G-Eazy knows how to steal the show.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Staple brand, FN tapped the rap superstar to lead an exclusive conversation last month with founder, designer and collaboration legend Jeff Staple — and star with him on the August cover of the magazine. The venue was The Motoring Club, a member-exclusive co-working space in Los Angeles for car enthusiasts.
In a room full of classic Porsches, Land Rovers and other iconic automobiles, G-Eazy — whose real name is Gerald Gillum — arrived in arguably the most eye-catching car on the lot: a pristine black 1965 Ford Mustang.
However, what was on his feet was equally as impressive. The L.A. transplant (by way of Oakland, Calif.) had on Staple’s most beloved creation: the Nike Dunk SB Low “Pigeon” from 2005, a pair that now resells for as much as $110,000. His choice of footwear should come as no surprise, as G-Eazy is one of today’s most fashion-focused rappers.
Take, for instance, his presence at the Paris Men’s Fashion Week shows this season. (He told FN that most of his favorite collections there were by those he calls friends. For instance, he was particularly drawn to the new line from Shane Gonzales’ Midnight Studios imprint, as well as the shows of Reese Cooper and KidSuper.)
While G-Eazy has lately become a fixture at fashion events, the rapper has always had an eye for style. Today, he’s excited by the return of things like baggy jeans, which is reminiscent of his favorite era, the mid-’90s. As for footwear, he’s confessed he’s always been enamored with Air Jordans, specifically the first 14 signature models — specifically the 1, 4 and 5 — and Nike SB Dunks from the mid-2000s.
And he has particularly fond memories of the Air Jordan 14: “I got a pair of 14s for Christmas when I was in fourth grade. Prior to that, I always got my shoes from Goodwill, from Ross,” G-Eazy told FN. “I was raised by a single mom. It was my brother and I and her, and we didn’t have much. Getting my first pair of Jordans was a huge deal.”
He continued, “As a kid, I wanted to be accepted and fit in and wanted to participate in sneaker culture. I was in love with it but couldn’t afford it. Now later in my life, I get to have them and it all brings me back.”
An Eye for Style
Over the years, G-Eazy’s style has become more risky, more progressive. According to him, with the ability to experience different cultures and places, a radical transformation is to be expected.
“The spirit of any artist is in a constant state of evolution and movement. It’s hard for us to ever stay in one place forever,” he said. “We’re constantly observant people who are soaking up new inspirations. I’m lucky to get to travel as much as I do and to get to experience things like Fashion Week or spending time in New York or going back home to the Bay. I love people-watching and soaking up as much energy and game as I can. Staying in one place is a disservice to the spirit of any artist.”
What’s more, G-Eazy equates music to style in many ways, thinking of it as another avenue to communicate with the outside world. His varied influences, both aesthetically and musically, include the likes of Johnny Cash, 2Pac, Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, The Beatles, Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone — and a Matisse exhibit that he caught at MoMA on a recent trip to New York City.
The rapper officially entered the fashion business in 2017 by signing with H&M, and in 2019 he made further inroads by inking a deal with Puma.
Although no longer aligned with Puma, the rapper continues to speak favorably of the German sportswear powerhouse. “We had an incredible relationship,” he said. “The support I got from them was always solid. They were great partners to work with.”
However, his time with H&M offered him a different lesson. G-Eazy ended that partnership in 2018 after the brand revealed an ad campaign featuring a Black child wearing a “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hoodie, which he called “racially and culturally insensitive.”
“Corporate culture is big to me, as well as being aligned on an ethical level. It’s tough, but who you say yes to and who you say no to is a big deal — or at least it can be,” he explained. “I’m grateful for all the opportunities that have come into my life. It’s just about being able to navigate those waters and find situations that work the best for you and be on the same page.”
Art & Life
Since his arrival on the rap scene, G-Eazy’s output has been tremendous. Just over a decade into his professional music career, he has released six albums, including his latest effort, “These Things Happen Too,” which arrived in September 2021.
The 19-song project — which also released in a deluxe version with 10 more songs — was star-studded, featuring guest appearances by the likes of E-40, Demi Lovato and Lil Wayne, among others. The work, which still featured songs boasting about the glamorous life of a rap star, was arguably his most personal to date and touched on topics such as drug addiction and the consequences of infidelity.
