It doesn't come eazy to all

"When It's Dark Out" by G-Eazy G-Eazy is an Oakland rapper who has been regularly putting out mixtapes for almost 10 years now. Considering Gerald Gillum is only 26, this is a relatively impressive feat. Personally, I haven’t been listening to much G-Eazy over those 10 years, but it is clear that a lot of other people have been.

In 2012 his 2nd independently released album, “Must Be Nice,” managed to pop up on the Billboard hip-hop chart. He followed it up a couple years later with “These Things Happen,” a proper commercial debut which topped the Billboard hip-hop chart, and peaked at number three on the Hot 100.

With the release of “When It’s Dark Out,” G-Eazy’s 2015 album, he has a chance to take a leap. A very popular rapper with an impressive rise to fame stands on the precipice of legitimate stardom. But if what G-Eazy puts forth on this record is really the best he has to offer, it is clear his career is ready to plateau.

It’s sad, because he really puts himself in a position to succeed. Pretty much every one of these 17 tracks has a strong beat and a competent hook. Nothing great, but all extremely serviceable. G-Eazy built himself a template for a very successful sophomore album, and simply challenged himself to fill in the blanks with, you know, good rapping. The results in this department are, to be generous, mixed.

G-Eazy spends most of his time on “When It’s Dark Out” imitating Drake — there are some ad-libs that made me genuinely think Drake was about to hop on the track. Honestly, that’s a really good idea; who doesn’t love Drake? Unsurprisingly, his skills do not compare to Drake’s in any technical facet of rapping. More so, the problem is that he lacks Drake’s energy, likability, and charisma.

So much of the album is spent spinning the narrative of G-Eazy’s past and his inevitable come-up, something constantly present in Drake’s discography, especially his early work. When a young Drake delved into details of his personal past, it felt as though he had a story he genuinely needed to share with us. When G-Eazy does the same, it regularly comes across as forced. It feels like he’s doing it because he knows he has to because, well, Drake did it.

Even if you get past the impossible-to-ignore Drake comparisons, G-Eazy fails by putting out a bloated and repetitive album filled with boring, mediocre rapping. He is one of those rappers who manages to trick some audiences into thinking he is rapping well by doing it quickly and in a variety of flows. G-Eazy at times manages to sound like a good rapper, but that is not the case.

What his quick rapping can’t mask is his awful, generic lyrics and weak, sometimes ridiculous song premises. “What If” is essentially John Lennon’s “Imagine” written by a teenager. The first verse is a list of what-if scenarios about improvements to his life and ends with the gem “I don’t know, I’m just saying/Just some ideas I had on my brain.” On incredibly misguided trap experiment “You Got Me,” Eazy props up the “Bitch you got me fucked up” hook with verses full of repeating “Bitch you got fucked me up” and lines like, “Cops pull me over say, “Sir are you drunk or high/I say, ‘fuck the fuck off.’”

G-Eazy turns in a decent effort on “Of All Things,” but an obnoxious hook goes, “But of all things in this life you could pick to be/You sure look like a hater or a bitch to me.” The track also somehow has a feature from Too $hort in the year 2015.

On “Order More,” Eazy finds success utilizing a vocal effect — something he could certainly use more of given how weak and unconvincing his voice sounds over the duration of this album.

Every time the album heads in the right direction, it’s thrown off track by G-Eazy’s complete and utter inability to make it through a whole song without saying something nauseating. “Calm Down,” maybe the best song on the album, is littered by the lyrical abomination, “Having visions of fucking an A-list singer/ Kardashian, or a Jenner/But Ye’s got Kim, Tyga swooped up Kylie/So there’s one left/ watch me go get her.” Trust me, it doesn’t sound any better on the track than it reads.

“When It’s Dark Out” finds some success in its second half by putting Eazy over some sunnier instrumentals. When his tone is lighter and less self-serious, his charm can reach passable levels. “Some Kind of Drug” features a really strong R&B hook from Marc E. Bassy who croons, “Girl, come through” — hello again, Drake — and G-Eazy does a fine job spinning a yarn about a night spent between himself and a lady.

I could go on forever about all of the things G-Eazy does that I find grating — the overdone references to his whiteness, the desperately forced emotion, or the half-assed attempts at arrogance. I want to say that if he manages to erase these things from his repertoire, he could eventually become an engaging MC. Hell, I wasn’t particularly into Drake when “Thank Me Later” dropped. But from what is presented here, I don’t think I can say that with confidence. It’s not enough for him to stop making bad jokes, write better lyrics and start writing more creative songs. He needs to completely develop an original point-of-view, and how many rappers have done that 10 years into their career?

As far as “When It’s Dark Out” goes, I recommend listening to something else. There are a list of very talented people not named G-Eazy who did great work on this record. You should go out and support their independent work. They deserve it after being roped into what ended up being a mediocre and underwhelming sophomore effort.