If Monday night's show at the Observatory is any indication of what's to come, then fans who are heading to Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Sunday for Lil Wayne's America's Most Wanted Festival, they better braves the traffic and get there early. Why? G-Eazy, that's why. Born Gerald Gillum, the Bay Area-based rapper is one of the most ambitious up-and-comers. The self-proclaimed James Dean of hip-hop, G-Eazy blends the East Bay's progressive rap with a sense of showmanship crafted in his collegiate hometown of New Orleans. We caught up with the rapper as he was working his way westward and he enlightened us on his past, present and future.
What's so different between headlining a club show and opening for Lil Wayne at an amphitheatre show?
The biggest difference is the crowds. If I'm headlining, it's my fans who are there to see me and know all the music. The energy is crazy, especially when there's a thousand kids who know all the words. When I'm opening up for Wayne, it's like I may play for 10,000 people at an amphitheatre, but I'm on super early and it's empty and they don't know who I am. They are two different experiences. When I headline, when I walk out on stage it's crazy. When I open for Wayne, I walk out and they don't know who I am. It's humbling and it makes you work harder for everything you do.
How did growing up in the Bay Area, with its progressive hip-hop that fuses different genres, influence your sound?
When I was growing up, that was what I was inspired by. Mac Dre was everyone's favorite rapper. That is what influence all of my early beats.
What other music did you listen to besides hip-hop?
My mom is a huge Beatles fan. So whenever I was at home, she would play her favorite music from the '60s.
Which Beatles era are you more partisan towards: the early poppier stuff or the trippy psychedelic material?
The weirder trippy stuff for sure. It was definitely more progressive.
Who is your favorite Beatle?
Going to college in New Orleans must have been an interesting education for you musically.
Yeah, for sure. All of this is factored into who I am now. New Orleans was a nice change of pace. When I got down there, I realized how different the Bay Area music was and how progressive it was and was something we took pride in. When I got to New Orleans, everything was completely different.
What was it like opening up for the New Orleans legends while you were still at Loyola?
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It was dope. I was going to school at the time and when I would do the shows, it would be a crazy experience and when I'd go to school the next day, it would feel like a regular kid again. It was exciting but I always thought about the big picture. Whenever I'd get excited, I'd remind myself that I was still just an opening act and that I wanted to be a headliner. When I'd go back to school the next day, it would keep things in perspective.
What's the rest of the year looking like?
We've spent this whole summer on the tour bus and then it's time to really get going on the new album. I'm still working on it and not sure when it will be ready. I think the new sound is different and more mature.