However, not long after its release, G-Eazy’s mother, Suzanne Olmsted, died. As a means to heal, the rapper released the song “Angel” as a tribute to her, five months after she passed away.
“Healing is a difficult process, grieving is a difficult process, and it’s not always linear. But writing it, recording it, getting it out of me into some tangible form as a record was incredibly healing,” said G-Eazy. “Further than that, I think it’s helped a lot of other people heal as well. I wanted to write it in a way that was specific to my story, but also universally relatable to other people that may be going through something even remotely similar. If you’ve lost somebody and have yearned for the ability to connect with them again, in dreams or in some other way, I wanted this to be something people could heal with.”
And although difficult, the healing was eased by his close relationship with his brother, James Gillum.
“He checks me all the time, he humbles me quick. He’s the best guy I know,” G-Eazy said. “He’s got a heart of gold and he’s so wise for his age. He has his way of being brutally honest with me. When I first started trying to sing — and I say he’s the real musician in the family — but I sent him some of my early demos when I was trying to sing and he gave brutal feedback, letting me know that I just wasn’t that good yet.”
He continued, “It’s important, especially after having gone through what we’ve both gone through this year, for us to stay close to each other and to be in constant contact and communication.”
With these peaks and valleys of success and heartbreak, a maturing G-Eazy has admitted to experiencing a wealth of personal growth recently, which he has discussed publicly. That growth has also played out through his music.
“Most music — especially hip-hop — ends up being a bit autobiographical. You’re telling your story firsthand,” G-Eazy explained. “A lot of it is about your life and what you’re currently going through, documenting these different chapters. Each album is like a different chapter in an artists’ autobiography. That’s the way I look at it. I see it as almost like a diary I keep.”
His favorite chapter in that book? That would be 2015, the year he released his first top 10 hit, “Me, Myself & I” with Bebe Rexha.
“Nothing is like your first taste of success, your first ride on the roller coaster. I remember the year that ‘Me, Myself & I’ came out — we added it up and I played something like 275 shows that year out of 365 days. It was a whirlwind, but I got to travel the world and see how people responded to my music. It was a dream come true,” he recalled.
While his fans are enamored with his brand of rap, G-Eazy has become more experimental as of late, dabbling in other genres via covers of timeless classics. For instance, the artist added a cover of “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak to his latest album, which was met with largely favorable reviews. He’s also reimagined classics from Radiohead and The Beatles.
“It’s not uncommon for fans to almost take ownership over their favorite artists,” he said. “They feel like artists owe them a certain type of sound or a certain style. As a creative, you just want to be able to be free, you want to be able to make whatever you want that makes you happy — but it’s a give and take.”
He continued, “Having creative freedom is one of the best feelings on the planet, but you have to know that it’s not going to land with everybody. There are certain things that I do that I’m like, ‘OK, this just sounds like things that are familiar in my track record, my discography, so this will probably land with more people than some of the more experimental stuff I try.’”
But that doesn’t mean he’s lost touch with the Bay Area scene. He’s still friends and collaborators with icons E-40 and Too $hort, and has kept tabs on the latest talent, including P-Lo, AllBlack and 22nd Jim.
Beyond fashion and music, G-Eazy has also expanded his professional interests to include the metaverse. In April, the artist launched his debut NFT collection in partnership with the Quincy Jones-backed platform OneOf. The initial NFT range, dubbed “The Geralds,” was created by artist Dzanar.
“The way we connect with each other, the way currency is shifting and the way the value of our work is shifting, it’s something you’ve got to keep your finger on the pulse of,” said G-Eazy. “It’s an exciting new frontier. I don’t claim to be the most well-versed in this, I’m just curious to constantly learn more and soak up the game and figure out all that I can.”
And now he’ll have more time to indulge his curiosity. Less than a year removed from his last album and worn out from a touring pace has been nothing short of relentless, G-Eazy is giving himself some time off for the first time in his career.
“For the better part of 10 years, I was either on the road or in an intense recording schedule trying to get another album done and delivered,” he said. “This year, I’ve given myself more time and freedom to figure out what it is I want to say, where I want to go next and work at my own pace. That’s a nice change for me.”