The Beautiful and Damned is the conflicted story of G-Eazy, the James Dean of rap
It’s been fun watching the meteoric rise of G-Eazy.
Having watched it firsthand as an acquaintance of young Gerald, it’s always good to see someone you know and respect winning. From his early mixtapes, to his often super relatable debut album, These Things Happen, to his worldwide arrival with the multi-platinum selling single, “Me, Myself & I” - taken from his sophomore album When It’s Dark Out - it’s been one hell of a ride for the James Dean of rap so far.
Returning with The Beautiful and Damned, G’s third album represents “the next chapter of Gerald.” Talking to Billboard earlier this year he added: “I’m further exploring my Gemini; you know, the duality and the split personality of who I am.”
A concept that takes a few spins to truly identify, there are several conflicts on display throughout The Beautiful and Damned. There’s the lover and the fighter, the reckless and the restrained, and the battle between creating music for the masses and keeping the non-commercial fans happy. With that said, it can’t be easy for G-Eazy as he tells the tale of good vs. evil.
With the devil at work on “Pray For Me”, he promotes the carefree rockstar lifestyle: “These women, they plot and they scheming/ Do anything to get ahold of my semen/ I’m flushing the rubber, you won’t get my children.” However, contradicting himself at the first chance he gets, on the very next song, “Him & I”, he teams up with his real life girlfriend, pop starlet Halsey, to salute their ride or die love in a Method Man and Mary J. Blige “I’ll Be There for You/ You’re All I Need to Get By” kinda way. But that’s precisely the point.
There are times on The Beautiful and Damned where G overdoes the late night drinking and drug references - we get it you like to party a lot - but there are moments where it’s necessary and feels more authentic than others.
Take for example the Charlie Puth assisted “Sober”. Less about bragging and more about learning that his regrets at the hands of alcohol can be avoided, G-Eazy speaks his conflicted truth over a thought-provoking piano arrangement laced with an injection of beautifully distorted soundscapes at the hands of The Futuristics and Dakari.
Other highlights include “Summer In December”, “Charles Brown”, and the arrogantly stellar “The Plan”. But when on “No Less” G switches trap hi-hats for muffled synths and warm bass kicks he shines brighter than at any other point on the album. Produced by SG Lewis, “No Less” sounds international. Igniting a sense of musicality - even though it’s electronically created - it’s more than a love song, it’s a heartfelt confessional that hears G openly wearing his heart on his sleeve for the woman he loves.
There are times on The Beautiful and Damned where G-Eazy gets caught up in the trappings of the modern day demand for mundane records with repetitive lyrical content and boring instrumentation - “That’s A Lot” and “Gotdam” are an example of this - but sometimes it works.
“No Limit” isn’t the greatest song I’ve ever heard but it’s also not one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. And apparently I’m not the only one that thinks this. Riding high on charts everywhere, the Boi-1da and Allen Ritter produced song was made for the club. Sounding like something Juvenile might have jumped on during the early days of Cash Money Records, the A$AP Rocky and Cardi B featured number is ridiculously catchy. Not really doing anything to aid the concept of The Beautiful and Damned, it’s an average club banger designed to help sell the album.
Ending on a high, whether it’s “Fly Away” with its similar drum pattern to Nas’ “One Mic”, the Drew Love (They.) featured “Love Is Gone”, or “Eazy”, a track inspired by Ray Allen’s “Letter to My Younger Self”, the back end of The Beautiful and Damned is the most consistent we’ve heard G for quite some time.
While The Beautiful and Damned doesn't have a mammoth hit like “Me, Myself & I”, and isn’t quite as cohesive as These Things Happen, it’s still very much a worthy listen. G-Eazy might not be the wordsmith say a Kendrick Lamar is but he’s got gumption, he’s got passion, and he can definitely hold his own he has to. You don’t always need to use big words to get your point across or to make something sound good. On The Beautiful and Damned G uses his natural born creativity to his advantage, penning a concept album many can identify with and laying it out over a series of head nodding drums and soul-stirring soundscapes.
G-Eazy's The Beautiful and Damned is out now on RCA Records.