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Hip Hop’s Greaser

Clean-shaven with slicked-back hair and sporting a perfecto leather jacket,  rising hip-hop star G-Eazy could easily be mistaken for a cologne model. With his retro greaser look, G-Eazy (né Gerald Earl Gillum) has cultivated a unique style for his chosen genre, earning him the title of “the James Dean of hip hop.” Caught between flattered and exasperated by this categorization, G-Eazy is trying to stake his own ground. 

“It’s definitely a compliment,” G-Eazy tells EW. “James Dean is a legend, an iconic American star. He’s timeless and girls still have posters of him on the walls.” He continues, “But you know, I dress the way I want. I do music the way I want,” adding that “It’s easy to put people in boxes, but that’s because people don’t really know you.” 

G-Eazy is part of the post-boom bap generation of hip hop, fusing with other genres (as in his version of “Runaround Sue”) and attracting audiences that lean mainstream. After two years on the road, G-Eazy returns with his third record, These Things Happen, a more mature album influenced by the hyphy sound of the Bay Area. “It’s finely crafted. We had more time, there’s more music on it,” G-Eazy says. “I grew up as a person. My perspectives on life and my techniques have changed.”

The Oakland-based artist has found hip-hop legitimacy: He toured with Lil Wayne, opened for Drake and E-40 makes an appearance on new track “Far Alone.” “He’s a hero,” says G-Eazy. “Having somebody of that stature on this record is definitely a big moment.” 

IamSu!, Sol and Jay Ant open for G-Eazy  8 pm Friday, Aug. 29, at McDonald Theatre; $25 adv., $30 door. — Barbara Marty