G-Eazy: The Beautiful & Damned – a grandiose hip-hop chronicle

Fri, Dec 15, 2017, 05:00

   
     

Album:
The Beautiful & Damned

Artist:
G-Eazy

Label:
RCA Records

Genre:
Hip-Hop & Rap

“Angel, Devil, it’s both him and I,” G-Eazy raps on the title track to his third album, The Beautiful & Damned, a sprawling, operatic epic that finds the Oakland emcee trying to make sense of fame, success and the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll fantasy through doomed storytelling, religious examination and sombre expression.

Matching grim, gothic, region-neutral beats with anthemic pop hooks that fill the soundscape, this is rap music of sweeping cinematics and expensive, high-art sheen.

G-Eazy grapples with his faith in the backdrop of hedonistic Hollywood over doomed choirs on Pray for Me, while the jazzy piano keys and boom-bap drums of Summer in December lay out the corrosive potential the town has on the soul in a way that’s stark and cutting.

The writing isn’t always quite on point. Some lyrics can feel very off the shelf, while Sober seems to veer between being an anti-alcohol number and an ode to booze in a way that’s muddled and confusing. In fact, G-Eazy – only a fair rapper but an improving one – is probably at his best when he gives in to the malevolence.

Legend, for example, sees him spit hot, mean-spirited braggadocio over a glass of whiskey and hit of Valium. But whether he’s playing the saint or demon or slipping into something between, this is a grandiose hip-hop chronicle you can’t turn away from.