On G-Eazy’s “Almost Famous,” the 25-year-old Bay Area MC raps, “So if you don’t fuck with me I’m OK with that.” What might at first seem like just another line reads as more of a mantra after listening to These Things Happen, which may inspire admiration in some of the newer segments of hip-hop’s ever growing audience and indifference or even distaste in the more traditional areas of the genre’s fan base.
Statistics like over 174,000 Twitter followers (and counting) and millions of YouTube views for his videos, or the backing of the Blueprint Group (the management team behind stars like Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne), suggest that G-Eazy is poised to burst into success at any moment. Unfortunately, the vast majority of These Things Happen’s lyrical content relies too heavily on that idea. Song after song gives us the glamorous details that come with having a frantic lifestyle that is teetering on the edge of stardom and not much else.
On the album’s title track, G-Eazy introduces us to “the most insane year of my life” and raps, “Only pay attention if you pay me/Chilling with a Sarah and a Vicky and Jamie/Just a young man living life can you blame me?” and sets the tone for many of the songs that follow. He echoes a similar sentiment on the chorus to “Almost Famous,” singing “Young with too much cash/Watch how I came up fast/they say I’m next to get it.” While heaps of rappers rely too heavily on one subject, the real problem is that G-Eazy lacks creativity when doing so. Lines like “anyone would tell you that one good girl is worth 20 hoes” are derivative of tired clichés while “missing every birthday anniversary/yesterday my moms got out of surgery/wasn’t even in town, shows and after parties all I been round” is eerily Drake-ish.
As consistent as his focus on his increasingly fast life is his voice, which throughout the entire album rarely escalates above a laid-back, methodic, too-cool-for-school monotone. His consistency gives him a distinct and enjoyable sound, but his toned-down delivery is easily overshadowed when E-40 and A$AP Ferg, two rappers with entertainingly erratic flows, lend guest verses on “Far Alone” and “Lotta That” respectively.
While much of These Things Happen is over simplistic, there are songs where G-Eazy shines as a storyteller and songwriter. For example, “Downtown Love” avoids the repetitiveness of other songs and instead focuses on a unique and spectacularly described love story between him and a “beautiful, outgoing, alcoholic socialite.” On the 808s & Heartbreak-esque beat, G-Eazy is at his most emotional and the song’s chorus of “Just wondering if you noticed me” makes his feelings of anger and insecurity relatable. Lines like “You’re in love with material and even more in love with attention” paint a vivid description of the song’s subject and make up some of the best lyrical content on the album. However, the promise shown in “Downtown Love” is short lived as in the next song he’s back to tossing out clichés like “Big ol house I’m gonna get you that/overseas trips baby let’s do that.”
Another of the album’s highpoints is the production and its noteworthy variety, which is owed to the fact that the album targets more than just hip-hop fans and therefore features sounds those on a strict rap diet might not be used to hearing. Much of the production lies somewhere between futuristic sounding synth-hop and borderline electronic pop music, reminiscent of an artist like Ryan Hemsworth. “Let’s Get Lost,” featuring American Idol contestant Devon Baldwin, has a hook with its sights set on young female fans and is sure to have them shouting back the lyrics at his shows.
Ultimately, while what G-Eazy lacks in lyrical skill and originality may be a flaw to some, his plain rhymes might be perfectly straightforward for the fans that already make up much of his movement. Hip-hop listeners are more diverse than ever and it certainly seems like there is a market for G-Eazy’s somewhat shallow party-boy rhymes.—Max Goldberg