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In just a few years, Oakland rapper G-Eazy went from being a talented young kid but without a specific plan and path to a chart-topping rapper with a major label and all eras of his hometown behind him. After releasing a handful of loose projects, G-Eazy transformed himself into someone who could act as a centerpiece for well-polished fashion editorials and function as one of the rap game’s most balanced and affable individuals. He wasn’t someone who could just be cynically pushed as “marketable,” he was an artist who many could easily connect with. If the rap game was a poltiical race, he’d be the highest-polling candidate.
As a young rapper, G-Eazy must have matured a lot quicker than most. It didn’t take long for him to discover his own way to weave together an array of his craft’s strongest styles and personalize them. His winning strategy found him mixing together a carefully-curated handful of rap’s dominant, effective sounds and funneling them through a neatly-packaged, well-polished, but personal lens. If you look at his timeline of releases, once he found the approach that stuck, he ran with it and he wasted little time in recording new music. It’s cliche to simply say that “hard work pays off,” but if you find a solid formula and work at it, your success story might not be that different from G-Eazy’s.
Since the storm surrounding his debut album for RCA began brewing a couple years back, he’s taken every opportunity to strike a chord with a wider audience and ran with it. He’s sharpened his skills as an emcee, nailed the formulas for club and radio singles, quickly become one of his label’s most appealing prospects and always produced bars that felt like they were pulled from his own life-story. He might be able to make it on radio and the charts, but he still uses songwriting as therapy and ensures his flow is as agile and airtight as it can be. He digs deep and tells you his story without spin, but he’ll hit up all the afterparties and ensure he has singles with a melodic, infectious hook. Like many successful crossover acts before him, G-Eazy is as well-rounded as he can be.
Straight out of Oakland, CA, G-Eazy’s hit-all-bases approach and rise to the top aren’t too far away from the other stories told by his city’s scene, even if his aesthetic and delivery are. Bay Area rappers have always had a penchant for penning stories about every experience in life and serving them up in a slick fashion capable of generating income and earning respect — even Too $hort’s “Gettin’ It” was a hit and remains a California radio staple. G-Eazy works with Lil B and counts him as a “good friend,” but he can name a laundry list of hometown heroes on a moment’s notice and cites the Bay’s underground king The Jacka as a favorite. While he might first come off as an unlikely face for his place of origin, he’s respected by purist-approved legends such as E-40 — who has collaborated with him — and spents hours listening to equal parts Mac Dre, Keak Da Sneak, Messy Marv and The Pack. He’s taken his entirely Oakland existence and upbringing and twisted them into a package that’s artistically-honest and works well on billboards and radio-DJ playlists.
At present time, G-Eazy continues to be living proof that his jack-of-all-trades approach is working. After releasing two successful studio albums back to back, he’s found himself at the beginning of his most massive tour to date. Over the course of several months, G-Eazy will be performing at sold-out venues in music’s biggest, most competitive markets. Arenas suited for popstars will welcome him as their main event. Multitudes of fans across the globe will wait hours to see him, while his own motivation will probably become even stronger. With his upper echelon status firmly entrenched and his latest globe-trotting trek just beginning, we linked up with Eazy to talk about what he lives for, his feelings about his most recent album, meeting Kanye West and more.
With this new tour, what can we expect these new sets as opposed to past performances?
It just keeps on getting bigger and crazier. Like anything else, you scale up and move up to different sized venues. When we first started, we were all traveling in a van, playing in small, 200-cap rooms and barely making enough money to put gas in the tank and get to the next city. We would travel with a rice cooker, stay with friends — there was only so much we could do. When you move up, the show gets bigger and with experience, you push yourself to get better. I just love performing, and my whole team takes touring seriously. We put a lot of thought into the production, the setlist, the whole vibe of the setlist. This tour’s going to be crazy, we’re even doing a couple arenas.
Do you think this tour’s going to be the one you enjoy the most up until this point?
I feel like every single new tour is now the one I enjoy the most. I pray I never get bored or never get dated, but I live for the road. I always feel like the latest one is the one I’m most excited about.
With your latest album When It’s Dark Out, what are you most proud of when it comes to the music on the album?
How honest I was able to be. Especially on a song like “Everything Will Be Okay.” To open up like that is not easy, especially when you’re sharing something that personal with the world. But, that’s the power of music: that I can express myself that way and people can identify with that feeling. Even if you’ve never experienced that, that’s just the power and connection of music.
Is it a release to make music like that?
It’s definitely a release — it’s therapeutic. It’s cool to turn up and just talk shit — there’s a time and a place for that, and I do that on the record. There’s songs on it that are just that and that’s the sport of hip-hop. But, there’s also a time and place to go somewhere deeper and open up to say something. I just try to balance the two.
Do you feel like this last album is your most balanced and well-rounded release so far?
Yeah. Like with anything, you want to push yourself to get better at whatever it is you do in life. I just care a lot about everything I put my name on. I want to just kill everything, I want to constantly push myself to evolve, improve and get better. When you take a whole project and look at it you should say, “this is my best work to date.” If Apple comes out with a new computer, it should be faster, it should be lighter, it should be better than its predecessor. You just always have to push yourself to constantly improve.
With this album, do you have any personal favorites that stand out to you?
I like “One of Them” with Big Sean, “Of All Things” with Too Short — that was a fun one to make. And, of course, “Everything Will Be Okay” with Kehlani.
Concerning that song “Champion” with Lil B, Iamsu!, Kehlani, how did that come about?
Kehlani hit me and she rounded the troops and made it all happen. I cut my verse on the spot, and I said, “let’s get Based God” and she was thinking the same exact thing. It just all came together real quick.
How was it to have Lil B on a song?
It’s a blessing (laughs). That’s a life goal, you can die happy knowing you recorded a piece of music like that. That’s a good dude, he’s a really good friend of mine — I talk to him pretty frequently.
Growing up in Oakland, do you feel you like you learned and gained anything from that that you woudn’t have growing up in Los Angeles or somewhere else?
You’re a product of your environment and inspired by what you’re surrounded by and the culture you grew up from within. If I would have grown up in Montana, maybe I would have been a folk singer or something.
Do a lot of the high-profile, legendary Bay Area artists have respect for you and enjoy your sound?
Yeah, and to me that means the world. Just meeting people that I admire, that I look up to, and sharing that mutual respect is what it’s all about.
Have you ever had any starstruck moments meeting someone you grew up listening to?
Hell yeah, I’m a fan of music and always will be. No matter where my career goes or how big I get, I’m still just a fan of music. When I meet people that I look up to — like an E-40, a Jay Z or a Kanye — for the first time, I’m still starstruck. Why wouldn’t I be? These are my heroes.
How was it meeting Kanye? How did you guys link up?
Crazy. It was after one of the last shows on his Yeezus tour, and one of my managers — who has managed him for years and was with him since the jump — he brought me backstage to meet him. I was almost too nervous to speak, I just started babbling and rambling and froze (laughs). He was really cool.