The rapper goes to war with himself on his star-studded new album, 'The Beautiful & Damned,' out Friday
On his new album, The Beautiful & Damned, G-Eazy is taking on his biggest rival: G-Eazy. “To understand a Gemini/angel, devil, it’s both him and I,” he raps on the title track, the first of many songs that find the “Me, Myself & I” MC going to war against himself. But it doesn’t stop with just the music. Though his third major-label LP, out this Friday, continues to touch on the sinister side of fame that he explored on 2015’s When It’s Dark Out, the 28-year-old is also flexing his acting muscles with a companion short film that pits the man born Gerald Earl Gillum against his hip-hop alter ego in the year’s most stylish death match. Below, G-Eazy tells EW about the album’s star-studded guest list, how F. Scott Fitzgerald inspired his new music, and why he’s taking on Trump voters in a pointed new song.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This album, your third on a major label, explores the highs and lows of fame and the conflict between your public and private selves. How did you settle on those themes?
G-Eazy: It really decided itself as we were making the album. We were probably about 30 or 40 songs in and realized there were these two different themes and two different sounds. [Duality] has always been a common theme [in my work], so I figured, Why not fully go there and finish the whole concept of the album around that?
The title comes from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. What about it did you relate to?
It [was published] in the ’20s and was this time of overindulgence — going out too much, drinking too much. Ultimately [the characters] had to deal with the mess they made the night before the morning after. That’s mirroring my lifestyle: G-Eazy lives this crazy, over-the-top lifestyle without consequence, and Gerald is left to clean up his mess every morning.
The LP has a companion short film of the same name.
I’m really excited about that. It’s Gerald versus G-Eazy in this Fight Club kind of way. The character transforms back and forth between Gerald and G-Eazy, and we use my wardrobe and the color of the car I’m driving to signify when you see Gerald and when you see G-Eazy. They end up fighting each other, and one has to kill the other to gain control of my life.
This was your first time acting. What was that like?
It was amazing. It was a completely new experience, but it felt natural — I’m playing myself. [Laughs] Just being on camera and putting myself into these scenes emotionally was kind of like recording a song. To write and record, I really have to put myself [there] mentally.
The record is stacked with guests: Cardi B, A$AP Rocky, Charlie Puth, and, most notably, your girlfriend Halsey. What was it like working together?
It was super important to get her on the album. She’s incredible, and I’ve been a big fan of hers for a long time, even before she was my girlfriend. Telling a story like the one we tell on [“Him & I”] adds a level of authenticity and honesty to our love story and [explores] how love fits into this crazy lifestyle that we live.
Your frequent collaborators E-40 and Kehlani also show up. How has your working relationship with them changed over time and across multiple albums?
I’m obviously fans of both of them, and both of them are like family to me. It’s just kind of like tradition. Probably every single album I put out will have them involved in some way or another.
With “Love Is Gone,” you call out white supremacists and Trump supporters. Are you worried about potentially alienating some of your fans?
In times like this, concerns like that aren’t really valid. To be concerned about being outspoken, it’s not really the person I am or how I was raised. The world is on fire right now, and there are certain things that need to be talked about. When [rapper] YG asked me to do the remix of “F— Donald Trump,” I didn’t think about how that would alienate some of my fans. I just felt like that was something that I had a responsibility to do, and a desire to do.
You’re just a few studio albums into your career, but you address your younger, pre-famous self on the song “Eazy.” What inspired you to get reflective?
Sometimes you don’t get a chance to stop and take it in. Every single time I listen to it or perform it, I go back [to that place] again. It’s just something that’s important to do — to appreciate the journey and how far this has all come. I just want to keep making music. As long as it makes me happy, then I want to keep doing it. Unless I get good at acting — then I’ll jump into that world! [Laughs] For now, this is my existence. It’s all I’ve known since I was 14.