In conversation with G-Eazy: The Bay Area’s James Dean

G-Eazy just exudes confidence. From humble beginnings in Oakland, California, the self proclaimed “rap game James Dean” is making his name known in hip-hop with the release of his latest album When It’s Dark Out, following on from his 2014 debut release These Things Happen, which peaked at Number 3 on the Billboard Top 200. Working his way to the forefront of hip-hop with a slew of underground mixtapes, G-Eazy is firmly rooted amongst the upper echelons, and that trend looks set to continue.

Much is the norm for the modern day hip-hop artist, G-Eazy has forged his own style, releasing a collaboration with renowned streetwear label Rare Panther. Rated amongst GQ’s ‘Top 10 Most Stylish‘ at New York Fashion Week, there’s no question that G takes his James Dean moniker very seriously.

A hit with the ladies, and a hit with the charts, we spoke with the Bay Area’s latest sensation about working with legends of West Coast, the Grammy’s, and partying with some of the new generation of rappers.

You rep the bay area so openly in your music, what does it mean to look at the tracklist of your new album and see legends such as Too $hort, E-40 and Keyshia Cole? 

It’s a dream come true. These are people that I look up to, you know? I mean to have them involved in my project, to get their support, that means a lot to me.

Tell me about the process of getting in the studio with some of these legends?

It’s hard to make it all line up sometimes, but it was really fun working with Too $hort in the studio, that was an experience I’ll remember forever. Everyone’s got their own process, their own methods, how they write, how they work. The dopest thing about it all…the dopest thing about working with Too $hort was witnessing him do that in person, you know what I mean? You’re so familiar with his voice, but then when you hear it back in the studio while he’s recording it, and you hear him say “BIATCH!” actually in front of you and in person, you’re just like “Wow I just saw Too $hort say that with my own eyes.”

Your first week sales of the new album are seemingly blowing a lot of other rappers out of the water, surely that’s due to the relationship that you’ve garnered with your fans?

My music is really honest, it’s really open. So the fans feel like they know me in a sense, because the music is so transparent, and a lot of them have kind of grown with me, the ones who have been on board for a number of years now who have been supporting me from project to project to project they’ve seen the growth and been there with me. They feel like they’re a part of it, and they are.

From your last project to this current release, it seems like you’re aiming for a more multi-faceted and dynamic sound, although the honesty is still there, but was that a natural progression for you as an artist?

It was definitely a progression from the last album. I guess it really picked up from where we left off in a sense, but I think with any project, its important to push things forward, to evolve, to grow as an artist and take a turn.

2015 has been a massive year in hip-hop, with plenty of newcomers, what have been some of your highlights of the year as a rap fan?

It’s been an incredible year, almost everyone dropped this year. There’s some really, really, really incredible projects, from Rae Sremmurd [SremmLife] to Ty Dolla $ign [Free TC], to Vince Staples [Summertime ’06], to Future [DS2], to Goldlink [And After That, We Didn’t Talk], Drake and Future [What a Time to Be Alive], to Drake [If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late], there’s been a lot man, it’s been dope. Travi$ Scott‘s album was dope too.

We’ve seen some solid hip-hop recognition with the Grammy announcements, are the accolades something you strive for as an artist?

I mean everyone’s got values dude, some people value selling a lot of records, some people value shifting the culture, some people value accolades and awards, I’ve never really thought of an award as the benchmark for success necessarily, because at the end of the day, music is subjective. It’s not necessarily a sport, so you can’t have the Olympics of music, especially nowadays when everything is so genre-bending anyway, it’s tough to put five nominees within one genre and put them up against each other, it’s not like you can tell who ran the fastest or who jumped the highest. It’s just creative bodies of work.

I guess if you’re making music with the intention of winning an award it might detract from the honesty that’s so evident in your music?

Yeah, yeah, you’ve just got to do what makes you happy and follow your heart and find motivation in whatever it is that you value.

Lotta That was hands down my favourite track last album, and One of them (feat. Big Seanis giving me the same vibes all over again, what’s the goal when you jump on a track with Sean?

The goal is just to snap. Sean’s one of my favourite artists, one of my favourite rappers, he can rap his ass off, so you know when you’re gonna trade verses with him, you’ve gotta go your hardest.

That’s gotta be a good thing right, you want to be on tracks with people that are making you push the boundaries of what you’re doing?

Yeah, absolutely, but there’s a time and a place. Some aspects of hip-hop are competitive, it is similar to a sport, but then there’s other records…Like you’re not trying to compete with someone on an introspective record, or a song about a girl, or a record where you’re just telling a story.

When you sit down and think about what you want to accomplish in 2016, what can we expect?

Well we start to tour the top of the year, literally, the first show is January 6th, so I’m just looking forward to travelling the world man, and getting that experience, seeing different countries, meeting the fans, and taking all that home with me.

You’re touring with A$AP Ferg, so I have to ask…who struggles to keep up with who during a night out partying?

*Laughs* I think we’re a pretty even match, we partied together in New York the other night, for the album release party, and it was a ragefest. I think I tapped out at like 5?

When it’s Dark Out is available now, make sure you cop it!

You can also catch G-Eazy down under this March:

Sydney: 3rd March 2016 @ The Metro Theatre

Melbourne: 1st March 2016 @ Max Watts Melbourne

Brisbane: 4th March 2016 @ The Met

Perth: 5th March 2016 @ Villa Nightclub