G-Eazy on his fondness for the music of Tennis and how Steve Jobs changed everything for him

Eric Gruneisen

G-Eazy is an up and coming rapper born in Oakland but based in New Orleans. The MC, who stands out thanks to his Dapper Dan appearance, gravely voice and self-made production, broke out somewhat thanks to his Endless Summer mixtape, which featured a remix of Dion's "Runaround Sue." His independently released album from 2012, Must Be Nice, marked a huge step forward in every way. We recently spoke with G-Eazy about his love for surf rock, the darker side of partying and whether he'd rather be president or with Rihanna.

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Westword: You're pretty much completely self-made -- self-recorded, mostly self-produced, label-independent: Has that been a conscious choice of yours, or did you need to do that by necessity?

G-Eazy: Well, I think back in the day when I was first starting to make music, all I wanted to do was to get a record deal. I thought the whole idea of being signed was really sexy and attractive, and I was like, "I just want to have a major label deal and all this bullshit." And, I dunno, somewhere along the road I kind of started to figure out that maybe I could do this myself, and that kind of became the chip on my shoulder to say, "I'd rather build this myself my way and build a brand exactly how I want to do it, rather than, you know, work under somebody." So I just wanted to keep my creative control and prove to the world that I could do it.

And you majored in music business at Loyola. How has that helped?

Yeah, I think that had a lot to do with it -- just learning the ins and outs of business from my teachers -- you know, learning all about marketing and finance and how to run a business and corporate culture and all that. I also attribute a lot of it to Steve Jobs. I read the Steve Jobs book and that kind of changed everything. I've been, like, an Apple geek my whole life, and have always seen him as a hero. But reading the book, and learning about how he built the company, and maintaining that corporate culture and all that, I think that influenced me a lot.

You used to be in a group called the Bay Boys.

Haha. Oh, no.

Were the Hot Boys a source for inspiration for you?

Yeah, for sure. What's weird is the Hot Boys and the whole New Orleans Cash Money thing had a really big impact on the Bay when that was popping off. I don't all the way understand it. I mean, I know that they were big everywhere and had a lot of commercial success in the mid to late '90s, but they were really, really felt in the Bay Area. So yeah, everybody in the world wanted to put together a group of rappers, and I'm sure that played a part and kind of influenced us early on.

So do you feel that you've always sort of been destined to end up in New Orleans?

I don't know about destined, but, I mean, New Orleans has definitely been a great place for me for the last few years. You know, it's inspired me a lot, and I've learned a lot from living there. It's a fun town.

So the Endless Summer mixtape had a strong influence in surf rock, and it was also the name of a Bruce Brown surfing documentary. I was wondering if you were a surfer yourself.

Nah, I never really got into surfing because I never lived in a beach town. Maybe if I grew up in Santa Cruz, instead of Oakland, I would've gotten more into it. My dad put me on to that movie when I was a kid, and I really liked to watch it, and I remember I came back to it a couple years ago, and I watched it one day on Netflix because I remember my dad would always talk about it. And not only is it a really fucking awesome movie, but I just felt a really strong parallel between that movie and what I was trying to do as a musician.

I mean, you basically have these guys that got to travel the world and do whatever they loved to do most for a living. I was just finishing up my Senior year in college, and that's what I wanted to do with music; I wanted to wake up every day and do what I love to do, which is work on music, and I wanted to tour the world doing it. And I've never wanted to get a regular job. So, for me, leaving college and entering into this chapter of getting to make a living, having fun touring the world, it kind of felt like an endless summer, and it was a parallel that kind of clicked.

But there's also a very distinctive sound to surf rock. What do you think attracted you to that sound?

Yeah, well I also loved the soundtrack of that movie. But it's also sounds that I grew up around. My mom would always play me a lot of late-'50s, late-'60s rock. And my uncle, who we also lived with -- I lived in a big family home with my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, my mom, my little brother. My aunt and uncle were in a local surf rock band, and they were inspired by a lot of that stuff, and they would rehearse in our basement.

And when I was a kid, I'd go downstairs and I'd watch them rehearse. And I always looked up to them, so I was surrounded by a lot of that music when I was a kid. So I think that's why I always appreciated it. And, I dunno, there was some moment at some point where I realized that a lot of those rhythms weren't so different from contemporary rap if you half-time the drums -- so put those melodies and chords over top of rap drums; it just kind of clicked.

One of the samples that you used on Endless Summer is of Tennis, which is a local band.

Yeah, yeah. I love Tennis.

I was wondering why you chose that one in particular.

Well, to me, I always felt a really strong '60s pop influence in their music. It was just like a contemporary take on a classic sound. But, I dunno, I really love their music, and that was one of the songs that stood out to me as, you know, this would be really dope to remix. And I just threw it out on the Internet, and it just kinda grew legs and got popular, I guess.

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