Whether it's girls with winged eyeliner and beehives or guys in Letterman jackets and Ray-Ban shades, we're all hungry for 1950s and '60s nostalgia. And up and coming hip-hop artist G-Eazy is providing us with just that. With his greaser "T-Bird" style and regular use of doo-wop samples, it comes as no surprise that G-Eazy is turning heads rather quickly.
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The Oakland born, New Orleans-based rapper has seen considerable success in a short amount of time opening for such acts as Drake, Lil Wayne, and A$AP Rocky. Now, at the ripe age of 23, he's kicking off 2013 with his first headlining tour in support of the recently released album, Must Be Nice.
In a phone interview, rapper G-Eazy spoke to New Times about musical influences, giving away music for free, and seeing success at 23.
New Times: How do you think growing up in Oakland influenced you musically?
G-Eazy: Well, when I was growing it was during the whole "hyphy" movement, so Mac Dre was everyone's favorite rapper. That was a big early influence on my music because that was the culture that I grew up in. That was the sound that I was most influenced by.
You've been known to sample doo-wop songs, what prompted you to choose that genre over another?
Well the thing about most doo-wop records is the rhythm to them, and their tempos sync up perfectly with contemporary rap, if you just half time the drums. So it was really just something that clicked in my head when I was listening to a lot of old records. I knew I could flip these and turn them into rap songs because you don't have to speed them up or slow them down. You just half time the drums, throw 808s under them, and it's a match made in heaven. It was just something that clicked. Plus, I always liked the melodies.
Did you grow up on those records?
Yeah. My mom and grandparents would play that stuff around the house and stuff when I was growing up.
What other types of music did you listen to growing up?
Specifically the Beatles when I was a little kid because that was all my mom played. That was her favorite band ever and she would play those albums for me all the time. When I got to kindergarten, or first grade, basically when I was in school and starting to hangout with friends, the music and the culture I was surrounded by was rap and hip-hop. You have this balance of when I was at home, my mom was playing Beatles records and in school it was all about about Tupac.
Do you remember what your first CD was?
My first CD... Um... I remember one of the first ones that I tried to save up and buy was Juvenile's album that came out and had "Back That Ass Up" on it. So, I saved up all my money, my allowance money, I was mowing the lawn and all that. My mom took me down to the record store, and it had the parental advisory sticker on it with the lo-fi, photoshopped babes on the front, fire, and all that. She looked at the back with the names of all the songs and said "Pick something else out." [laughs] I know [Dr. Dre's] 2001 was one of the early CDs that I bought. That ended up being a huge influence on me.
Whenever you've put out an album, you release it for free. Why the decision to do that?
That's really the era that we live in now. We have a generation of kids who are graduating college now, and pretty much grew up with Napster and Limewire. We've been kind of trained that music is something that you obtain for free, it's not a product that you pay for. That's just how we've been trained and raised.