G-Eazy: "From the Bay to the Universe"

Arts  /  by Victoria Cruz '18  /  September 23, 2016

Gerald Gillum, or G-Eazy, is the cheeky, sleek rapper from the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s clear G-Eazy started from the bottom and now he’s, well, here, in the midst of VMA performances, star-studded collaborations, and sold-out world tours. G-Eazy admits “hip-hop is very much a fake-it-till-you-make-it kind of genre and culture. I can't act as broke as I actually am, I have to portray this image of a winner who's killing it.” In an interview regarding his early rap days, G told Rolling Stone, “I would print out covers and burn CDs and sell them out of my backpack. Five bucks. On a successful day I sold like 20 of them. I was pretty good at hustling people.” But after 10 years of utter dedication to the stories living within his music, G-Eazy blew up. However, lately, long time fans have wondered if Young Gerald from the Bay is selling out and losing himself in the process?

G-Eazy’s minimalist essence and sound have become his means of telling the story of a champion. His sleek aesthetic that lives in the frames of music videos such as “Order More” presents a sense of dedication for his audience. In the past, Gerald has labeled his music as a concoction of ‘50s culture with rap. He explained to HipHopDX that he is “all about pulling together totally different styles of music, different genres, different cultures, and combining the two. So you have this idea of this late ‘50s early ‘60s kinda culture blended with contemporary rap. To me, it creates an interesting juxtaposition that I’ve kinda built my whole shit around.” And let’s not forget G’s carefully cultivated image: the black leather jacket, or the occasional varsity jacket reserved specifically for spicing up the monochromatic ’fit, and the slicked back hair, all there to strategically hide the somewhat boyish sentiment and lanky frame of the rapper.

Nobody is questioning G’s ability to incorporate his trademark look into mainstream rap, but rather if he can produce chart toppers while conserving his sound without compromising his identity as an artist. In his sophomore album, “When It’s Dark Out,” Gerald hits us with tracks like “Random” and “You Got Me,” letting us know he is here to dominate the rap industry, but there isn’t much past that. Yet he did manage to bring forth a tremendously personal track titled “Everything Will Be OK” describing some chilling events during his childhood, including abandoning his father for a new life, his mother’s illness, and his mother’s partner’s drug overdose. The track opens a clear scar and rare side of Gerald. Yet not many are familiar with this G-Eazy. Most know one who performs the hit “Me, Myself & I,” simply going through the motions of a meaningless performance. He is disconnected from his audience; in turn, long-time fans feel disconnected from him. He was recently featured on Britney Spears’s single, “Make Me….” This may seem like a big break to most, yet listeners aren’t provided with the true taste of G’s saucy flow in 44 seconds of bars of a song he frankly doesn’t belong in. It’s clear: Cookie cutter pop does not compliment his brooding style.

Oftentimes, we find ourselves discussing the “swag” that a rapper possess, but in G-Eazy’s case we throw that swag ideal out the window. He brings swagger to the rap scene, working tirelessly to craft his brand. In 2014, a few years before he skyrocketed onto the A-list stratosphere, G admitted, “I have an addictive personality and fame is the most addictive drug.” He explained, “I want to be a f***ing DiCaprio of this shit. I don’t want to be a small-time independent successful rapper. The ultimate challenge to that equation is finding a way to play the game but by my rules. To bring my music without dumbing myself down and making bubblegum pop in exchange for becoming famous. I want to bring my world to the major leagues.” Two years, three sold-out tours, and two million Instagram followers later, G-Eazy struggles to conserve his identity as Young Gerald From the Bay. Problematic? Yep. So as a long time fan, G, I suggest you get back to “Monica Lewinsky,” “Tumblr Girls,” and “Lady Killers.”