G-Eazy‘s ascension to hip-hop stardom has been anything but typical. In just four years the Bay Area native has gone from indie rap darling to selling out nationwide tours. It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact moment where fantasy crossed over to reality for the rapper, though if you take the name of his debut album literally, you may be inclined to just assume These Things Happen. Except they don’t. Whether you enjoy his music or not, you have to respect the man’s hustle and the way he’s been able to expand his fanbase organically through a steady release of free music on his SoundCloud page. The hype is very real, so much so that G-Eazy was the only hip-hop artist to headline a stage at this year’s Lollapalooza, a testament to how far he’s already come.
I had a chance to catch up with Gerald prior to that performance as he prepared to take the stage Friday night at The Music Lounge 10 Years After-Party presented by Renaissance Hotels, BMF Media Group and Billboard. Having just landed in Chicago after playing a set at Osheaga Festival earlier that day, Gerald was about to dive in to dinner when we first shook hands. Like many rappers, Eazy’s persona is one that’s built on bravado, but in reality Gerald is an incredibly humble and pragmatic dude. At one point during our interview we were interrupted by a few friends and admirers who wanted to snap a couple pics, which G was more than happy to oblige as he posed with a huge grin while hilariously flaunting a stack of $2 bills (which he subsequently used to make it rain during his set about half an hour later). During this exchange an older gentleman pulled me aside and assured me that in all his years working in the industry, Gerald was one of the nicest individuals he’d ever met, also emphasizing that he was special and always made time for people. Perhaps it’s that charisma and magnetism that draws fans to him in the first place. It certainly translates to his live performance, as G-Eazy had one of the more entertaining sets all weekend. In my conversation with Gerald we touched on what it meant for him to be closing out the festivities on Saturday night, along with plans for his new album and some of his early Bay Area influences. Find out what he had to say below.
Chance The Rapper & Noname Gypsy
A week after releasing his surprise mixtape with Lil B, Chance The Rapper is back again with some dope new material. Produced by Cam O’bi, “Israel (Sparring)” is a relatively low-key tune that features Channo kicking a few laid-back bars alongside frequent collaborator, Noname Gypsy. Don’t let the mellow vibes fool you though, as the introspective cut boasts some of the sharpest rhymes we’ve heard all year. There’s no clues yet on the status of Chance’s next solo project, but with his Family Matters tour set to begin later this fall, we hope that means even bigger things are in store for the future.
After teasing us with a snippet of “Say It” late last week, Tory Lanez has come through with the unabridged version of his latest single as promised. It’s barely been a month since the release of Cruel Intentions, Tory’s collaborative EP with the WEDIDIT collective, but the Toronto native is already gearing up for another full length release set to drop through Benny Blanco‘s Mad Love imprint. The fresh new tune is rooted in old school R&B, as Tory once again shows off his singing chops over an instrumental that utilizes a sample of Brownstone‘s “If You Love Me” to perfection. The song is a bit more mellow and relaxed than Tory’s typical output, but we’re not complaining. We trust that you’ll find this one in your rotation way past the end of summer.
We’ve done our best to stay away from the whole Meek Mill versus Drake fiasco that’s dominated the hip-hop headlines this week. While we’ll continue to keep our opinions about the issue to ourselves, it’s hard to ignore this latest output from Drake as he finally responds to some of the criticisms he’s faced. Though he claims to be “Charged Up,” Drizzy stays relatively calm and collected throughout the ominous single. The song was debuted earlier today as part of Drake’s OVO Sound Radio show on Apple Music, along with a few other tracks like “Right Hand”, a flip of D.R.A.M.‘s “Cha Cha”, and a new collaboration between PARTYNEXTDOOR and Travi$ Scott titled “No Feelings”. It’ll be interesting to see if Meek Mill decides to issue his own counter, because chances are this won’t be the last we hear from the two of them.
PARTYNEXTDOOR x Travi$ Scott
Codeine Crazy (Icarus Story)
Fresh off a killer performance at Pitchfork Music Festival, Vic Mensa has released his own unique take on Future‘s “Codeine Crazy“, first premiered live during his set this past weekend. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, coinciding with the release of Future’s DS2 album, while also following the release of Vic’s recent collaboration with Skrillex, titled “No Chill“.
This isn’t your typical rap cover where you’d expect an artist to slap a new coat of paint on a rehashed beat and simply call it a “freestyle.” Instead, we find Vic channeling his inner rockstar as he opens up about the struggles of flying too close to the sun (a la Icarus) on his rise to stardom and how he copes with the new pressures. The angsty, guitar driven backdrop sets the stage perfectly for Vic to experiment in a way like never before, while also allowing longtime collaborators Stefan Ponce and Papi Beatz to show off some of their range from a production standpoint as well.
Vic is currently preparing to release his Roc Nation debut, Traffic, sometime later this year. The album already boasts features from heavyweights like Kanye West and Skrillex, though remaining details seem to be sparse at this point. Be on the lookout for the talented emcee in your city as he embarks on his Traffic Tour to close out the summer.