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DOPENESS INTERACTIVE / G-Eazy : These Things Happen (Album Review) / 0%

G-Eazy : These Things Happen (Album Review)

Written by 3 minutes, 47 seconds Read

ARTIST

G-Eazy

ALBUM NAME

These Things Happen

LABEL

Sony

DOPENESS RATING

7.5

ARTIST

G-Eazy

ALBUM NAME

These Things Happen

LABEL

Sony

DOPENESS RATING

7.5

In Macklemore’s wake, there’s a hardened consensus that hip-hop is whiter, the old patterns of cultural co-option well underway. G-Eazy slid easily into this old new world, building an organic, devoted fanbase without the explicit mass support of hip-hop’s original audiences. This isn’t a strike against the quality of G-Eazy’s work; his new album is well-crafted and considered. He seems unafraid to wrestle with mature ideas—about himself, or the sobering realization that living a dream is no exemption from life’s daily indignities. While one does get the feeling that there’s a better album somewhere inside of him, These Things Happen shows promise. If Macklemore is the first white rapper to find mainstream success with a mainly caucasian audience, G-Eazy will be the first to do so without relying on a dated notion of hip-hop’s sound. But ultimately These Things Happen’s strongest statement concerns the seismic impact of the artists who influenced its creation.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that G-Eazy hails from Oakland—although, he went to school in Albany, California, according to this early interview, which is closer to Berkeley. But regardless of the specifics, Bay Area hip-hop is historically a diverse ecosystem, so it makes sense as the first frontier for middle class-appealing white rappers to express themselves in a way that scans authentically. With a fertile independent scene largely cut off from hip-hop at large, the Bay was one place where regional stars were popular across cultural boundaries, with white kids as familiar with Mac Dre as Jay Z.

So it was with G-Eazy, whose early work shows the evident influence from the Bay’s cultural blender. His lyrics on These Things Happen include references to growing up on Mac Dre and the hyphy movement, and the album features appearances from E-40 and Bay producer Jay Ant. But outside of guest spots and textural references, the Bay Area influence feels absent G-Eazy’s current music, never mind the Oldies revivalist single that sparked his rise. Instead, the record is consistently moody and atmospheric, with a chilly downtempo ambiance less reminiscent of E-40 than Drake’s producer of a similar name.

This is not a record of hits, and there are no real pop moments. It’s solemn, sincere, and deliberate, seemingly more influenced by self-serious auteurs like Kendrick Lamar than G-Eazy’s hometown heroes. It’s not the only place Kendrick’s influence looms; the way G-Eazy’s voice dips in “Opportunity Cost” is a deadringer for his delivery, and “Downtown Love”’s moralizing comes complete with a hammy chorus that would have fit comfortably alongside similar records on Section.80. “I Mean It”, meanwhile, suggests Big Sean may have had a bigger influence on millennial rap fans than has generally been acknowledged. Even the appearance of his mother’s voicemail at the end of “Opportunity Cost” can’t help but recall Chance the Rapper’s dad’s cameo on Acid Rap.

Perhaps most distracting is a song like “Tumblr Girls”, where a Dom Kennedy flow can’t save him from Drake’s blurry, neurotic solipsism. Here his writing is at its most cliched. He drinks with a beautiful nameless woman who’ll soon be forgotten, a story that borders on parody in 2014. All in all, These Things Happen’s sonic fingerprint feels like an unconscious echo of meteoric impact of post-Kanye rap stars of the past five or so years.

This is, after all, the sound of “respectable” sustainability: perhaps a bit of a flatline, These Things Happen is at its best when it twists the lens onto G-Eazy’s more personal writing. Although his fanbase was built on a grind that included the Vans Warped Tour and accompanying frat rapper Hoodie Allen, his immersion in hip-hop’s artistic language is real. His actual rap style is somewhat plain, but not distractingly so, and—”Tumblr Girls”-records aside—his writing is often purposeful. He’s started to emerge as a distinct voice: humble yet confident, the record is at its strongest when he’s taking stock of his rapidly shifting world and finding his place within it. On the album’s opener and title track, security stops him from going backstage, embarrassing the rapper: “Wait up, who the fuck are you?” These moments of humanity—the album’s best writing, that is—are only here in pieces, and to release a truly great project, he will either have to explore them in more depth, or start having a little more fun.

Written by David Drake of pitchfork.com

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