G-Eazy Talks Tour Life, Hip-Hop’s Struggle & ‘These Things Happen’ Album [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Anybody who’s been following G-Eazy since his ‘Runaround Sue’ days is well-aware ‘Almost Famous,’ the first single from his upcoming album, ‘These Things Happen,’ is a switch-up from his usual tempo. The 24-year-old is heard trading in his more mainstream sensibilities for a sound that’s moodier and introspective. It’s fitting for a young artist who’s very cognizant of the lengthy lows and the short-lived highs of the music business.
G-Eazy’s inward gazing doesn’t shield his likability and easygoing self-confidence. “So if you don’t f— with me / I’m OK with that,” he raps on the song. This “c’est la vie” attitude is apparent when he shows up with his crew at The Boombox offices.
At this point, G-Eazy is in town a few days before his scheduled concert at New York City’s Irving Plaza. It’s one of the final shows on his 36-stop tour. The tour has been an exhausting trip, but you’d only know that if he told you so.
That’s because work isn’t work for G-Eazy. The rapper spent his days during the latter part of the last decade barely making any money touring and struggling to maintain his audience. Now, sitting in the office, he’s joking about his publicist looking like John Mayer all the while grinning, and occasionally touching his sleek, black hair.
It’s hard to dislike how self-assured the Oakland, Calif., native is, not just because of his success, but how he achieved that success. G-Eazy’s work as an independent artist has earned him a following that includes over 141,000 Facebook likes, 143,000 Twitter followers, multiple sold-out concerts and heightened anticipation for ‘These Things Happen,’ which which arrives June 23. During his sit-down with The Boombox, the rhymer opens up about a wealth of topics including what to expect from his new LP, hip-hop’s struggle with money, being a fan boy and surreal experiences on the road.
West Coast Scene
“It’s just fun to see our area shine like that. We’ve had a few moments throughout the history of hip-hop from the mid-2000s where the hyphy movement was starting to bubble. That was when I was in high school starting to make music. It was inspiring to see local legends like E-40 and Keak da Sneak break out with ‘Tell Me When to Go.’ Now we kind of have this moment bubbling again with what’s going on in the Bay. It’s dope to be a part of.”
The Changing Music Industry
“Well, it’s definitely shifting. Everybody is on an even playing field pretty much. Again, it really comes back to the artist. It’s on you to deliver and to come through. Because the barriers of entry are so low, anybody can save up, get a mic and release music via Soundcloud, email it to the blogs and whatever. It’s on the artist to really try to make something remarkable and break through the noise and establish themselves and grow from there.
“It all comes back to content. Somebody told me that content is king and if you make great stuff, then you can eventually start to break through. It’s just a process and you’ll have to stick with it. I think if you’re constantly reinvesting into your content and giving the fans stuff, then you can continue to tour. You can continue to sell the merch and monetize the popularity of the brand.”
“I just hear a beat and start mumbling words. I just hear sounds and rhythms, and it just kind of comes intuitively. Formatting a song, figuring out a flow, how I respond to the beat. Then in terms of subject matter … It’s based on first-hand experiences. This is a wild ride I’m on now. This is an interesting chapter in my life. I’m in my early 20s, I’m traveling the world constantly. I’m meeting tons of people but I’m not getting to know that many people. It’s a crazy fun chapter, but for all the highs, there are also lows. Everything balances itself out in life, and I just try to put these experiences back into the music and capture this chapter.
“It depends what we’re working on, but if we’re writing, I just get in the zone. I put my phone on airplane mode. I have a bottle of whiskey and I just get in the zone. You work in the studio from 6PM to 6AM, you need to get this and this and this song done. Sometimes I’d just be walking and an idea would just pop into my head and I’d write that down to turn it into a song. Ideas can come out of nowhere.”
