This weekend, I had a chance to do an interview with talented young rapper G-Eazy for Earmilk. G-Eazy's latest release, The Endless Summer, is a unique hip-hop album that hearkens back to the 50s and 60s with doo-wop samples that make for a collection of infectious summer music that you can carry right into fall if you aren't quite ready to let go of the sunshine.
In my interview with G-Eazy, he talks about his influences, his interactions with his fans, the state of music today, and how the Internet has affected the music world on the artist side of things.
Tell us a little bit about what you do. Who are some of your biggest influences?
I make beats, I write raps, I record songs, I mix them, I master them, I design artwork for them, and then I send them to sites like you guys and hope the world likes them. I've been really passionate about making music ever since the 9th grade or so, and I'm lucky that people care to listen to the stuff I make. I've always listed Kanye as one of my biggest inspirations – it's becoming a bit cliché but he's truly one of the greats of our time period. Early on I really respected the way he did it all himself. My issue with a lot of rappers who just rap is that their craft is really half-assed. Rap is already one of the easiest genres of music to record. So I respect people that are heavily involved in the whole creative process.
Is there anything that influences your music that we might not expect?
Well both of my parents are visual artists. My Mom's a photographer/printmaker and taught at the San Francisco Art Institute. And my Dad's a sculptor and teaches at Fresno State. So both of them would take me to museums and galleries while I was growing up. They would listen to The Beatles, The Kinks, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. But see I grew up in the Berkeley public school system, so while I was at school, or with my friends in the neighborhood, I was surrounded by hip-hop culture. So I had these two totally different worlds that influenced how I grew up.
The nostalgic stuff that you sampled in your latest album definitely gives it a unique feel – what gave you the idea to use those samples?
Well the late 50s/early 60s are a fascinating time period in my opinion. I really enjoy a lot of the music and film from that era, and I think the culture was just really cool. Maybe it's a byproduct of kinda romanticizing the era my parents grew up in or whatever. But I feel like times were simpler back then. I also feel like that's a time period that's retained this sort of eternal cool. Like for instance, James Dean has never not looked cool, you know? And that's kind of what I want to do with my music, create something that will last.
What's really exciting to you in the music world right now?
Unfortunately, I can't say much of anything… I mean, well, let me take that back. Nothing on the major label level, anyway. I think it's exciting to see young DIY artists coming up on the internet through hard work and perseverance. I think the whole blogosphere thing has created a really cool and relevant platform for a lot of indie artists to get exposure. But on a major level, music is pretty boring and repetitive right now.
Download: G-Eazy – Acting Up ft. Devon Baldwin
Have you done a lot of live shows? How are those? If you haven't yet, do you have anything in store?
Yeah, I've been performing live for about 4 years now. It's been a great learning experience. I've done a couple DIY tours on my own, and I've opened for some big name acts like Drake and Wayne on their tours as well, so I've seen all different sides of touring and live shows. I'm really into building my live show because it's really one of the only revenue streams we have left in music – so that's something I put a lot of thought into.
Any good live show stories? Or perhaps bad shows with a happy twist?
The best part of touring is seeing pockets of kids in random small towns who love my music and know the words. That's the craziest thing I've ever experienced. The worst, is having to juggle touring with school. For instance – I was on the Drake tour, and I got an email from one of my teachers saying if I missed another class I would fail the course, so we literally had to leave the tour and drive 24 hours back to New Orleans. It was a bummer.
How have you been distributing your music? I noticed your latest album is available free on your website – how has the Internet helped you to gain popularity?
I just give it all away for free. I find it reaches more people that way. I understand that this new business model scares some people, including the major labels, but that's because they haven't quite figured out how to adapt yet. They're just gonna have to figure it all out, and rework the business model. Basing your business around a dead commodity isn't gonna work. That doesn't mean the music industry is dead. It's doing fine. But our generation has become completely accustomed to acquiring our music for free. So you've gotta focus on the stuff you can't download, like live shows and merch.
What's the most amusing interaction you've had with a fan, online or off?
Haha. I'm not sure if this is safe to write or not. Let me think of another story… All right so there's this one show, it's early I just finished soundchecking so I went to the bar to get a drink. There's a group of kids that got there super early, and they keep looking over and whispering and stuff. I check my twitter and they twitpic'd a picture of me at the bar. So I walk up into their group and introduce myself, and this one girl almost fainted. She told me she drove like 4 hours to come to the show, and that seeing me live was the last thing on her bucket list before she went off and joined the army. Shit was inspiring.
Download: G-Eazy – Runaround Sue ft. Greg Banks
If someone was new to your music (like many of our readers may be), what would you personally give to them as an introduction?
Good question. I'd probably give them the "Runaround Sue" video. It's a weird era we live in, where there's just so many people releasing music, so it can be really hard to cut through the noise. More so, you have to figure out how to summarize the essence of your brand and fit it all into one song and video. It's like fishing, and that's the only way to successfully lure people in these days. I think "Runaround Sue" depicts my style and who I am as an artist in a pretty clear and concise way.
What are you enjoying in pop culture other than music right now? (Books, TV, and the like)
I don't know how "pop culture" he is, but I'm enjoying everything I read by Malcolm Gladwell. I don't really get to watch much TV these days. When I do, it's Netflix and I'm watching old 90s cartoons so I guess that's not really current pop culture.
What are you working on right now?
We're working on the treatments for my next couple of videos right now. And then within the next week or two I'm sure I'll be back at work on my next mixtape.
Anything else you'd like to share with Earmilk's readers?
Swag! Jk… If you like what you hear then tell a friend to tell a friend to help spread the good word.