“Might not be on the radio, but this is art,” raps Oakland-born musician G-Eazy on the title track of his 2012 album Must Be Nice. Although the airwaves may be slow to catch on, G’s hard-hitting sound and laid back, dapper style have earned him massive attention online. Local hip-hop blog Thizzler on the Roof selected G as one of its Bay Area Freshmen 10 Class of 2013, while Spotify named him an artist to watch in its 2014 Spotlight.
While G-Eazy seems poised to achieve national fame, the lyrics and video for his recently released track, “Far Alone,” focus on his upbringing in the Bay Area and feature plenty of familiar Berkeley sights such as the California Theater, Top Dog and Rasputin Music.
Heading through Albuquerque on his “These Things Happen” tour, G-Eazy caught up with The Daily Californian before coming home to a sold-out show at the Fillmore in San Francisco last week.
The Daily Californian: What was the inspiration for the “Far Alone” video?
G-Eazy: I wanted to showcase the whole upbringing, you know? It was important for me to have Gordo’s in there; it was important for me to have Telegraph and Rasputin and all that.
DC: Growing up in the Bay, did you spend much time in Berkeley and at the university?
G: Yeah, my grandma lives in Berkeley and we lived there, in her house, for a few years when I was a kid. And I went to Berkeley schools my whole life. I went to John Muir and Willard and Berkeley High. I’d ride the 51 everywhere, so I’d always ride right past Cal every morning.
DC: A lot of artists have shifted their focus to releasing singles, but you still seem very committed to albums. Why is that?
G: I see the gravitational pull towards singles, in the way, and away from the concept of the album, but I still appreciate a cohesive project. Something you can listen to from start to finish and play 100 times. I still think that the album is the best representation of the artist. It’s who they are, what their sound is and what their identity is.
You can only say so much in a single … That’s why we’re working so hard on (These Things Happen), just to make sure the album makes a strong statement.
DC: Are you looking to sign with a label at any point?
G: We’re just taking everything day by day. The music is what matters the most to me — just keeping everything genuine and authentic.
DC: Are there any artists currently coming out of the Bay you’re excited about?
G: Yeah, absolutely. I mean the whole HBK movement is super crazy, they’re killin’ it right now. Obviously, Sage the Gemini and Iamsu!, P-Lo and my friend, Jay Ant. They’ve got a lot of talented people, and the way their whole collective supports each other is super dope.
DC: You’re almost like a small business. How much are you involved in each facet?
G: I’m pretty involved in almost every aspect of the business. I try to be as hands-on as possible, whether decisions are about merch design or tour routings, but I’ve got a great team around me. And that’s the biggest thing — just finding eight players and letting them do what they do best, from management to the design team to photographers to Christoph (Andersson), who I work with on the music.
DC: What’s the deal with the VIP package, where fans get their hair cut like yours?
GE: That was an idea my manager had. We see all these kids coming to the show dressed like me in all black with their hair cut similar to me. Some of the kids on Twitter always ask, “What’s your haircut called? What do you tell your barber?” We were just like, “Yo, we should just sell that to a kid.” It basically paid for itself, so we could bring a barber out to us. It was just a cool idea that kind of worked itself out.
DC: In the video for your new song, “Almost Famous,” you walk through your career in magazine cover shoots and then walk out a door. What’s on the other side?
G: That’s the ambiguous future. That’s the part of the entertainment industry where you walk out, and you’re vulnerable. You put yourself out there in the world as a musician, and you put yourself on display (laughs). I don’t know — I don’t have a cooler way to say it.
DC: When will you know you’ve made it?
G: I’ll always aspire to play arenas. If we ever make it that far, I may feel like, well, this doesn’t mean anything until we get the stadiums.
DC: What can we expect from the new album, These Things Happen?
G: A lot of it is personal, its about where we came from and where we’re going…its also telling stories about the characters and the people I’ve met or come across in the last couple of years.