By Randy Mastrnicola, Portraits by John Russo
I SPENT AN AFTERNOON with G-Eazy (He was born Gerald Earl Gillum.) shooting pics and shooting whatever else, learning about his vision of the future. He’s got swagger, and you know that if you’ve seen him in concert. He’s got the chops, and you know that if you’ve listened to the inherent smarts
and beauty in some of his lyrics. There are many millions of followers on his social media who will attest to that as well. He’s as real deal as it gets in the music industry—living his dream—recording, producing and touring as a major act.
G-Eazy’s been lighting up the boards since 2014 when he came into the public consciousness with his distinct brand of street and sexy rap/hip-hop. His first major album, These Things Happen, kicked off a big year. He would take off from there. In late 2015, When It’s Dark Out, blew up with the massive single Me, Myself and I. In 2017, he achieved major critical acclaim in a big way with The Beautiful and the Damned. He spent the next year of his life giving it his all on a major world tour. Multi-platinum doesn’t come easy but he’s been making it look that way for a few years now. Get to know him a bit, and you can appreciate all the blood, sweat and tears it took to get him to that point. We met up at the Stillhouse Spirits Co. corporate offices just after his Endless Summer tour concluded.
(Besides being a hip-hop artist, he’s a Partner and Co-Creative Director of a whiskey brand.)
Some people might look at your success and say, “How did he go from selling mixed tapes on Fifth Avenue in Oakland to becoming this superstar in such a short time?” Like it’s happenstance—there’s so much hard work and intent. How does that inform you, staying connected to that grassroots approach as you build your career?
I think staying in touch with your audience is one of the most important things to think about on this journey. Even though we change and evolve as people, as human beings in our experience, it’s very important to remember where you came from—to remind yourself of it. Life has turbulence from making all these dreams come true and how life changing that can be. It’s important to stay humble and to remember where it all started. That’s just one of those things because it hits to your core— when you express that identity through your work, that’s the reason why people connect with your story. You have to keep track of that identity, and never lose your own connection to it. So much of that is where you’re from and what made you.
Talk a little bit about your creative process—in terms of where your inspiration comes from. How you catch lightning in a bottle again—that creative force—how do you unleash that?
The only way to get lightning in a bottle is let it come naturally. Leave that bottle open and wait for it to come in because you can’t force it. You can’t look too hard for it. That’s not the way it’s ever worked for me. I don’t think it’s worked that way for many people. I feel like every time I do an album—I have it all on the line. You live with that pressure. Ultimately, that pressure is what drives you if you want to succeed. Gotta be open to the wonder of it all… Yes. I think, as an artist, a really important part is knowing when to listen and when to trust your gut. I’m lucky to have a really great team around me. There are times when I have to put my faith and trust in those guys. There are times when I have to follow my heart and stand up for what I believe in and make a decision. I’m the one at the front of the train.
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