REVIEW: Alyst — Gold (SINGLE)
Owning a verse with more than your voice doesn’t mean inviting a lot of nonsense into the mix just to obstruct the audience’s view of your skill. There’s no hiding behind a hook if you want to make a splash in modern hip-hop; you’ve got to be out there front and center every time, hitting words with equal parts melodic control and rhythmic command, both of which Alyst exhibits quite marvelously in his new single with Affluent Oscar Sanchez, “Gold.” Out this January and already making a lot of noise left of the dial, “Gold” is representative of what it means for a rapper to extend their emotion beyond the limitations of their lyrics, and I think it’s going to bring a lot of love Alyst’s way over the late winter and early spring seasons.
The balance between instrumental and vocal virtuosities is key to our appreciating all of the intricacies there are to behold in this single, but it’s worth pointing out that neither of the players here sounds all that interested in putting over the top theatrics ahead of their poetic ambitions. Alyst is so smooth in his delivery here, letting the groove shape his emotional subtext more often than not, that I think he was ready to record this piece long before he ever had the harmonies worked out in his head. These lyrics are him, and vice-versa, which has not been true of many rap singles or even EPs that I’ve had the chance to peek at over the last few months.
While it’s obvious that Alyst has a lot he wants to accomplish as a recording artist, he’s never acting like someone whose eyes are wider than the horizon in “Gold.” Not only do his actions carry with them a sense of humbleness that I don’t hear nearly as much of as I should in hip-hop these days, but it’s also pretty clear to me that he’s going above and beyond to present with as poised an attitude at the center of the mix as possible as to show off a template for what we’ll see in his live stage show. He doesn’t want to break off everything all at once, and rightly he shouldn’t; he’s got a whole career ahead of him to do just that.
For thoughtful hip-hop with a next-level lyrical attitude, you needn’t look much further than the sounds Alyst is laying down with Affluent Oscar Sanchez in the new single “Gold” this winter. If this is a preview of what the album Hits Now Questions Later is going to be made of, I think it wouldn’t be unfair to say that Alyst is bound to get a lot of praise from both the critics he’s already won over as well as a rap fan base that needs something a little meatier than the emo crowd is able to produce in 2022. “Gold” is the best of many worlds condensed into a powerhouse single, and I’m hoping to hear a lot more material like it soon.