Goldyard grows up

MCs A.T. and In-Doe reflect on loss, change, and family

Photo credit: J. Raff (@jraffshoots)
BIRDWATCHING: Goldyard's A.T. (from left) and In-Doe have never adhered to hip-hop formulas.

They didn’t want to start the show without him. It was March 2017, and Goldyard’s A.T. and In-Doe were standing outside of Criminal Records with a few friends on a Friday night, waiting patiently for Grip Plyaz to arrive. He’d just finished another round of cancer treatments, and the grueling schedule made moving around a strenuous task. It didn’t matter. He promised his friends he’d be there to perform their collaboration “Down4it” off of Goldyard’s third studio release, Fuck Culture 3

For a set performed inside a record shop, it was a raucous performance. In-Doe’s standing ponytail flapped up and down as he stomped his Jordan 13’s into the floor. Standing across from him was A.T., arms fully extended, hands flailing about with his fingers pointed down as if to say, “This is our house!” Standing between them was Grip Plyaz, tired, weak, but absolutely destroying his verse. Everyone, including the two MCs, stood watching in awe, not realizing it would be the last time the group would ever perform the song together.

Three months later, Grip Plyaz passed away from complications of the pleomorphic sarcoma he’d been fighting for two years. Like many artists in the Atlanta hip-hop community, A.T. and In-Doe were heartbroken. “I think that affected everyone if you knew him or not. You just felt the loss,” In-Doe Says. “He was ATL.”

Despite being an underground legend in Atlanta, Grip’s influence and genius were never fully appreciated until he passed. Like their friend and mentor, Goldyard’s contributions to the city’s musical fabric are often overlooked. The strength of their independently released Fuck Culture trilogy (which predated Migos’ Culture) has enabled A.T. and In-Doe to share stages with Mobb Deep, Cam’ron, Scarface, and Waka Flocka.

As Atlanta became the world’s epicenter for trap music, the duo, along with producer Flick James, found their niche as lyrically and sonically progressive rappers. The Fuck Culture series showcased Goldyard’s ability to go from flexing their machismo (“Cosby Kids”), contemplating mortality (“Die Tonight”), and embracing their rap calisthenics alongside some of the city’s best lyricists (“Mxe”).

The group’s latest release, eponymously titled Goldyard, continues their tradition of genre pushing — a tradition which has been both their gift and their curse. “We used to get in meetings with labels and they’d want to strip us from that,” A.T. says. “They’d want us to make one sound, and have us stay in one lane and focus on that sound.”

Asking Goldyard to maintain a sense of sonic tunnel vision was never something the group felt good about. After all, A.T. and In-Doe have never really adhered to the prescribed standards for what makes an artist successful in the city. “A lot of people are content just with being in the scene though there’s only a handful of artists that are really trying to push for something, and the rest are just here for show and Instagram posts,” In-Doe says.

Though the group’s roots are in Atlanta, they’re actually transplants, which is nothing new in this transient city. A.T. hails from Charlotte and In-Doe was born and raised in New York City before relocating to North Carolina where he met his partner-in-rhyme. Before ever opening for hip-hop legends, they were two kids working on music out of a house off Moreland Avenue in East Atlanta. They would walk to their shows in EAV to perform with other left field acts such as Hello Ocho and Cousin Dan. 

A.T. remembers those early aughts of Goldyard trying to establish a sound and build their brand. “I used to pay junkies to cut our grass so we could work on music then one stole the lawn mower,” he says. 

Never deterred, even by thieving drug addicts, Goldyard continued to see their fair share of change on the musical landscape. They call out Department Store being shut down, the Dungeon Family reunion at One Musicfest, A3C’s rise, and the aforementioned loss of their friend Grip Plyaz as moments that changed the city’s terrain forever.

Beyond these shifts in the music and the city itself, A.T. and In-Doe are also growing into adulthood. Both are fathers and family guys now. Partying hard has given way to shopping for car seats and attending parent-teacher conferences. Regardless, the music is never on hold. The group’s working on more new music, as well as solo projects.

For Goldyard, family has given them a clear focus.

“I feel like everything has to have a reason or explanation because I’m responsible for them now,” A.T. says. “I did everything I’ve done up to this point to be able to do what I want in life. So, I look at my two-year-old son and if he starts ridin’ to it I know it’s gon’ go.”

Goldyard plays Estoriafest on at 97 Estoria on June 23, and Union EAV on July 28.

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