Over the past year, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter rum.gold has been making the biggest, most serene musical waves imaginable. From funk-filled collaborations with award-winning poet Jamila Woods, to creating dance floor-ready electro-grooves with the likes of Tycho, this is an artist who can venture into any sonic terrain and still emerge victorious. wonderland
rum.gold grew up spending time between the homes of different family members. Accordingly, on "Thicker Than Water", released independently last month, he explores the competing definitions of family and belonging he’s experienced throughout his life, ranging from his biological family to the friends he summoned as a second family. On songs like “Follow the Light” and “Human”, he sings, in his delicate falsetto, of a redemptive love. Yet the title track finds him grappling with the ways he hasn’t always felt loved by his family in the same way. “My mother broke my heart before I could ever fall in love / My father broke my heart before I ever knew what it was,” he sings. vice
The singer grew up in DC when the city was still predominantly Black. There’s a reason, after all, why the American capital is known as Chocolate City—and his connection to the city’s rich musical history runs deep. Like Marvin Gaye, whose music he often listened to in car rides with his grandmother, he was born at Howard University Hospital. His mother lived on U Street, a cultural hub that was home to about 15 jazz clubs in the 1940s, incubating the talent of legends like Duke Ellington. vice
In 2012, rum matriculated at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. But although he would spend the next four years studying trumpet, he found himself gravitating to vocals for the first time.
A year later, he uploaded covers of Lianne La Havas’ “Tease Me”, Moses Sumney’s “Plastic,” and Matt Corby’s “Monday” to an anonymous SoundCloud, hoping to hone his skills without fear of rejection. And though he started garnering praise for his falsetto online and networking with producers like Berlin-based James Chatburn, who would eventually go on to produce yaRn, not even his Berklee friends knew he was singing on the side.