When go-go music fills a space, it animates everything in striking distance. It isn’t just the passion in the playing, bolstered by funk flavor and a reverberating big band sound; there’s a connective tissue, a shared energy between the participants—players and patrons alike. The relationship between the lo-fi music and its people has made Washington, D.C.’s homegrown genre a predominantly live-music format. It is a sound and attitude birthed in the city’s black lower-class neighborhoods, in response to their proximity to the seat of federal power, but lack of real of agency. At a go-go, blackness is unimpeachable. We are free. But such spaces continue to disappear in a city pushing out the poorer longtime residents and the music they hold dear.

This impermanent force holds together DMV native GoldLink’s new album, At What Cost. His music doesn’t try to replicate the go-go music that D.C. bandleader Chuck Brown birthed in the 1970s; it seeks to reanimate the vanishing spaces in a rapidly gentrifying city that the genre’s death has left behind.

Throughout the album, GoldLink brings life to sketches of the neighborhoods that raised him, through their unique styles, vernacular, and local forms of expression. Heavily influenced by the District and neighboring Prince George’s County, Maryland, these recordings document coming of age in a changing city—flashbacks of chasing young romance at parties, violence in the streets, and wrestling city control from rivals and feds alike. It’s about proudly calling a place home, even as it seeks to systematically displace you. “Lord I pray for wealth and power over all these motherfuckers,” a voice pleads in At What Cost’s waning seconds. “For the DMV to reign for many moons.”

The new album, the latest in a three-project process of self-discovery, is about growing up broke and black on the fringes of America’s center of power, as the Nation’s capital loses its soul—not only to gentrification and police antagonism, but also community efforts to end go-go in the name of public safety.