Misconceptions About Rap Life
“I guess the biggest misconception is the money in hip-hop. So many of these rappers are around with this fake jewelry and stuff and feel like it’s so important to uphold its image of, ‘I’m this millionaire who’s so successful.’ At the same time, if you really break it down and think about it, a rapper could be hot for three or four years and in that window you may make this amount of money. I always try to look at it in the long-term, big picture. If you stretch that out for your whole life, you’re living OK if you balance it now. You’re not going to be rich forever. I started this s— on my own credit card. I maxed that out. Everything we ever got, we just flipped back into it.”
“That’s where the market is. Music isn’t selling like it used to, but the one thing you can’t steal or download is a live show experience or a T-shirt. Fans do come with the bootleg merch. There’s some website where you can upload a picture and get your own s— printed, so I always call them out: ‘Check her out with the bootleg merch.’
“[On my rider], we ask for two handles of whiskey. It would be something cheap like Jim Bean. We ask for two-fifths of something nice. It would be like a Bulleit bourbon or rye. Then we get like a 24-pack of PBR [Pabst Blue Ribbon beer] … And sour candy. I got the sour Skittles, the sour straws. I really don’t f— with candy other than sour candy.”
“I try to find 15 minutes a day to just be alone without any distractions just for headspace to meditate and get my Zen on. I think that helps me get through the hecticness of the day on tour with the interviews, the sound check, the meet and greets, the show and the post-show meet and greets. There’s not much downtime, so when you have it, you got to grab it and make the most of it.
“When we were on that [Lil] Wayne tour, any off day that we had on that tour when they were taking a day to rest or whatever, we would book our own show in a market that was close by and try to pick up cash on the off days to keep our fans coming to the shows.
“Touring is a tough plane to get off the ground, and it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of investments. You open up a lot of tours making nothing just for the fact that you need to start somewhere and get some exposure. When you start to headline your tours, all the money is in headlining, but there’s no money in headlining small rooms. So we’re out there losing money and barely breaking even on tours, and nonetheless it’s still fun to be out there on the road, but then you come home from the tour and it’s like back to reality. And that’s the mindf—. You get back home and it’s like, ‘I was just the man and now I’m just a regular guy back home. I got to work my job. I have to pay my rent.’ Touring is a strange kind of world where it feels sort of surreal.’”
“I don’t feel restricted or confined. I don’t say corny s— like trying to promote stupid stuff. Twitter is just your personality. [Speaking to his publicist] You know what I think is so corny? When people put an exclamation mark and question mark: ‘Who’s coming out to the show tonight?!’ Like dude, I’m not writing that tweet. You’re so corny.”
“Me personally, I will always be a fan at the end of the day. No matter how big this gets, I still look up to other artists and people I respect creatively. You’re not gonna fan out and be a weirdo. I just did a song with E-40 and growing up in the Bay, E-40 might as well be Jay Z to me. That was a big deal. That was a moment when I kinda fanned out. When he finally sent me the verse, hearing it for the first time … for the most part, you just play it cool.”
‘These Things Happen’
“There’s definitely a creative left turn with this album. The sound and feeling have evolved musically from the last project. I think that’s necessary. No one wants to hear the same album over and over again. I think it’s important as a creative to take risks and to push yourself with each record to try new things and think outside the box.”
“Mostly working with Christoph Andersson on the production. He’s a good friend of mine’s from New Orleans and we co-produced the whole album together. Anytime you bring another cook into the kitchen, it’s mixing my world with his. It’s combining the two to make something new and different and innovative.”
“E-40 is going to be on the album version of ‘Far Alone.’ When you hear [the song ‘Lotta That’], it was just perfect for [A$AP] Ferg. I met those guys a long time ago, and we just kept in touch ever since. I saw [Ferg’s] show and talked to him there a couple of months ago. This record is so perfect for him in this type of situation that we just had to call him and be like, ‘Yo, it’s time. Let’s do it.’ He was like, ‘Yo, this song is crazy.’ It’s a banger.’”