ABOVE: G-EAZY. PHOTO COURTESY OF OWEN BRUCE.
Oakland born, Nola based rapper G-Eazy is attracting the right kind of attention; unsigned and straight out of college, G (as his friends call him) has already supported our friend A$AP Rocky and will be part of this year’s Vans’ Warped tour (words we have not heard since the early 2000s, but still, not bad.) There is a certain menance to G’s rap voice—you hear it in songs such as “Hang Ten” and “Well Known,” it verges on sinister in “Outta Pocket”—but G is at his best by far when he is being earnest and trades the “bitches” and “hoes” for the post-college crisis of growing up, and what exactly that means. G samples a lot of doo-wop on his mixtape Endless Summer, which he accompanies with a highly stylized late ’50s aesthetic: letterman jacket, Ray-Bans, slicked back hair. It’s an interesting choice; you often hear rappers sample soul or Motown, but doo-wop seems both rarer and more natural, especially if you listen to G describe its chord progressions. However, the song on which G shines the most, “Acting Up,” moves away from the conscious retro of “Runaround Sue” and begins with a Grizzly Bear sample. G’s next project, he says, will center less around samples and more on what he has learned from studying their composition. While we wait for what’s to come, G has kindly given us his new song “Marilyn” to premiere.
HOMETOWN: Oakland, California.
HIS NAME: It came about 10 years ago now. Times were different then. The name probably sounded cool to me when I was 13, [like G-Unit]. The climate has definitely changed since: the fashion trends, the style of music I listen to.
IF YOU ONLY LISTEN TO ONE SONG…: That’s a difficult question. The obvious choice would be to show the “Runaround Sue” video, but if I wanted people to understand who I am, I might play “Acting Up” or “Endless Summer.”
ENTERING THE RAP SCENE: I grew up in Oakland, California, and there was a really active scene in the Bay Area. Everyone else knew it as the “Hyphy Movement,” of Mac Dre, E-40, and The Pack. I was friends with [The Pack] and The Cataracts, and to see these kids that I had classes with go from setting up studios in their bedrooms, to being on MTV, was really exciting. It was around the time when the technology was first accessible you could go to Guitar Center, spend a couple hundred bucks, set up a studio in your room, connect it your Mac, and upload a song to your MySpace page. Eventually, I moved to New Orleans, which broadened my horizons a bit.
NOT DROPPING OUT OF UNIVERSITY: [I pursued music while I was in college] but there was always the hassle of balancing school with music; that lingering thing of having to worry about school and homework. It’d make touring kind of hard; I could only miss so many classes. I was definitely tempted [to drop out], we are all at some point. I just kept telling myself that ultimately, the money that my grandparents had put away to go into my college fund, that they were investing for me to go to school and get this education, it had to be worth something.
SAMPLING DOO-WOP: That style of music is not too dissimilar from pop music today. It’s pretty much the same kind of chord progressions, and it’s really within a similar tempo if you just half-time on the drums. I just saw the similarity there, and thought it would be cool to step outside the box and try something different. It was going to be an experimental project; I would do a couple songs and release a small EP in the summer. I guess it was kind of like “the perfect storm.” In the summer I had three months blocked out to just do music, and I just got really wrapped up in that project, and one thing led to another. We listen to oldies when we go on tour. Beach Boys radio was really clutch; that was definitely our favorite Pandora station. We would put it on on the road and that would get us through eight-hour drives.
GETTING BOOED OFF STAGE: I’ve been playing shows now for about three years, and I’ve gone on in front of the easiest crowds—say one word, and they go crazy and love you right away—and I’ve gone on in front of the toughest crowds that aren’t there for you, that don’t care about you. I’ve gone on in front of a crowd of 10 people and 7,000 people.
RELATIONSHIPS AND FAME: I always thought that one day I would be somebody. I would be successful in music and I would have fans that cared about my music. At the same time I really feel like an ordinary guy; I have been an ordinary guy forever. It’s a weird transition from a regular life, where you have a regular girlfriend and you [keep] to yourself, to all of a sudden [getting] all this attention that comes with music. And a lot of my songs are about me growing and how I handle that.
WHAT’S UP NEXT: I’m working on a new project right now, it’s great because I don’t have school in the way anymore so I can really focus. This time I’m not relying on the samples as a crutch, so to speak, 95 percent of it is going to be original material. [When I sampled doo-wop on Endless Summer] I would figure out the chord progression, then I would play a piano part on top of it, I would play a new bass line and add my own work to it. So what I am doing is taking what I have learned from studying these songs and sampling them to now creating my own original productions.
G-EAZY IS PLAYING THIS THURSDAY AT THE GRAMERCY THEATER. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON G-EAZY, OR TO DOWNLOAD ENDLESS SUMMER, YOU CAN VISIT HIS WEBSITE.