G-Eazy: The Rise to the Top of the Rap Game

Whether you’ve heard about him yet or not, 25 year old Oakland, CA native Gerald Earl Gillum, better known by his stage name G-Eazy
From Local Artist to International Star: An Interview with Hip-Hop's Rising Sensation

Whether you’ve heard about him yet or not, 25 year old Oakland, CA native Gerald Earl Gillum, better known by his stage name G-Eazy, is making his presence felt in the rap game. He’s been crafting his skills since his early teen years when it was all about making mix-tapes to fill up a backpack. 

From Local Artist to International Star: An Interview with Hip-Hop's Rising Sensation

Then he studied music industry business in college to gain knowledge that he could apply to his career. He gained recognition after the success of his sophomore album Must Be Nice (2012) peaked at #3 on iTunes Hip Hop Chart & #10 on Billboard Heatseekers Chart. This attention sparked sold out 40+ city nationwide tours opening for the likes of Lil Wayne and Drake and hitting festivals like America’s Most Wanted in 2013 with 2 Chainz, T.I. and Hit-Boy.

G-Eazy: The Rise to the Top of the Rap Game

Flash forward to the present where right here in Philly G-Eazy hit the main stage back to back days at Wired Fest and The Roots Picnic this past weekend. I sat down with him backstage at Wired Fest, just after he rocked a high energy crowd at the Festival Pier. Then we both watched Iggy Izalea put in work – if you will, and also saw Diplo take the stage. We talked his journey thus far in the music business – just ahead of his latest album release These Things Happen – dropping June 23rd, and checked in to learn about the man who calls himself the “James Dean of Rap.”

G-EazybyDNLWDN-5 two.one.five: Talk about the process for you developing from first a local artist, to now becoming a nationwide, and even an international figure.

G-Eazy: Growing up in the Bay Area, our own culture and our own scene and our own music, was everything to me. E-40 was a bigger deal than Jay-Z. That’s how much the local scene meant to me, and how much it influenced and inspired my music when I first started rapping and putting out mix-tapes. What happened was, I left home in 2007 for college when I graduated high school. I wanted to stay home but I was pushed to take this chance and leave for New Orleans where I had this opportunity because I had a good scholarship to study Music Business. Going out there really opened my eyes to the rest of the world and that’s where I really put the business side to the creative side of the music. After I graduated is when I hit the ground running and really started to get serious about everything. I took my show on the road and started touring non-stop and taking the music to the next level.

G-Eazy: The Rise to the Top of the Rap Game

two.one.five: After college did you go back to the Bay Area and start your career?

G-Eazy: No, I mean I started my music career when I was like 14 years old, on Myspace, with a backpack full of mix-tapes just slanging them wherever I could. That’s where it all began, and I took that, everything I had grown up doing and creating, to New Orleans and I just kept keepin’ on. Just kept working on the music and really studying the marketing, and the business and the entrepreneurial side of things. And once school was done, I spent a year straight on the road, and then I had to move back to the Bay Area because I missed that energy and that culture. And now here we are.

At this point, Diplo drops into his set…

G-Eazy: “Aahhhhh I’m missing my favorite song!!”

two.one.five: You wanna go see it?!

G-Eazy: Yea! Let’s take a break… we’ll continue the interview in a few minutes.

I didn’t want to miss the set either. So about 35 minutes later… after watching from backstage we linked back up and continued.

two.one.five: So you’re out here with all these artists.. like tonight: Iggy Izalea, Diplo, Calvin Harris, obviously you are a fan..

G-Eazy: Yea, I’ve been a fan of Diplo, and a lot of the people I meet, for a long time.

two.one.five: What’s that like for you? Are you star struck, or right off the bat are you just focused, all about your business?

G-Eazy: Well it’s both. Sometimes when you meet these people, on one hand you’re like, “You’re who I’m inspired by, you’re who I look up to.” On the other hand you’re like, “I wanna be in the same kind of shoes that you’re in.” That’s how I’ve always seen myself. Some of me is star-struck, some of me feels like I’m looking at a peer. They’re another person who sees the world the same way I do, who already did it. Yea, so it’s inspiring.

two.one.five: Ambition, and wanting success is such a prevalent theme in your music, and in hip-hop culture in general. Especially on tracks like Must Be Nice. So now, is it nice?!

