If you’re in search for a meaningful record, one with compelling lyrics and clever word play, then The Beautiful & Damned is definitely not your album.
Bay Area rapper Gerald Earl Gillum, a.k.a G-Eazy (not to be confused with talented artists such as Jeezy or Eazy-E), has been on a constant mainstream rise since his 2014 release These Things Happen, in which the painfully annoying track “Mean It” made a brief appearance on the airwaves. With that minuscule accomplishment under his belt, Gillum was able to afford a few A-list features for his sophomore album When It’s Dark Out: a 2015 release packaged with the unavoidable hit “Me, Myself, & I” that launched G-Eazy into the stratosphere. With his newfound fame G-Eazy was enlisted for the failed come back Britney Spears album, the soundtrack for the flop of a movie Ghostbusters, and the snoozefest soundtrack that came with the film “The Fate of the Furious”. Gillum's "comeback" from this came in the form of the song “No Limit", a god awful cut carried up onto the charts through the help of A$AP Rocky and 2017 break through artist Cardi B.
On December 15th, G-Eazy then released into the world what is more or less a carbon copy of his last album. In an excessive 20 tracks, split up onto two physical CDs, Gillum covers familiar ground and gives little to no progression to his personal style or musical capabilities. With rhymes as simplistic as "look, cook, book, took" etc, one might think a 3rd grader was learning how to write poetry.
Throughout the record Gillum continuously stumbles to write interesting lyrics, ending up having as much depth and meaning as a blank piece of paper. On top of his lyrical inhibitions, G found little inspiration between his third album and The Beautiful & Damned. It’s far too easy to find songs from each of the albums that are blatant pen pals. For example “Him & I” featuring G’s current girlfriend Halsey is a lackluster and obvious recreation of “Me, Myself, & I”. "Summer In December” is an unabashedly rips off of Gerald’s own song “Sad Boy”. “But A Dream” is the clunky awkward cousin of the track “Been On” from Gillum's first record.
At least ¼ of The Beautiful & Damned consists of empty and hollow tracks: “Pray For Me”, “But A Dream”, “Legend”, “Gotdamn”, and “That’s A Lot” all fall very short of catching any attention. In fact, the majority of Gillum’s weakest songs clearly exemplify what makes a G-Eazy song tolerable: Features. Zoe Nash, Halsey, Charlie Puth, Cardi B, Kehlani, E-40, SG Lewis, Drew Love, and more, all lend a helping hand at keeping the record afloat. Nash opens Damned with an old raspy yet captivating voice helping set the tone for what follows. Halsey and Charlie Puth come to aide on the next few songs to add a touch of pop to the mix. Towards the second half of the album, artists Drew Love, SG Lewis, Madison Love, Louis Mattrs, and Ugochi give a welcome freshness to a handful of songs that I truly do adore. On top of all of that Kehlani comes in what might be one of the absolute cleanest features to date on a G-Eazy album.
Yet, not only is the feature of Sam Martin bothersome, track twelve is where Gillum literally says, “you don’t want this” - referencing fame. There’s nothing that gets under my skin faster, as a listener, than when a celebrity complains to the masses about how hard being rich and successful is. The motif comes off as petty, ungrateful, and whiny. This is a critical look into what’s wrong with his music, it seemingly never moves away from one topic: himself.
Where you might find other artists making compelling remarks on society, battles with depression, racism, and a whole mcflurry of other various current events, G-Eazy refuses to change the topic from himself.
With all that said, only one out of the twenty songs attempts at making any kind of social and political statement and this comes on the second to last track “Love is Gone”. The song employs a well written hook but the content of track is telling that Gillum has a difficult time separating himself from the message. When G tries to make a political statement, he spends the majority of bars talking about how he has a stage to deliver a message, how he doesn’t want to separate his fans, and how he doesn’t want to taint his music with a flop song (the irony is, literally, deafening). It never passes my ears as anything but more wallowing selfishness.
Overall “The Beautiful & Damned” is audible proof as to why G-Eazy remains a D-list artist whom, at best, offers the occasional banger to the radio station.
Colton Newman is the photo editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org