January 25, 2022

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!

Token is the definition of a lyricist, someone who can rap on par with all the elites. Hailing from a small town near Boston, Massachusetts, the rapper has consistently proven himself over and over again, arriving on the scene with a spitfire flow, relentless bars, vivid storytelling, and speaking nothing but the truth. In fact, it’s his vulnerability and honesty has drawn in audiences from all over the world, building a core fanbase that most artists only wish they could have.

Real name Ben Goldberg grew up listening to the likes of 50 Cent and Eminem. During that time, he had the ultimate co-sign from Mark Wahlberg, who even helped Token get an acting role in the movie Patriot’s Day. Ever since then, it’s been all the way up.

Fast forward to 2021, Token unleashes his most meaningful project to date: Pink Is Better. Released via his own label Never Too Different in partnership with Atlantic records, the 18-track project features all-star appearances from Rico Nasty, Benny The Butcher, JID, and Lil Skies, with production from Ronny J, Digital Nas, and Danny Majic. While Token is always introspective in his music, this album touches on his most vulnerable moments, including struggles with depression, anxiety, and even an eating disorder.

Flaunt caught up with Token in Los Angeles to discuss the new project, the meaning behind it, making the trailer, being a fan of Rico Nasty before working with her, collaborating with Benny The Butcher, his fashion sense, goals, and more!

New album Pink Is Better out now, what are the vibes?

Vibes are good, the vibes are great actually. It’s inspiring, it’s exciting. This one feels different because this is the first time I really feel like I’m meant to be here. Every other time I’ve been to LA, it’s felt like it was better than me. Now it doesn’t feel like that anymore. I’m excited to move out here.

When is that happening?

Any time now, I just have to look for cribs. I’m glad it’s happening now. There’s a thing in Massachusetts where people say “stay in Mass, put on for Mass!” But I’m trying to live up to my potential, be the biggest I can, and then put on for Mass. I can put on for Mass out here. I’m a little nervous. Not nervous but I’ll be away from family, away from the homies that I grew up with forever. But I definitely do at the same time feel ready, now’s the time.

I know the title is about balance! Why is Pink Better?

Pink Is Better just because pink is health, pink is balance. That’s really what it represents throughout the album. Over these last two years of making the album, it’s been a journey of some of the most extreme shit I’ve ever been through. White being one side, red being another side, but I’m happy I feel centered. I feel like me, I came out of the other side of some really scary shit. I feel healthy.

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I feel like you’re in your prime right now. How was it creating from such a vulnerable place and reliving those moments? 

For me, it’s really amazing to listen to the album because it’s literally my last two years. It’s a story of this breakup happening, the first breakup I’ve really been through. That waking up the shit in me that I haven’t felt since I was so young. Feeling like you’ve lost a piece of yourself, then that resulting in me feeling defeated. Feelings get carried over in different places so feeling like I lost a piece of myself, that could carry over to my career. My music. Did I lose a piece of myself? Am I still meant to do this? Then me rebelling against that and trying to have fun, having more fun than I’ve ever had. Just that bounce back and forth. This is the first time that I’m not focused on the numbers. I’m so proud of the truth in it that I know whether you see it in the numbers or you don’t — and the numbers are good, I’m not saying they’re not. But no matter what it is or continues to be, I know the impact is going to be real.

You said the trailer was super last minute, how did that set the stage for the album?

I wanted to throw in peoples faces the vulnerability and the uncomfortability dictated by love. That’s why my girl is the one who makes me feel uncomfortable with the water, then blows my clothes off. [laughs] That’s what the album is: vulnerability. The first domino that made the others go down was a breakup,was love.

How was it linking with Rico Nasty on “High Heels”? Her energy is amazing!

So fire, I’ve been a Rico fan. The shit I honestly heard from her was the Kenny Beats project. I love her music, love what she represents, love how herself she is. It never feles like she forces anything. Being a female in hip-hop, I’m sure people get you to do shit whether you feel comfortable about it or not. She’s stayed herself, I have big respect for her. Once I made that song, I thought “this needs a powerful female on it.” It’s a left song, kind of industrial. She did it, she got on it.

