G-Eazy is a retread of Drake’s depression and Rick Ross’ obsession with hustle, only devoid of humor and from a white guy. Naturally, he’s sold millions of albums. At least Macklemore was cruising through the “Thrift Shop” instead of endlessly stacking his money.
Two years since G-Eazy’s last album and he’s back with more stacks and The Beautiful and Damned. He demonstrates only one emotional state, which we’ll call “hustling while sad.” The sadness is the sadness of VH1’s Behind the Music, the fake sadness of too many parties and drugs and groupies. As G-Eazy himself told Billboard, “The concept of it is kinda like it’s about the lifestyle … This fantasy of, like, sex, drugs, & rock ‘n’ roll is kinda clichéd, but it’s clichéd for a reason. It’s dark.”
As it happens, “dark” isn’t a word I’d use to describe the album, but “clichéd” fits just fine.
The Beautiful and Damned starts with the title track, which is about how hard life is when you’re a Gemini. Did you know G-Eazy is a Gemini? He wants you to know; he mentions it in a couple of songs. G-Eazy thinks the fact that he’s a Gemini is fascinating. The experience is like going to a party and getting trapped in a corner while some coked-up party boy monologues endlessly about his horoscope.
But he’s got problems, too. You see, G-Eazy has been partying too much. It’s gotten so bad that he’s imploring audiences to, as the second song is called, “Pray for Me”. “Talk to the man upstairs / Hoping he answer my prayers/ Hollywood feel like the jungle/ Lions and tigers and bears.” This is the hook. Half the time, we hear a bear roar. Another time he repeats the word “bears” in a tone that suggests you wouldn’t believe how bad the bears have gotten.
Sometimes he reflects on all the one-night stands, which are measured in spent condoms. He’s obsessed with condoms; he brags about shopping for them at Costco. “These women,” he complains on “Pray for Me”, “They plot and they scheming/ Do anything to get hold of my semen/ I’m flushing the rubber, you won’t get my children.” This seems to give him no small amount of satisfaction.
But his policy changes from time to time, like on “Him and I”, a listless Bonnie and Clyde number he recorded with real-life girlfriend Halsey. G-Eazy raps about loving someone so much he begins to “hit it, no rubber,” as if a possible unplanned pregnancy was as romantic as a bouquet of red roses.
There’s often a disconnect between how amazing G-Eazy thinks something is and how amazing it really is. One of the songs is about all the interesting things he says while counting his money, and the song is called, “That’s a Lot”. “Ooh, that’s a lot,” he remarks over and over again, feeling no call for variety, as if “that’s a lot” contained multitudes, as if it pretty much covered everything that could be said.
In this environment, guest verses parachute in like boxes of food for starving natural disaster victims. G-Eazy is outshined on his own songs by Kehlani, Halsey, A$AP Rocky, and Cardi B — even by human pudding Charlie Puth.
To G-Eazy’s credit, he produced many of the beats on the album. But he ruined it by refusing to call himself a producer in the album notes, instead insisting he was the “composer.” I wasn’t aware that ripping off second-tier Boi-1da beats qualified as composition.
The album is a two-disc album at a time when nobody uses discs. There’s no interruption, no welcome silence between discs one and discs two. No, just 20 songs, a brutal slog of stacks and condoms and stacks and condoms and occasionally a disembodied ass without any other parts of a woman sighted.
The last two songs bring a brief, shallow bit of introspection. On “Love Is Gone”, G-Eazy observes, “The world is in flames/ We worry about materials and the simplest things.” This critique of materialism is a bit rich, coming as it does after a 65-minute materialist orgy. He lobs a couple of wet insults at Trump and positions himself as a champion of women’s rights. His plea for gender equality might have been more welcome if he hadn’t just spent over an hour calling women bitches that should be discarded along with rubbers, and even bragging about how little his bitches weigh.
On “Eazy”, G-Eazy writes to younger versions of himself with the framing device of “Dear Gerald.” You get the idea. Dear Gerald at 14, I know you’re sad, but keep hustling. Dear 21, you’re sad because the hustling isn’t paying off. Later, the hustling pays off! The Beautiful and Damned ends with a tidy moral: “Most of ya’all should probably party less and focus more.” I found this insipid moralizing to be only the last in a long line of insufferable gestures, but maybe I only feel that way because I’m not a Gemini.