Being born and raised in Arkansas doesn't necessarily precipitate major label hip-hop success. But for Goon des Garcons, his undeniable grit and tenacity blazed his own lane into a Def Jam contract and a nationally relevant fanbase. Goon recently caught up with EARMILK as he releases the first 3-song appetizer to his upcoming major-label debut this June and talked about his unlikely come-up, his inimitably raw style, and the pluses and minuses of a major label deal.
“This project ended up being even crazier than I expected” Goon relates over the phone, “Once we got to the mastering portion of the album, I was just blown away. Definitely my best project yet.” A conglomeration of songs from multiple eras, Goon's upcoming project was originally scheduled to be released under a different name and at a different date but some late-stage pivoting was necessary due to Covid restrictions. "This project is different from my other ones because this is my first album on a major label. So everybody wants their first album to be this big, magnum opus type thing. And like it was originally gonna be like that but when Covid hit last year I pivoted because I didn’t want to drop the album of my life during quarantine." Some maneuvering and readjusting was necessary as Goon, like many artists, had to change his whole schedule to compensate for lack of touring and fan engagement during the pandemic. With some optimism back on the horizon for artists and live music, now seemed like the perfect time to release his backlog of bangers and raucous anthems.
Signing to Def Jam is a dream for many up-and-coming artists, one that rarely if ever can become reality. For an artist like Goon, it was never about the major label co-sign, it was about expanding the influence and getting his music to as many people as possible. Still the 'new kid on the block' at the culture-defining label, there remains a very relevant and important DIY component to his music. "I'm still the new guy at the label so I handle a lot of stuff myself. I don't really have an A&R or anything" Goon laughs. "Anytime you start at a new job, a new school, anything; you have to prove yourself. You can't come in and be super egotistical like I'm gonna be top priority, that stuff takes time. Especially when you're on a roster with some of the biggest artists in the world." The jump from DIY to Def Jam has certainly been an adjustment for the Arkansas rapper but judging by his recent releases, it hasn't slowed him down in the slightest.
In regards to his come-up from Little Rock, Arkansas, Goon and his friends had to build their own scene from an area with little to no musical background. "We didn’t have a scene out there so me and my homies really tried to make our own scene” he explains, “Me and Kari Faux, bLAck pARty made the first real rap scene in Arkansas. The older people didn’t want to help put us on to shows and venues so we started reaching out to venues and building our own relationships. After a couple years there was a showcase called Fire Room that put all the different scenes together in one; hip-hop, dreampop bands, hardcore. Everybody came together and we just build this little scene out of nowhere.”
Goon's new 3 song offering BULLY includes "BULLY", "FINE", and previously released Cuco collaboration "A24". "BULLY" is a prototypical banger for the energetic lyricist, with deafening 808s marauding over sharp and edgy synth stabs. "FINE" is a collaboration with longtime producer and collaborator Idle Kid, whose boisterous and deft production has helped intrinsically grow the signature sound of both artists. Something like a Batman and Robin combo, where both artist and producer play the role of Batman, Goon warns the best is still yet to come from the tag team. "Me and Idle got some crazy stuff on the way, stay tuned." The short song pack ends with "A24", a woozy and eccentric ode to the cult production company responsible for modern classics that sees Goon and Cuco trading cinema-themed bars over disarming synth bells and viciously up-tempo drums.
There is clearly a lot of pent-up energy in the Arkansas rapper as he salivates over the prospect of finally unveiling some of the gems of his unreleased vault to the world. Over the next several weeks, fans both new and old will learn something new about Goon des Garcons as he steadily drops his next full-length release. It's hard not to get excited just thinking about the prospect of an artist of Goon's caliber finally being able to release his bided musical energy via shows and live events.