I hadn’t met her in person until we did the video. She was so fun. We had the horse in the video, we’re both were scared of the horse. [laughs] She didn’t know about horses, I didn’t know about horses, and they kick crazy. I had to walk the horse. Sometimes, the horse would tweak out. Horses are huge! The video was a super fun time with all of the scenes. I directed the video, but she actually helped me. There were certain scenes where she gave suggestions. “Oh, we should do this!” And it was fire, she has a good eye. I can’t even believe it still happened because I’m such a fan of hers.

How did “Amsterdam” with Benny The Butcher come about?

Benny I’ve been a fan of since 2020, that’s the year I got obsessed with Griselda. There was one period where I was only listening to Tana Talk 3. It was originally a different beat. My manager knew some of his people. My label Never Too Different posted a video of me listening to Benny and he commented on it. I’m like “oh my god, could this collab be possible?” Shit, we made it happen. He snapped. His last 4 bars were so crazy too, he really killed me on that song. [laughs]

I was going to say! You gotta bring your best bars for that one.

I didn’t make it like “this is a Benny song,” it was really part of the story. Every song is really part of the story. It’s not really about rapping or outshining. I think we complemented each other. His energy was so aggressive and poignant, he snapped on it. I’ve never heard him on a beat like that, because my beats are weird. He’s never been on a beat like that and he killed Iit.

Was that a real story from Amsterdam?

Yeah, I’ve had a lot of stories from Amsterdam.

Talk about making a digital madlib for the album.

Growing up, madlibs were mad fun. I’ve always loved them. The story of Pink Is Better is really a story of different paths. It’s that red money, bitches, good time shit, or this defeated, sad shit. Or it’s this pink balance way, finding the middle ground between it. You can choose different routes, it’s up to you. I thought madlibs would be perfect because you really create your own destiny. You decide the words. That’s one of my favorite things I’ve done; where you go on it and create your own path. The way it was organized: depending on what your answers were, it’d play a specific song that fit your path. It took a lot of tech, [laughs] but it plays you a specific song depending on the path you chose. Fans got snippets before the album came out so it was really fun doing that.

How would you describe your fashion sense?

My fashion sense came late. I was not really a fly kid. I always did care about feeling good in my clothes. Before, it was honestly centered around wearing the biggest stuff so I could hide being overweight. I was always trying to feel comfortable, and I still like to feel comfortable. I don’t leave the house unless the fit and colors are exactly how I’m feeling that day, or else I’d feel uncomfortable. I don’t really like the flashy stuff, I like simple. I’m more about size than anything else. I just want things to fit on my body the right way. I look at size before color, it’s about comfort to me. I want to walk out the crib feeling good. I want what I’m wearing to represent how I’m feeling.

Talk about the fire merch you have as well.

Never Too Different merch! I started the Never Too Different label as I partnered with Atlantic. I’ve always designed my own merch. This was the first time I listened to other people’s design  ideas. We did some exclusive drops that sold out super quick, it was crazy. I’ve never done a limited drop before, but shit was selling out. Every one we did was sold out within 10 minutes. It was really exciting to see because honestly I didn’t think that was going to happen so quickly. The merch we have for the album is really centered around the album: the red high heel, the white flag. Those are both sides of the spectrum that create pink. I really wanted to push that forward and have people rock it. If they’re feeling they’re on the right side one day, rock that high heel side. If they’re feeling the other way, rock that white flag. It’s really embracing the album.

Any goals for the new year?

I’m really excited because I really feel like I’m me. Anything I’m walking into for the first time, I’m not so nervous as much as I used to be. I want to drop a lot of music. This album to me is a fresh start. As much as I want to promote it, I want to come back with new shit. Better shit.  I want to collaborate and I want to get on other people’s projects. I want to do a lot of collabs this year, I think being in LA will help that. I want to be in the scene and show people my true self.

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