A dashing anti-hero who stormed the pop charts with moody, intricate rhymes, G-Eazy has redefined the look and sound of hip-hop’s intersection with pop music—cutting through the bland-if-stylish blend of pop-R&B that dominated 2010 charts with focused, carefully articulated verses that are often counterbalanced by ethereal female vocalists. As a product of the Bay Area’s cultural melting pot, the Oakland MC offers cerebral wordplay over a synth-fogged haze, nostalgic samples, or lustrous R&B. But G-Eazy’s grip as an artist is in the delivery: Each syllable has purpose. Born Gerald Earl Gillum, G-Eazy didn’t so much rise to hip-hop’s top ranks as he slid in through the side door, building an organic following through a series of mixtapes before scoring a viral hit in 2011 with “Runaround Sue” (which shrewdly employs a sample of the 1961 Dion hit by the same name). That success led to several high-exposure tours—including the 2012 Vans Warped Tour and a run of shows with Hoodie Allen—and his independently released debut, Must Be Nice. The somber and self-assured 2014 record These Things Happen topped hip-hop charts and proved that G-Eazy was much more heady than a doo-wop-sampling novelty. As his popularity grew, so did the depth of his introspection, heard in the increasingly darker and textured albums When It’s Dark Out and The Beautiful & Damned. And if his focus rarely strays from contemplating the perks and pitfalls of chasing stardom, he is among the most purposeful voices in 2010s rap, telling stories with enough detail to make them hit home.
BORNMay 24, 1989