ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN The Huntington News, March 27, 2014
By Sara Tucker, News Staff
With a national tour, collaborations with artists like Hoodie Allen, Skizzy Mars and E-40 and an upcoming album, rapper G-Eazy is garnering a great deal of attention on the indie rap scene. The Oakland, Calif. native and Loyola University New Orleans graduate boasts a sound somewhere between Macklemore and Bob Dylan, and is touring the US promoting his new album. The up-and-comer stopped in Boston this past weekend for a sold-out show at the Paradise Rock Club. Before the show, G called in from Grand Rapids, Mich. to talk with The News about his success and his plans for the future.
The Huntington News: Tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start?
G-Eazy: When I was little, well first off, both my parents are artists, they both teach in college and they both kind of grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s. They raised me on a lot of The Beatles and Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash and s*** like that. So when I was a little kid, that’s what was playing in the house. And in the neighborhood and at school with all my friends and stuff, hip-hop was the culture and everything that I was drawn to. So when I was like 13 is when I started making beats and started to write songs and stuff. I just, I don’t know, I just fell in love with it really quickly and what started as kind of, you know, ‘this is fun: to make beats’ quickly turned into an obsessive passion where I wanted to, you know … actually release music. It all started with Myspace back then, you know, because that was brand new and you could make music at home, upload it online and share it with friends. But I would also design mixtape covers and actually print up CDs and sling it out of my backpack at school.
HN: Where do you think, primarily, your inspiration comes from?
GE: I would say a lot of it is driven by first-hand experience, just my accounts and … stuff I’ve seen. And it’s an interesting factor now, at this age and at this stage in my career getting to travel so much and meet so many people and see so many places and just soak up inspiration and see so many different cultures and places and stuff because I’m traveling on the road so much.
HN: How has your independence as an artist affected your career?
GE: Well I mean I’m really involved in everything related to my brand, whether it’s merch[andise] or the music or how frequently we release music and promotions and music videos and, you know, every aspect of it. It’s something I value: having a say in everything. Just things true to who I am and what the brand is about and everything. So that’s kind of like the fundamental, the core values I believe in. So that’s why, you know, we do things on our own, is because we get to do things our way.
HN: What is your brand?
GE: I mean, I don’t know, I think the music tells the story of what that’s about. It’s inspired by this classic, retro, mid-century kind of feel, but, you know, it’s like we’ve taken that, pushed that in a new direction. So it’s like soaking up these influences from, you know, this classic look and this classic sound, and then contrasting that with contemporary influences as well. So there’s some classic, you know, golden boy fan thing, and there’s also like a f*** you, edgy, dressed in all black, rebelling angle to it as well.
HN: Tell me a little bit about your collaborations with other artists.
GE: I just did a song with E-40. I’m really, really excited about that. He jumped on my song, it’s called ‘Far Alone,’ from my new album, and I mean for me that’s like a huge deal. Growing up in the Bay, I idolized E-40 my whole life and being able to do a song with him… It’s just, I mean, collaborating is fun. You know, when you write a song, you listen to the music and you know, you intuitively try to figure out how to approach the song lyrically and then when you collaborate, you get to see how somebody else would approach that same song, from their perspective.
HN: Can you give me an example?
GE: I mean, like E-40. You know, I hear the beat and this is how I would flow on it, but E-40, he’s got a completely different style. So just getting to see how E-40 approached that song and all, you know? It’s fun.
HN: How’s the tour going?
GE: The tour’s amazing. Almost everything’s been sold out. It’s just been … it’s inspiring to see the fans come out and show so much love even though the album’s not out yet. I’m just excited for the future and for what’s to come when we do put the new record out.
HN: Do you have plans to sign with someone or to start your own label? What are your plans from here?
GE: Well, businesses outgrow themselves eventually, you know. You try to keep it mom and pop forever, and it’ll just fill up the whole room and it’ll explode. A business needs room to grow. But what’s important to me is, like I said, being able to keep creative control and stay true to who I am.
HN: What’s your favorite place that you’ve performed so far on your tour?
GE: Portland was crazy. Denver, Salt Lake, Seattle, the show at home in the Bay, in San Francisco, was awesome. L.A., obviously everywhere in SoCal, it’s all been crazy. It’s been a wild ride.
HN: If you could perform anywhere, where would it be?
GE: I mean I would say Madison Square Garden because it’s such an obviously iconic venue, but also somewhere like the Oracle Arena at home in Oakland.
HN: Besides rap and hip-hop, what do you listen to?
GE: The classics. I listen to Johnny Cash all the time and The Beatles, stuff like that.
HN: What did you think about Macklemore winning Best Rap Album over Kendrick Lamar?
GE: Hmm, how do you politically answer that question? I mean any time you see somebody go from the Internet like [Macklemore] did to, you know, f***in’ four Grammys, that’s inspiring as f***. You know, kudos to that. His rise was incredible and super, super inspiring. Now whether or not it was the best rap album of that year, that’s a different conversation. But then again, it’s the Grammys.
HN: Where do you see the music industry going in the future?
GE: I think there’s something about the physical album, you know, and people like to collect things and it’s always a piece of merch[andise]. So I think there will always be a place for physical albums, but I think, in the big picture, obviously streaming is the future and where things are going.
HN: Can you tell me a little bit about your college experience?
GE: I just stayed in and just made beats and just worked on music every day. I wasn’t even … I didn’t party that much. I didn’t go out a whole lot or anything. I didn’t do a lot of homework either, just worked on music 24/7. I figured out how to do enough to get by and keep my scholarship, and I just, you know, spent every other minute I had working on music.
HN: Do you have any advice for young rappers who are trying to emulate your success?
GE: Just stay true to yourself and just work hard. At the end of the day, it’s just like playing an instrument or learning how to draw or paint. It takes a long time to work on your craft, and to, you know, to do that. So if you put the hours in, you know, just let it happen.