Words to live by when you’re gunnin’ for a career as a rapper. It takes a certain flare of confidence to reach the top, and even greater self-conviction to chase that dream for ten plus years.
We sat in the back of G-Eazy ’s ultra plush tour bus, complete with a spacecraft-esque, Starship Troopers meets Zenon: The Zequeal sliding door, when the Oakland emcee shared that his hustle may have reached the decade mark, but it was his self-assurance that kept him pushing.
“I always thought I was the man. I always dreamed real big. It’s kinda like a fake it ‘till you make it hustle. Like you believe in something so much until it just finally…happens.”
G told me he saw fame as “sexy.” The lifestyle, he said, an inviting combination of “touring, partying, and sipping on whiskey every night,” fueled the flame toward success. However, he maintained that his admiration for music’s creative conception is what sparked the initial intrigue.
“I have the most fun when I’m in the studio working. I just fell in love with music, and I was like I don’t want to do anything else. So, we gotta find a way to make this work and make a living out of it.”
Whether this meant passing out his own show flyers or charging $1,800 to his credit card for music videos like that of “Runaround Sue,” G was determined to find success. “That shit was a hit! And I was like this shit better work,” he shook his head and let out half of a laugh, reminiscing over the chance he took on close to two grand.
“Is that pad thai here yet?” he yelled out to the front of his six-wheeled mobile hotel.
I’d say that the risk paid off.
We were parked outside Santa Ana’s legendary music venue, the Observatory, where G was gearing up to headline the So-Cal leg of his “From the Bay to the Universe” tour. Joining the Oakland rapper for the 31-city trek were fellow Bay Area natives Jay-Ant, IAMSU!, and E-40. Now, I spent a hefty portion of my life in the Bay, and thusly feel slightly credible when I say the following: If you were raised alongside the Hyphy movement in a city like Oaktown, like G-Eazy was, touring with 40, aka The Ambassador of the Bay, might seem like some alternate and virtually impossible reality. So, naturally, I had to clarify a few things.
Me: Let me get this straight, he’s opening for you?
Me: And, how’s that dynamic?
G: Aye, real shit, it’s an honor. It’s a blessing. It’s crazy. But he’s a tough act to follow every night. ‘Cause the thing is, he kills it! He’s just got so many hits! Like, I’m new! I don’t got hits like that. He’s got a catalog that goes back. You know what I mean?
No lie, Uncle 40 Water’s set left the crowd with a semi-permanent thizz face for a good 30 minutes—just in time for the ringing of “G-Eazy! G-Eazy!” to wake us all up from the hyphy-induced coma. It was almost time for G’s big stage reveal, and, from the press pit, the anticipation was palpable. In between the eager and, at times, overtly suggestive chants behind me, I remembered something he told me back in the spaceship tour bus:
“Don’t let your girlfriend kick it with no rappers.”
Not bad advice, coming from a hip-hop heartthrob. And, if this crowd was any representation of his fan base, I could astutely conclude that the majority of his devotees are young women (I’d say between the ages of 17-23)—an observation easily attributed to his cool James Dean comb over and sleek, monochromatic 1960s steez. He calls it his “uniform.”
“I just like wearing black. Some days I try to switch it up. But, I hate picking out clothes. And it’s easy when I just literally wear the same thing everyday.”
With a recognizably token look—whether it be pre-meditated or simply a lucky consequence of indifference—G-Eazy has mastered the art of branding himself, most notably on the Internet. With over 200,000 followers on Soundcloud, 320,000 followers on Twitter, and nearly 400,000 followers on Instagram, G makes his Internet presence and social media image a priority.
But the web represents more than just a way to convey his “sexy” lifestyle, it is the catalyst that shot him from hustling CD’s on the popular East Bay street, Telegraph Avenue, straight into the public eye.
“I mean, let’s put it like this, when I was coming up, I used to stand outside with a backpack of CD’s and try to slang ‘em to people walking by. On a good day, I might slang like 25 of ‘em. On a bad day, I might sell two or three. And it’s not a lot of people. On the Internet, I’m getting like 400,000 plays a day on Spotify right now. And you reach more people at once. It was just a more effective hustle.”
Even in the wake of G-Eazy’s escalating successes–including his first solo album, entitled These Things Happen, selling over 100,000 copies, a debut spot on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop and Top Rap Albums Charts at #1, and the #3 position on both the Billboard 200 and Top Digital Albums Chart–I reckoned there were still a few “pinch-me” moments left in his career.
“The thing is, I’m just getting started. I’m just a brand new artist to most people. I’ve only got one album to most people. I mean I haven’t gone platinum yet. I haven’t toured arenas yet. There’s so much work to be done. And it’s important to just keep a perspective so you stay hungry instead of getting comfortable. Even though this bus is pretty comfortable. We got the comfy vibes going on in here.”
For more information on how to get G-Eazy’s debut solo project, These Things Happen, and From to The Bay to the Universe tour dates, check here.