Almost exactly a year ago, Bay Area rapper G-Eazy had two sold-out nights at The Wiltern as he toured behind his second album These Things Happen. Over the course of those two evenings, the young rapper brought out a venerable who’s who of the hip-hop community – from T.I. to Big Sean to Bay Area legend Too $hort.
A year later and G-Eazy was again headlining two sold-out nights in LA – this time at the much larger Shrine Expo Hall near USC. What was the 26-year-old from Oakland going to do to top his previous LA stint?
On the second night of his Shrine sets, G-Eazy brought out P. Diddy, Chris Brown, Wiz Khalifa, French Montana, YG, opener A$AP Ferg, and a handful of others. It’s clear that with the release of his third studio record When It’s Dark Out this past December, Gerald Gillum has earned the respect of his peers and taken his career to new heights.
One impressive aspect of G-Eazy’s show Wednesday night at The Shrine is just how it is a completely new beast compared to his From the Bay to the Universe Tour from last year. A lot of money was sunk into a dope-looking stage setup, which looked like a motel front with a live drummer and his DJ up above him. The graphics associated with each song were on point, including one where G-Eazy emojis cycled through on the video screen.
G-Eazy played mostly material from his new album though he took numerous looks back over the catalog of tunes that helped him build a steady following. The first six songs of his set were from the new record — which all the kids knew all the words to — before he brought out Ty Dolla $ign for Blasé. Then came older cuts “Far Alone” and crowd favorites “Tumblr Girls” and “Let’s Get Lost.” Opener A$AP Ferg came out for “Lotta That.”
The first big special surprise of the night was Wiz Khalifa coming out for a couple of his popular songs – “Bake Sale” and “We Dem Boyz.” Then it was Chris Brown’s turn, who came out to perform “Drifting” with G-Eazy. People kept inching closer and closer in the crowd with each special guest.
“F*CK! NOW I LOVE CHRIS BROWN!” said a female friend of mine about the controversial singer after he made the most of his stint on stage.
It’s crazy how prolific G-Eazy has been over the past few years. He’s continued to release new material on a regular basis and he’s climbed the ranks by virtue of working harder than a lot of others. Though his set and setlist have changed dramatically, G-Eazy has retained his signature look. His leather jacket, slicked undercut and T-shirt have helped him corner the market on the “guys want to be him, chicks want to be with him” feeling.
His new material has taken on an edgier and meatier slant than his earlier records, which mostly could have been classified as party, feel-good rap. On new songs, he deals with the ramifications that have come with blowing up seemingly overnight, while also combatting the issue of being a good-looking white rapper – which might have some feeling like he didn’t earn it – specifically on “Random” and “Me Myself and I.”
The biggest surprise was P. Diddy coming out, performing “All About the Benjamins” (which took me back to middle school) and him also giving G-Eazy the seal of approval. If you told me G-Eazy would be able to summon a half-dozen well-known rappers to one of his shows a few years ago, it would have been hard to believe. But here Young Gerald stood, surrounded by other talented and respected members of the hip-hop community.
G-Eazy closed his set with his latest single that’s been all over the radio, “Me Myself & I,” which also brought out the female hook-stress Bebe Rexha. His encore featured the one-two punch of newer track “You Got Me” and older cut “I Mean It.” It was the perfect way to send the crowd home after a nearly two-hour headline set.
Though his demographic is exceedingly young and white (and attractive), G-Eazy is starting to earn the respect of others. Having the support of his peers will surely translate well for him. Don’t be surprised if his name is on the second line of any festivals he plays in the latter part of the year. He’s earned it.
G-Eazy should just hit L.A. every year during GRAMMY week so he can pimp out just how deep his squad is. There are few out there that have as diverse of a group to pull from for special appearances.
Openers A$AP Ferg and Marc E. Bassy got the crowd going to set the stage for G-Eazy. The crowd was rather full even for their earlier sets because people wanted to get good spots. Chris Brown joined A$AP Ferg on stage for a song. Bassy gets props for bringing a live drummer and guitarist along with him. He’s more of a rapper-turnt-sanga (h/t T-Pain) and his vocals shined when he joined G-Eazy on stage later for “Some Kind of Drug.”
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photography: Lindsay Wiles