Article By: Max Rothstein.
Cover Image: Bobby Bruderle
Oakland native, Gerald Gillium, better known by stage name, G-Eazy, has never been a stranger to the Billboard charts since the release of his debut album and commercial blockbuster, These Things Happen. His debut charted as high as the third spot on the Billboard 200 and spent 138 weeks on it. So it was no surprise that his latest album, The Beautiful & Damned, once again appeared at the same spot as his debut project. His newest work stories quite similarly to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1922 novel of the same name. The Beautiful & Damned is far darker than These Things Happen and focuses more on the hardships of being a celebrity and his dangerous coping mechanisms for dealing with the pressure.
The opening title track captures the album’s tone best, discussing how he is now dependant on toxic substances and how his celebrity has allowed him easy access to these dangers over a dark, haunting beat. Zoe Nash’s echoed vocals start the narrative of G-Eazy’s helpless narrative. Throughout the album, G-Eazy uses his zodiac sign, Gemini, to describe the conflicting sides of himself. While he does struggle with split personality disorder, his gemini references can also be looked at as his battle with addiction with one side being his inebriated self, and the second being his sober self, trying to escape the demonic side his celebrity has fueled so much that it’s almost taken him over entirely. G-Eazy’s Gemini is quite similar to Kendrick Lamar’s “Lucy” references. In an interview with Sway, he discusses how being easily exposed to all kinds of drugs and alcohol has transformed him from a casual user to someone who is dependant on these substances in order to do his work. He has fallen to these demons like many artists before him and feels he is only heading down a worse path, “When I die, not trying to see hell, Feel like I'm headed that way in a V12.” He further paints this picture on the following track, “Pray For Me” as well as on “The Plan” and “Pick Me Up.”
Through the hardships of celebrity, G-Eazy feels lucky to have someone in his life who is loyal and going through the same things he is, which he discusses on the most popular song on the project, “Him & I.” A passionate yet dangerous romance, G-Eazy first compares it to speeding along the Pacific Coast Highway, a 656 mile stretch of highway covering most of the coast of California symbolizing how he sees their relationship lasting a long time, and then later compares their commitment to one another to that of the notorious star-crossed lovers Bonnie and Clyde. The latter is a common reference in hip-hop that’s been used by the likes of Tupac and Jay-Z.
On “Summer in December” he voices his struggles of his Hollywood lifestyle. While those from the outside can’t see what can be difficult about living in Los Angeles, “The girls are pretty, the sun will shine 360 days,” G-Eazy counters that it’s easy to forget who you are after getting caught up in the luxurious lifestyle of a high profile musician. It gets to the point where he can’t recognize who is staring back at him in the mirror and wonders what life would be like if he didn’t become famous, “In another universe I coulda’ had a stroller and a car seat.” This is often common among celebrities struggling to handle their fame. A similar idea is brought up in an episode of the award-winning TV series, Bojack Horseman. On a drug binge, Bojack hallucinates an alternative life where he raised a family with a former friend of his before sobering up and returning to his alcohol-crutched lifestyle. At the time of writing this, G-Eazy was 27 and cleverly references the 27 Club, a list of popular musicians who died at the age of 27 mostly from drug-related or depression based deaths.
G-Eazy’s Beautiful and Damned paints the idea that even though the life of celebrity may seem glorious, many who live it struggle to remember who they were before and become riddled with drug abuse. While his beats stay prevalent in quality of those earlier in his career, G-Eazy’s lyricism has evolved as he confesses that the life he once dreamed of is not what he thought it would be.