G-Eazy tears through setlist at sold-out Altar Bar show

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G-Eazy tears through setlist at sold-out Altar Bar show

By Sheldon Satenstein /Assistant Visual Editor

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Dressed in black from head to toe with his signature slicked-back hair, rapper G-Eazy put a local twist on the wardrobe that has given him the nickname “The James Dean of Hip-Hop” by donning a Pirates jersey on top of his sharp attire. Born Gerald Earl Gillum in Oakland, Calif., the 24-year-old G-Eazy wasn’t much older than most of the sold-out crowd in the Altar Bar on Saturday evening.

A neon sign with his name flickered on as G-Eazy took the stage and launched into “Far Alone” alongside cheers from the crowd that only got louder when he followed up with the enormously popular “Lady Killers.”

The majority of the night’s setlist was derived from G-Eazy’s two most popular projects, the sample-heavy mixtape The Endless Summer and 2012’s Must Be Nice. The juxtaposition of the two projects provided an insightful glimpse into G-Eazy’s growth as an artist. Sampled tracks such as “Endless Summer” and his breakout single “Runaround Sue” — sourced from Dion’s chart-topping 1961 pop song of the same name — riled up the crowd, but their energy didn’t waver when he moved on to performances of his own productions, such as “Marilyn.” At numerous points throughout the show, the rapper accepted cell phones that were thrust his way, snapping a quick selfie on stage before handing the phone back to its owner.

Not one for living in the past, the Bay Area native also teased his forthcoming album, These Things Happen, playing several unreleased songs. Despite not yet knowing the lyrics, the crowd didn’t pass up the opportunity to continue showing their enthusiasm for G-Eazy’s new material. The rapper also brought out several of the opening acts — Tory Lanez and Maybach Music Group’s Rockie Fresh — for an exclusive remix of his track “Been On.” By the time black and white balloons rained down from the rafters during “Almost Famous,” the shouts of the audience had escalated even further, but they didn’t peak until the show closed with a raucous rendition of “Loaded.”

As the beat gradually faded out, G-Eazy bowed respectfully, illuminated only by the neon sign adorned with his moniker and the shouts of encouragement from the audience. Before taking his leave, he addressed the Pittsburgh audience one last time, expressing his gratitude for their support as he had already done numerous times throughout his performance.

Before the show, The Pitt News had to opportunity to sit down with Gillum and discuss his own college experience, his music and touring with Lil Wayne.

The Pitt News: You experienced some moderate success making music during your teenage years and sharing it online via sites such as Myspace. What made you decide to go to college instead of breaking directly into the music industry?

Gerald Gillum: Well, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to stay in Oakland, be a rapper, but it was my mom who really pushed me and said, “No, the hell you’re not. You’re going to go to school and try and get a degree. You have this window right now.” I also had a really good scholarship to go to Loyola University in New Orleans, and so my mom really put her foot down and told me, “This is what you’re doing.” Obviously, in retrospect, I’m very appreciative of that. I think leaving home and getting to live in another city, and the whole college experience in general, broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to a lot of different stuff.

TPN: What advice can you give college students that might find themselves in a similar situation as you, pursuing a degree in the arts instead of an arguably more stable field such as business or engineering?

GG: Biggest thing I can say is hustle. Go hard. Work every single day at getting your plane off the ground, because it takes a long time in the creative arts to get something going. A lot of people kind of feel like, ‘I’m going to wait through college and then when I graduate I’ll figure out what I’m going to do.’ No. You’ve got to get that ball rolling while you’re in school, so when you graduate it’s already going. You need to take advantage of the time you have and work hard.

TPN: You’ve had the opportunity to open for some big names in the past — Lil Wayne, Drake, Snoop Dogg — what impact did you feel like those experiences had on you?

GG: I just get inspired every time I watch them perform. I try to learn everything I can. Everything from a Lil Wayne, to a T.I., to a Snoop, to a Drake, these are people that have done it for a long time at a very high level, and you don’t get there by accident. You get there by being really f*cking good at whatever you do. There’s always something you can learn from them.

TPN: Listening to your music, there’s a notable difference in production between your mixtape The Endless Summer and your most recent release, Must Be Nice. Was it a conscious choice on your part to move away from the brand of sample-heavy rap?

GG: Yeah. It’s totally fun sampling stuff and taking a song from one world and bringing it to a completely different world, and I think there’s something really dope in that juxtaposition there. But ultimately, back to what I was just talking about with getting my plane off the ground by the time I finished school — you’ve got to make money. You’ve got to pay your rent. When I was doing the sampling stuff, it was all free music because you can’t sell that. I didn’t have the money to clear the samples so we gave all the music away for free and hoped we didn’t get sued. It’s fun to sample and remix stuff, but I knew I needed to be able to make songs from scratch and make original music so that I could own it and sell it.

TPN: How does your forthcoming album, These Things Happen, demonstrate that growth?

GG: Oh man. If you thought there was a step between The Endless Summer and Must Be Nice, this is like a quantum leap, but that’s where we set the bar. I knew I couldn’t get by just releasing the same album again, and we had to set the bar higher to really break through. I’m really excited about this one. This is on a whole other level. I can’t wait to put it out.

TPN: As you approach the end of the These Things Happen tour, what do you think you’ll remember most fondly about the experience?

GG: The New York f*cking Times man. The Times reviewed my show in New York on the front page of the Arts section, and that’s been the biggest moment — ever. My mom called me crying. She reads the Times every day. The magnitude of the Times writing a good review of your show is insane.

TPN: It’s clear that you’re having a lot of success right now, but sometimes complacency can set in when that happens. What do you plan on doing to keep yourself motivated to improve your craft?

GG: My whole team, we’re all really hard on each other. It’s almost like a football coach type of mentality. We all really enjoy what’s going on right now, and we celebrate and enjoy that, but at the same time we push each other to be great and challenge each other. It’s all about the process, refining everything and the attitude to not be complacent. Keeping desire to always want to work hard and deliver something that matters. G-

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