G-Eazy Talks ‘When It’s Dark Out’ Album, Success as an Outsider and the Bay Area Mount Rushmore [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
The Bay Area has a storied lineage of rap legends that have placed their unique stamp on the rap game over the years. Too $hort and E-40 kicked open the door throughout the '80s and the '90s, blazing a trail for a slew of artists to follow and continue to put on for northern Cali. G-Eazy is the latest hot prospect from the home of the Raiders and the Niners who's primed to put the Bay on his back and make a little history of his own.
Emerging in 2011 with his mixtape, The Endless Summer, G-Eazy has been quite the hustler for the better part of a decade, though he's still a relative newcomer to many. Hitting the road at a relentless place in between crafting three full-length albums may seem like the formula for a household name, but the 26-year-old rapper is far from even scratching the surface of his potential star status. He credits his busy schedule to a dedicated fan base that is constantly growing and has no signs of dwindling anytime soon.
A big reason for that premonition is the rapper's 2014 release, These Things Happen, which displayed G-Eazy's knack for songwriting and earned him a top three showing on the Billboard 200. The album also proved he's an artist with enough juice to move the needle, selling nearly 200,000 copies to date with a fraction of the promotion of other artists with similar numbers. But while the past has been very good to him, the future is looking even brighter with his forthcoming album, When It's Dark Out, set to touch down on Dec. 4, and an avalanche of momentum behind him.
G-Eazy sits down with The Boombox to talk about the Bay, paying his dues and why he feels his new album will put him in elite territory.
The Boombox: You recently announced that your sophomore album, When It's Dark Out, will be coming out on Dec. 4. What inspired the title?
G-Eazy: It's midnight music. I live like a vampire. The music is created in the night and inspired by the night. Everybody sees the world a little differently when it's dark out.
What can fans look forward to as far as guest features on the album?
We didn't really think about features 'til the 11th hour, man. I just really went in myself and just locked myself in the studio for six months and just tried to make a great album. We weren't really concerned with like, "Oh, we gotta have so and so on here, I gotta have so and so." At the very end we were like, "Hmm, I wonder who I could have on this one." Like, I called up Too $hort, he jumped on it. We had Keyshia Cole, Kehlani.
So you kept it all Bay Area, huh?
Yeah, pretty much. We got E-40 on it, too.
I've heard you mention living in Berkeley and living in Oakland in past interviews, but which would you consider your stomping grounds?
I grew up back and forth. My grandma's house is in Berkeley and I lived there when I was a kid. Me, my mom and my brother all shared a room at my grandma's house. And when we moved out and got our own place, it was in Oakland. So Oakland is always home.
Listen to G-Eazy's "Me, Myself & I" Feat. Bebe Rexha
Oakland is known as a pretty rough neighborhood and is predominantly African-American. Did you ever have any problems fitting in and if so, how did you handle it?
Of course, man. I've been an outsider my whole life. I've never really fit in anywhere I went and that's just something you live with and you grow with. It's always people that wanna test you or pull your card or whatever. You grow up and you stand on your own two feet and you find your way. I got suspended a bunch of times [laughs], but, it's like, you can't let people punk you.
You moved to New Orleans to attend college. Was that a culture shock for you?
It was definitely like a culture shock but the thing is, New Orleans and the Bay have their similarities.
Yeah, I've read of people like Master P living in the Bay and heading back to New Orleans and others relocating there over the years as well.
Yeah, they've always had history and they've always had a connection, but also in the sense that, like, the Bay is a very unique place and it's kind of like an island of culture. It's not like L.A., it's not like the rest of California, The Bay is the Bay, a strange place that's special. And then New Orleans is not like the rest of Louisiana. It's very eccentric, it's very cultural, it's very rich in music and it's it's own place. It's full of weirdos just like the Bay is and I think that may be one of the connections or similarities. It's just that they're [both] very cultural places.
What would you say are the biggest differences between girls on the West Coast and in the South?