G-Eazy: Nawwwww man, I’m not there yet.

two.one.five: But life is good?

G-Eazy: Life is getting good. I’ve got a apartment that is paid for with rap money. It’s good. It’s amazing. It’s a blessing. I wake up every day and appreciate how much of a blessing this is getting to do this. But like the shit I was talking about in those songs… the ambition is so much more. I didn’t get into this game to come this far. So it is important to always stay humble, and always stay grounded, and stay focused, and maintain that same ambition you had when you had nothing.

G-Eazy: The Rise to the Top of the Rap Game

two.one.five: So you still have that?

G-Eazy: I’m hungry as fuck! I want to get it all man. I want be an icon. That’s what I got in this for. I’m hungry.

two.one.five: We gotta talk about the lifestyle you portray in your music. Did your lifestyle lead to the music, or did the music feed into the lifestyle?

G-Eazy: I’ve always been this character. As stuff has started to take off, everything combines and everything gets crazier. It’s definitely a wild lifestyle.

two.one.five: Where are some of the places you were blown away by? Where do you say, “I’ve gotta go back there” ?

G-Eazy: Man… Minnesota shows some of the most love. I was there on my birthday, a week ago. We flew in the day before, I was playing at the Sound Set Festival. I played the show, Sway was hosting, somebody I’ve idolized my whole life, he’s from Oakland. He introduces me. I play the show and they go crazy. After the show I do a meet and greet. And I’m wondering, “Is anyone gonna be there?” It’s at a separate tent. I didn’t say anything about it. I didn’t even know I was doing it. I go to the meet and greet and there’s an infinity line. I’m there for two hours. I was taking pictures, signing titties, everything you know. And the line never gets shorter! It just never ceases to amaze me that people appreciate the shit that I’m doing. Cuz this was all just a dream. So I trip out when I see that.

two.one.five: So to get to this point now, where you’ve got iTunes and Spotify featuring you. What was your approach where you can leverage everything in your favor? Talk to some people who are trying to figure it out.

G-Eazy: It’s just about being genuine, and making the music that’s inside of you. And continuing to create, and stay hungry, and stay humble. I’m doing the same shit I was doing when I was 15 slanging mix-tapes. It’s just the music has gotten better, and the brand has gotten stronger, and the strategy has gotten better. I’m still doing what’s inside of me. You’ve just got to stay true to yourself and create.

two.one.five: You play both roles of the producer and the performer. Are you comfortable doing both?

G-Eazy: Hell yea. I’m a Gemini, so there’s two people in me. Straight up. There’s the nerd who is totally zoned out in the studio, EQ-ing this kick drum, raising this snare one decibel, or swapping this high hat out for another. Then there’s the other side who’s a performer. I have to go out on stage and be electric, a fire cracker, just run around the stage and give a show. When I’m on the road I slip back and forth between both of them. Cuz I’ll put on the show, and then after the show sometimes I’ll get into studio mode on the back of the bus. We have a studio set up and just work.

G-Eazy: The Rise to the Top of the Rap Game

two.one.five: So you can put out new tracks, and stay current..

G-Eazy: Yea, I mean you have to. Cuz I’ll be out on the road for two months. If I didn’t make a single song in those two months, I’m slippin’. You can’t just party every night…

two.one.five: You’re wrapping up a North American tour. Next you’re heading to Europe for 4 stops. What’s next, what’s the game-plan for G-Eazy?

G-Eazy: Everything right now is just leading up to the release. This has been so many years in the making that who knows what it’s gonna do. And, whatever it does defines what the next year of my life is gonna be like. For now, I’m on the campaign trail… I’m trying to be the President of the United States! Just going state to state, city to city, campaigning, trying to sell a million records.

30 June 2021, 09:30 | Views: 349

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