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G-Eazy - The Beautiful & Damned (Album Review)

Wednesday, 03 January 2018 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

G-Eazy has been calling himself the “rap game’s James Dean” since day one. And give the Californian credit where it’s due: he’s just as confident and good looking, even if at 28 he’s already lived longer than his idol. ‘The Beautiful & Damned’ is Eazy’s fourth record and the title shows he’s been consistent with his branding, if nothing else.

The problem with making a double album that reflects your dual personality, though, is you need a personality in the first place. Whether he’s rapping about his hedonistic lifestyle or the comedown that comes with it, G-Eazy is depressingly and infuriatingly boring. In our post-Eminem world where pretentious white rappers run amok, he still manages to come across as pompous and devoid of (deliberate) humour.

In his defence that is in keeping with the production, with styles ranging from laidback jazz (Summer in December) to gritty trap (Legend). Strings are used liberally to add drama and tension, which makes sense given self-indulgence is the main characteristic of the first half of the record.

In a pre-album interview with Billboard, Eazy summed up the album’s key themes: “This fantasy of, like, sex, drugs, & rock 'n' roll is kinda clichéd, but it’s clichéd for a reason. It's dark."

But there’s nothing dark about the way he frivolously delivers his rhymes. On the single Him & I, his flow is so formulaic it sounds automated, and he descends into parody when he unconvincingly informs a lover: “I swear most likely I’m gonna die with you.”

Such sentiments also feel insincere alongside misogynistic lines like those on Pray For Me: “They do anything to get hold of my semen / I’m flushing the rubber, you won’t get my children.” On That’s a Lot, Eazy mocks a woman for her eating disorder, before making a heartfelt plea for gender equality on Love is Gone.

He at least follows through on this outlined concept, even if it’s hilariously unsubtle (he calls himself “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” on Legend). But, if anything, the introspective half of the record is the more nauseating of the two. Eazy commits to a journey of a self-reflection, but conveniently chooses to do so after spending over an hour celebrating his enormous wealth, bragging about sleeping with hundreds of women and reciting his various achievements.

If the album has any redeeming features, it’s the features. E-40 is at his colourful best on the laidback Charles Brown, while A$AP Rocky delivers one of his better guest verses on the raucous No Limit. But even then, these spots only serve to focus back on Eazy and his inability to bounce off the energy of those around him.

The album’s front cover depicts a bloodied G-Eazy, eyes fixed on the floor as he’s cloaked in darkness. Yet, there’s nothing on ‘The Beautiful & Damned’ to suggest he’s remorseful or unhappy with his luxurious daily life. It’s a drawn out, self-centred record that lacks empathy, self-awareness or depth – ironically, quite unlike the late Mr Dean he so idolises.

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