The third solo studio album by Gerald Earl Gillum (the artist known as G-Eazy) is to this writer a work without a clear audience, a claim that could also be made about the artist himself.

G-Eazy’s default setting oddly enough, is not dissimilar from that of (the much-more-successful) Drake – namely, lamenting the pitfalls of fame and bemoaning the emotional distance that status puts between the artist and others. However Drake possesses a talent for melody that Mr. Gillum does not, and it’s to the detriment of his oeuvre, sadly. Drake may be accused (correctly, in some estimation) of whining, but at the very least it is interesting-sounding and catchy whining, and he has a string of hits to show for it.

Nominally, G-Eazy is a Bay Area artist. How do we know? Why, here’s a track with Bay Area legend E-40, titled “Charles Brown”:

“Yeah, and I heard ’em say
Nothing’s ever promised, tomorrow or today
From the Bay
Like 40 & Dre
So Imma do it in a major way
I said, I heard ’em say
Nothing’s ever promised, tomorrow or today
From the Bay
Like 40 & Dre
Chasing dreams, it’s the only way”

Also though, Young Gerald is down with the cool kids. Again, we know this because he has a track with A$AP Rocky and Cardi B, “No Limit”, which features what is easily the most uninspired hook on the album, and that’s saying a lot. Over a ‘meh’ beat courtesy of Boi-1da:

“Ayy, yeah, f–k with me and get some money
Yeah, ayy, f–k with me and get some money
Ayy, yeah, f–k with me and get some money
Ayy, yeah, f–k with G and get some money”

This track does the impressive task of making Cardi B boring. Say what you will about her, but at least she’s usually interesting to listen to, especially on a feature. Not so, here.

The most interesting-sounding track on the album, by and large, is “Sober” a collaboration with New Jersey-born artist Charlie Puth, who deserves most of the credit for singing a catchy hook on the song, ostensibly about overindulgence and poor choices. This track could have been an interesting exploration of the causes of his drinking, the pain he’s avoiding, and why he chooses to chase the pain away instead of confronting it. Instead, the listener is left to what amounts to a listicle of ’10 Things That Happen When You Drink’:

“With every shot, they’re like ‘Aw, here Kobe comes!’
But I got this bad bitch trying to throw me buns
If I listened to my Uncs, all them older ones
They all talk about karma, how it slowly comes (uh)
But, life is short, enjoy it while you’re young
Spend my bank account tonight and have to borrow funds
It all started with a light glass
Now I’m asking ‘How long could tonight last?’
Man, she had an eeh face with a tight ass
If I had a shot less, then I might pass
But, I’m faded and I got a little sedated
I can’t believe we made it, every night we celebrate it
I live like Jim Morrison, no telling where I’ll take it
I take her to my room and I tell her ‘Get naked'”

If it feels like I’m being harsh towards the album, I am. I don’t understand what Mr. Gillum is adding to the culture or what he brings to the table that isn’t already done by someone else, and better. That’s not to say that he’s terrible at any one thing; he’s not. He’s a perfectly milquetoast rapper. If you could name any attribute that you’d want a successful artist to possess, G-Eazy is dead-set in the middle of the distribution on the scale. His voice is a little gravelly, but not enough to get your attention in the way that, say, an Action Bronson does. If you’re looking for a (white) rapper dealing in addiction stories, Eminem is more thoroughly introspective. He’s not the worst lyricist, or the worst at selecting beats, or the worst at courting featured artists.

His worst transgression, by far, is that he succeeds (spectacularly so) at being boring. Nothing about the album is memorable. I’d be floored if 90% of the listening public recalled anything about this album 5 years from now; it’s that vanilla. “The Beautiful & Damned” functions as a black hole of charisma, sucking the light and life out of any artist unfortunate enough to get too close to it.

G-Eazy :: The Beautiful & Damned
4Overall Score