sanchez at his side, he establishes a crossover sound that could appeal to casual rap fans as much as it would hardcore enthusiasts like you and me. 


The chemistry between these guys goes well beyond the lyrical; it’s obvious that the production style was a collaborative effort, as it showcases as much of the instrumental faceting as it does any of the melodically-executed poeticisms. There’s no denying the presence that Alyst has at the center of the arrangement, but when he’s coupled with the right kind of talent, I think his abilities become all the harder for anyone to deny – let alone ignore, especially when they’re cutting up a groove as sexy as the one we hear in “Gold.” 

This beat is pretty enticing, adding to the warmth of the narrative as much as any verse would, and personally, I would credit the percussive componentry with setting up the mood for the latter half of the song even more than the bassline does. There are no purely foundational elements in “Gold;” if it’s in this mix, it’s doing something to enhance the atmosphere that Alyst wants to create, which is a lot more than I can say for the vast majority of rap content coming down the pipes right now. Surrealism might have the underground, but this acerbic artist proves it to be worthless without a supreme focus. 

I love the subtlety of the hook in this single and were it not being offered to us as casually as it is, I don’t know that “Gold” would have the appeal it does in this scenario. There’s just no overvaluing a minimalist climax like this one when you’ve got guys with the level of talent Affluent Oscar Sanchez and Alyst possess at the helm of the project, and this was perhaps the perfect occasion on which to give us everything they’ve got inside of a clean, condensed sampling of their shared style. 

Humbly produced but undeniably worthy of the buzz it’s been attracting in anticipation of its release, “Gold” is a fantastic showcase for Alyst and his skillful collaborator, and likely enough to get the rest of the underground pretty excited about what they’re bringing to the table in 2022. There’s a lot of talk about the future of hip-hop and how it will be shaped, and I think it should be said that indie players like these two are already doing a lot to form a narrative with their sound. This is moxie-driven hip-hop, and exactly what true fans of the genre want to hear this winter.

Garth Thomas