Talking with Bay Area rapper G-Eazy

Outside the Brick and Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco on Sunday night, the streets went wild with the news of the Giants’ World Series win. Inside, the energy (and the crowd) was just as high when Bay Area-born rapper and producer, G-Eazy, stopped by as part of his nationwide “Plastic Dreams” tour. G (whose real name is Gerald Earl Gillum) has opened for Drake and played for the 2012 Warped Tour, but his most notable claim to fame is his remix of the 1961 hit, “Runaround Sue.” Before hitting the stage, the effortlessly cool G-Eazy sat down with the Daily Cal to talk about his latest independent album, Must Be Nice, his sound and coming home to the Bay Area.

G-Eazy on his onstage persona: One of the best things about being a musician is that you get to create this caricature, for better or for worse, and, you know, there’s definitely a disconnect there. G-Eazy is separate from who Gerald is as a person, and it at times gets tough to balance the two. I mean, at the end of the day, when I write songs, they come from an honest place. I’m telling stories that reflect stuff I’ve been through personally or stuff I’ve seen. So they’re really not all that far apart, but there definitely is a place for me to be me as a person and a place for me to step in and be G-Eazy, you know, and play that role.

On samples: The past record I did, The Endless Summer, was kind of like a concept album. It was strictly focused on sampling and remixing all these old ‘50s pop songs. After that project, I felt like it was time for me to take a step forward as an artist. It was time for me to grow as a producer and a songwriter, and do it all from scratch. My recent album, Must Be Nice, I produced without the use of samples. It was still kind of going for that same vintage ’50s pop sound, you know, but instead I recorded all the parts from scratch, doing it all originally. That’s how I’m working these days.

On his vintage style: I just think it’s an era that has this eternal sense of cool that never goes away. James Dean never goes out of style. He’s never not cool, you know what I’m saying? The same thing goes with the music. All those melodies and all that sound just last forever.

On his live show: New Orleans definitely influenced my live show. It’s a city that really appreciates live music, and that was something that was new for me. They’re really big on brass bands, so I would go to these shows, and I would watch the brass bands play, and they had such crowd control. They knew how to work the crowd, and the energy was so hype. That inspired me. This sounds stupid, but I really want to get good at playing live shows. A lot of artists, in hip hop specifically, put on kind of boring shows. We want to make the live show an experience that you walk away from saying, ‘Man, that was super turned up. That was live as fuck.’ We spend a lot of time thinking about the dynamics of our show and how to build energy up and bring it down just to build it up again.

On giving away his music for free: That’s just the times we live in. We’ve all been trained and conditioned to believe that music is just a free product these days. I mean, Napster came out, what? Like ten years ago? We were in fifth or sixth grade when that came out, so the last time I had to go to the record store to buy something, it was like, Eminem’s first CD or something like that. You have this whole generation of kids that grew up never having to buy music, and that’s just how they’re conditioned. You have to move with the times.

On what’s next: The next step is music. It all starts with content. I’m looking forward to finally get off tour and getting back in the studio and just writing. (Writing on the road) is tough.  At this stage, everyone helps out and does a million jobs, so during the day I’m always doing other stuff, just helping out. Eventually we’ll get to the level where I have my own tour bus with a studio in it, and I get to just fucking chill all day long while everyone takes care of shit, and I can just write.

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