G-Eazy (1)

Oh Well

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. 

Eazy Performing

TMN: Before we begin, welcome to Chicago. I wanted to start things off by asking how it feels to not just be performing at Lollapalooza but also headlining as well.

G-Eazy: It’s tough to describe the way this feels. I mean this journey has been incredibly long and what we’re doing right now seemed a million miles away forever. Even the idea of being on a bill at Lollapalooza seemed farfetched a year or two ago, but we just always stuck to it. I don’t know, I mean it’s tough to kind of like take in what’s going on right now. You have to enjoy the moment, because at the end of the day I’ll be on stage for an hour tomorrow. It’s just an hour of time on this planet. That hour happens and it’s gone. And then it’s over. So you just enjoy it and literally leave everything you have on that stage for that hour because it’s only an hour and after it passes it’s passed. It’s a moment you’ll never get back so you just enjoy it.

TMN: We recently watched a piece you did called The Pri$e of Fame where you discuss some of the expectations of celebrity vs. the reality. Talk to us a little bit about the behind the scenes stuff that the average fan might overlook and also what motivates you to push yourself further.

G-Eazy: Behind the scenes, we were in the studio until 5 AM last night. Woke up, caught a morning flight to Montreal, got picked up and drove straight to the (Osheaga) festival, got on stage, got off stage, drove straight to the airport–with no breaks in between–flew right here, landed, I have not eaten yet. I get here, put my bags down, I eat my first meal of the day while in an interview. As soon as we’re done with this interview and dinner, go on stage and play the second show of the day, then wake up tomorrow and close out a stage at Lollapalooza…it’s a beautiful job.

TMN: There’s a grind to it…

G-Eazy: There’s definitely a grind to it, but I feel blessed to be busy. I’d much rather be busy than be bored and broke. You just gotta appreciate that because not everybody gets these opportunities, so you just make the most of them.

TMN: Your debut album These Things Happen was pretty well received overall. One of the biggest challenges any artist faces is overcoming any sort of sophomore slump after expectations and stakes are raised for them. How far are along are you with your next project, and how do you plan to top your previous album?

G-Eazy: I just flat out refuse to be defeated by that. I totally agree, the most treacherous, most deadly obstacle in any rapper’s career is the sophomore album. But that inspires me, instead of being afraid of that, or even entertaining the idea of being defeated by that is just a challenge to overcome. And, we’ve locked ourselves in the studio the last 6 months and I’m over 50 songs in. Now the hardest part is narrowing it down to the tracklist and finishing the ones I like because I’m so meticulous about detail of sound and production and mixing that it can be tough to finish things because I can tweak and tinker forever and you gotta know when to walk away.

EAZY Live Performing

TMN: Building off of that, your sound has changed quite a bit since your earlier days but your music still remains very personal. Talk to use about the importance of experimenting with your music while continuing to stay true to yourself.

G-Eazy: Man, you just said it.

I think within any genre or creative medium, it’s important to push yourself creatively and take risks so that you’re not just doing the same thing over and over again. Safe is boring. I don’t think anybody wants to hear the same album from any artist 10 times. It’s like reheating the same soup, so you just gotta take risks.

TMN: The Bay Area has experienced a sort of revival since the days of Mac Dre, Andre Nickatina, Hieroglyphics, Souls of Mischief, etc. What do you think makes the Bay Area’s hip hop flavor so unique and how have those earlier pioneers influenced you?

G-Eazy: We’re an island, both culturally and geographically. We’re just different from everyone and there’s a separation. We’re a 6 hour drive from L.A. We’re our own thing. I grew up in the hyphy movement. My heroes when I was in high school were, Mac Dre, E-40, Keak da Sneak, Too $hort…so, that’s what I grew up under, that’s what I was inspired by, so that when I came of age and I had my turn it’s like that influence will always remain.

TMN: Being a fan of guys like E-40 and Too $hort, how does it feel to now have the ability to collaborate with them?

G-Eazy: I mean, it’ s a dream come true. That means more to me than anything in the world is to get to share a song with E-40. I mean, you can’t even put that in words. The first time I heard my hero’s voice on a song of mine was completely surreal. It didn’t even feel real man.

TMN: You recorded a song recently called “Champions” with Kehlani, Lil B & IAMSU and we were curious to hear how you think the Warriors embody the Bay Area spirit in your eyes.

G-Eazy: We’re underdogs. That’s something about being from The Bay is that we have this chip on our shoulder. When you think of like the biggest rappers in the world, or the most popular regions, then you think New York, Atlanta, Chicago, L.A., New Orleans, but The Bay kind of gets overlooked sometimes. But so much of the slang and the culture originated there and we don’t get all the credit for it, so we’ve always had this chip on our shoulder of feeling like underdogs and having something to prove. And then the Warriors can relate to that. It’s like my whole life they sucked (laughs). They were losing forever. It’s an exciting time.

Eazy Selfie

All image credit goes to David Miller and Mad Lab Photography. We’d like to thank G-Eazy for taking the time to sit down with us in the middle of his hectic schedule. 

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