G-Eazy talks fame, music & finding your own voice

Zayn Abidin, Staff Writer

Dressed in all black with a sleek retro look reminiscent of a 1950s Hollywood movie star, G–Eazy, aka Gerald Gillum, A’11, entered the green room post his speaking engagement in Nunemaker Auditorium. The visit to Loyola was like a homecoming for the rapper, who received his undergraduate degree from Loyola’s Music Industry Studies program in 2011. At the forum, G-Eazy spoke to the students about his decade long struggle and subsequent ascent in the realm of music. He encouraged them to find their own identity and pursue their dreams with an undeterred resolve.

G-Eazy is suited to talk about pursuing dreams with an unyielding determination considering he had to constantly grapple with the waves of ups and downs, more downs than ups, for almost 12 years before gaining prominence in the music stratosphere.

From producing his own songs and selling his mix tapes for a few bucks to performing in front of sometimes hard-to-please crowds, G-Eazy did it all in an effort to get to where he is today, which is at the forefront of the Hip-Hop scene.

The Bay area native rapper was also in town for a stop at the Orpheum Theater as part of his sold out North American tour, “When It’s Dark Out,” titled after his sophomore album. The record topped the Billboard’s R&B Hip-Hop chart and Top Rap albums chart simultaneously upon its release in December, a feat he was also able to achieve with his debut album, These Things Happen, back in June 2014.

These are just a couple of accolades in his long list of achievements, which includes being the third most streamed artist in the U.S., and sixth globally, on Spotify. Both of his albums managed to debut in the Top 5 of Billboard’s Top 200 album chart. Throughout his rise to fame, G-Eazy was able to amass a huge core fan base and tour diligently for years now.

Despite his impressive credentials and recent surge in popularity, G-Eazy, stayed humble, evident by the way he graciously met everyone in the green room. The 26-year-old patiently took pictures with fans and a few members of the Loyola staff before the interview.

How does it feel to be back at your alma mater and connecting with the students?

“It’s definitely tight to comeback, it was even weird just walking around campus like, that I was spending so much time here but you know how different life has been for the past two or three years, because I was still living in New Orleans after I graduated for a while. It meant a lot to me to come back and to talk to the students because there’s no ‘how-to manual’ necessarily, you know what I mean? You just gotta figure it out, trial and error. We had a lot of errors and a lot of trials, so any kind of game that I can give back, you know I always want to help out.”

Loyola University and New Orleans have both played a pretty big part in your life and career. Can you tell me how they have inspired you and paved the way for you as an artist?

“My experience and time here played a big part in shaping me into what I am now. Just being in the scene down here and the friends I met, playing shows and learning the ropes. I met a whole lot of local rappers because I used to engineer for them. I had my studio in my room ever since the day I moved out here. And also just by working with different people and meeting new people, then the word spread, like “Yo, there’s this kid G-Eazy and he’s got a studio, he makes beats.”

Can you go back to the time when you were playing at coffee shops and bars? What was that time like? I mean, were you always sure that you were going to make it?

“It’s all step by step. I always had the confidence to say that I want to be the biggest thing in the world, but when you’re playing at a coffee shop, how do you really feel like that? It’s like, okay, I want to get out of this small room. One night we played the Howlin’ Wolf. In the Den, it was like the small room next door, it was 100 people, and it was like ‘man, I want to go play the big room next.’ You just set goals and work your way up.”

Now you’re selling out arenas, topping the Billboard charts and have a huge core fan base. Do you think you’ve accomplished everything that you set out to accomplish? Or do you think you have a lot more to do?

“You’ll always have more to go and accomplish. I just think that’s the difference between being a creative vs. being an athlete. The athletes are limited by their bodies, they deteriorate and age. But as a creative, you’ll always want to create and want to keep going.”

I want to talk to you about fame. They say it’s like a drug and it can mess people up once they get it. So, is it what you thought it would be when you were not famous?

“It’s definitely a duality, when it comes to fame. There’s the rush, there’s the high, the parties and the attention and then there’s the darker side; you lose your privacy and your space. You’re still a human being; you’re not a super hero. But people view you like that and expect things from you; there’s so much pressure and you’re always under scrutiny and a spotlight at all times. But then again, I’m getting paid to do something I love. I got my friends with me. I send my money to my mom every month and that feels incredible.”

You have a very distinct style. It’s very retro and suave. Do you have any style inspirations?

“My style inspirations are James Dean and Johnny Cash. I like the 50s and 60s, Americana, rockabilly look. I’ve always liked leather jackets, ever since I was a kid but I could never afford one back then, you know? And I also like wearing black; it’s very simple and clean.”

As a white emcee, sometimes it can be a little difficult to be accepted into the hip hop community at large. Do you feel like you’ve been accepted?

“Yes, I do. It’s crazy being in circles now, being on people’s radars. I meet artists that I’m a fan of and they show love back, you know it’s mutual.”

Lastly, you have a lot of young fans. Do you have a message for those who are in a position right now, where you were a few years ago, trying to get to where you are today?

“Yeah, just stick with it and be sick with it.”