G-Eazy’s popularity is a great example of how far the music industry has come. Sans radio single, sans famous rapper cosign, sans beats from super producers, the Bay Area-native has leveraged blog exposure, social media reach and a relentless touring schedule into a sizeable fan base. These Things Happen is his third LP—he’s got a handful of mixtapes, EPs and features under his belt—and yet it still somehow feels like it should be an introductory effort. It doesn’t sound that way, though, because G-Eazy is, in fact, already a star, or at the very least destined to become one.
The cusp of celebrity, teetering on the edge of stardom, that’s the recurring theme on These Things Happen. To that end, there’s the title track, where fame is knocking at Eazy’s door, but then security at his own shows doesn’t recognize him. There’s “Almost Famous,” where he questions how long he can keep up this level of micro-fame, and the LP’s best song “Opportunity Cost.” Over a descending electric piano melody, Eazy plaintively lays out the downsides of it all (“Missing every birthday, anniversary/ Yesterday my moms got out of surgery/ Wasn’t even in town, shows and after parties what I’ve been ‘round/ Finding out the news late, imagine how that shit sound”). The song closes with an emotional voicemail from his mother, her voice cracking while telling him she’s proud. It’s a little sappy, but it works.
While G-Eazy is certainly a witty and adept lyricist—he rarely sounds out of pocket on this LP—one noticeable drawback to his work is that it can be derivative. “Far Alone,” for example, with its sing-songy hook and hurry-up-and-wait flow features shades of Drake, shades of Kid Cudi, shades of Big Sean. Mixed in there, somewhere, is a shade of G-Eazy; it’s hard to tell where, though. And though it’s a good record, “Lotta That,” featuring A$AP Ferg, feels like more of an A$AP Mob song than anything else. “Tumblr Girls” is solid, but too obvious (for a more clever take on this subject, see: Yung Jake’s “Cut Offs”), akin to a rap version of Chainsmokers’ “Selfie.”
This is to take nothing away from G-Eazy. These Things Happen is a strong, enjoyable LP that will definitely move the 25-year-old closer to wherever it is he wants to go. If it’s the radio, he may be missing a bonafide first single—something to identify with exclusively—but “Shoot Me Down” and “Downtown,” with their R&B grooves, are absolutely contenders for second and third singles. Maybe the absence of that catchy first single is intentional, too. It’s giving him more time to find his voice, more room to figure out exactly who he is. The beauty of being an artist is that there’s always room to grow, and there’s a lot of that here. G-Eazy is just getting comfortable. —Paul Cantor (@PaulCantor)