G-Eazy isn’t shy about being a Kobe Bryant fanboy. Before delving into the creative process and the sophomore albums he studied while crafting his second studio effort When It’s Dark Out, the tall and lanky rapper reminisces on the Laker legend.
“Man, it hurt,” says G over the phone when asked about Bryant’s recent retirement announcement. “I grew up watching Kobe Bryant. My dad was a massive Michael Jordan fan. Around the time I was becoming old enough to understand and watch basketball, Jordan was in his last few years with the Bulls. In ’97, ’98, ’99, Kobe was becoming a star and I’ve literally spent the last 20 years, watching him on TV. He’s my hero, my Batman, my idol, so it’s sad. I remember when he first tore the Achilles [tendon] and I felt it right then — basketball’s never gonna be the same again.”
Unlike Bryant, G-Eazy isn’t entering his final season but rather his second with When It’s Dark Out. The confidence can approach Kobe levels on wax, especially on the opener “Random,” where he spits, “Got it all, yeah, I am young, rich and handsome.” Ask if he’d take the title “role model,” though, and he hesitates.
“Role model” is a tricky word,” he says. “I think being a rock star is a little bit different than being an athlete or even a movie star. It’s like music is one of the only things where you’re supposed to party and get fucked up. You’re almost celebrated for how hard you party and get fucked up.”
He piggybacks off the Kobe conversation by citing a well-known Cleveland Browns football star to drive his point home. “You saw Johnny Manziel get benched for being seen in a club. New money is something fun to celebrate if you never had it,” he continues. “It’s weird but he lost his job [as starting quarterback] because of that. I would never consider myself a role model in the wide sense of the word. I mean, yeah, I’m somebody who chased the dream for over 10 years and worked really hard at achieving something I really cared a lot about, but other than that, I don’t think I’m the most responsible grown-up in the world. I don’t even think I’m a grown-up.”
Regardless of how he sees himself, the Oakland rep covers big boy topics on his second album, like his relationship with his mother to the mood swings that fit his Gemini personality. “Sometimes, I’ll feel like really down, really gloomy and there’s a record like “Sad Boy,”” he explains. “And sometimes I just feel like having fun, just making a record and talking shit.”
G-Eazy has license to shit-talk after his debut These Things Happen peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 upon its release last year. Ladies pine for the rap game’s James Dean at live shows, especially with performances of “Tumblr Girls” or the Devon Baldwin-assisted cut “Let’s Get Lost.” Still, his personal mission statement remains consistent: keep it G.
A dark cloud hangs over When It’s Dark Out. The first single, “Me Myself and I” — which features Eminem and Rihanna‘s “Monster” songwriter Bebe Rexha on vocals — is a reflective number on the perils of fame. He second-guesses his happiness on the aforementioned “Sad Boy” and reflects on his bouts of depression on the Kehlani-assisted “Everything Will Be OK.” It may seem like heavy loads to carry, but the MC says he naturally gravitates toward darker subject matter, especially when they’re true stories.
“I’ve always been intrigued by more complicated issues, more pain than just everything being so light and happy,” he said. “This album just captures the last year, two years of my life and it’s been a fucking rollercoaster full of ups and downs and craziness and a lot of wild times — some good, some bad. It’s like nothing could really prepare you for how crazy this shit gets.”
For a first-time famous guy, he consulted his rap heroes for inspiration. “I did study a lot of my favorite rappers’ second albums like how they coped with coming off a successful debut and all of a sudden, [their] whole world’s turned upside down, it’s all different,” he says, citing Kanye West’s Late Registration and Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP.
Despite the content, When It’s Dark Out dodges the sophomore slump in that G-Eazy’s studio therapy helps him cope with both the struggles and the blessings.
“You know it’s beautiful at the end of the day,” he says about life at present. “I like pinch myself almost every fuckin’ day that I get to travel around the world, hire some of my best friends, bring ‘em with me all because I enjoy what I’m doing … On the other hand, it’s like one of the craziest jobs in the world. It can get kinda taxing but you just try to keep it all in perspective and balanced.”