Accents and what you can get away [laughs]. Girls are girls, around the world, dude, from London to France to New York to New Orleans to the Bay.
What would you say was one of the toughest periods of your life so far?
Growing up with just my mom and little bro. Not coming from money and trying to create something out of nothing. I fell in love with music at a young age and that's all I really cared about and happened to get the plane off the ground somehow and just being dedicated to a craft for 11 years, coming home everyday and just making beats and just recording. Like, me and the homies would just go to my house after school everyday and just work all night in the studio and swing mixtapes.
I used to go and cop stacks of blanks CDs and sit there and burn copies of my mixtapes and print up my own mixtape covers and post up in downtown Oakland and Telegraph in Berkeley and literally was selling my mixtapes for five bucks, hand-to-hand. Trying to get heard, man, and looking at everybody that's on and being jealous of the opportunities people had or the platforms they had and being eager to one day have an audience and a platform so it's like, I never took this s--- for granted. And to this moment right now, it took so long to get here to finally have this moment and have this audience to release an album and have people waiting on it. It's crazy.
Which producers did you work with for When It's Dark Out?
Southside, he did a couple. We worked in Atlanta. Remo, who did "I Mean It," we did another one, and Boi-1da and Christoph Andersson, he's like my right hand.
Watch G-Eazy's "I Mean It" Video
Are there any artists that you wanted to work with on this album that you didn't?
I mean, Drake or Kanye would've been a dream come true.
Why those two in particular?
Those are my idols. Musically, that's who I look up to.
What's one song from When It's Dark Out that you can't wait for listeners to hear?
"Everything Will Be Okay," that's the one produced by Remo. That's the one that's gonna surprise people because it's the opposite of "I Mean It."
If you had to place a bet on this album putting you up there with the Drakes, Macklemores and Kendrick Lamars, would you do it?
Absolutely, because this is all that I've dreamed of, man. I just feel like the last album put me in the game, but now it's like alright, you made it to the league, now you're a player, but I wanna get noticed, you know what I mean. I wanna put numbers on the board. And the thing that everybody doesn't get is that it just doesn't happen. It doesn't just fall out of the air and land on your lap; the only way to get it is to get it and put the work in. I literally lived in the studio for six months, like, we were in there everyday. It was just sleep, wake up, get food and go to the studio. Leave at five in the morning, sleep, get food and go to the studio, that was it.
Caucasian artists have caught a considerable amount of backlash from the rap media these past few years. How do you go about handling your business as an artist while avoiding that controversy?
I think the most important thing is to be yourself and be genuine and don't try to tell anybody else's story but your own. And if it comes from a genuine place, I think people can tell and if it doesn't, I think people can tell and I think that eventually it shows.
If you had to make a Mount Rushmore for Bay Area rap, who would be on it?
I mean, you have Mac Dre, E-40, Too $hort. But that fourth spot is tough, man, I don't know. [Laughs] I wanna be up there, but I have a long way to go, but [I'll go with] The Jacka.
You're known for having a great sense of style, but what do you look back at as the worst fashion phase you ever went through?
It's just crazy to look back at what I was wearing in high school. The baggy ass Girbauds, the f---ing, like, 5X tall-tees, looking like a giraffe with the other tall-tee underneath it and have the other color poking out. And the matching laces on my Air Forces. Man, we went through some ugly s---.
Is there any situation that you look back on in your music career that you wish you would've handled differently?
I don't know, man. I don't really live with regrets like that. We put our all into the last album and it showed. That album spent like a year on the charts with no radio. That's what's so crazy. It's like, If you look at anybody else that's touring like me, they all have more presence at radio or TV or mainstream media, it's like, I'm still kind of like an underground, cultural thing. I think that's an assessment of the quality of music or something, you know. That word of mouth can stick around that long and people are still finding out about the music and still going out buying the album.
Watch G-Eazy's "You Got Me" Video
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