'These Things Happened': The story of famed rapper G-Eazy's chart-topping journey
Directed by Rob Semmer, Creative Director for FADER, “These Things Happened” takes viewers behind the scenes of G-Eazy’s amazing ascent to chart-topping rapper. The Spotlight Story mixes concert clips, backstage interviews, and documentary footage of the rapper’s hometown, including the street corners where he used to hand out mixtapes more than a decade ago. Today, G-Eazy boasts more than 3 billion views across YouTube, with his recent hit “No Limit” reaching as high as #3 on the YouTube Music U.S. Top 100 Tracks chart and #1 on Billboard’s Pop Songs chart.
“It didn't work the traditional route until I got it popping on my own on YouTube,” the rapper says. “I'm forever grateful for the opportunity that was presented to an artist like myself.”Born Gerald Earl Gillum in 1989, G-Eazy was raised by a working-class family in California's Bay Area. As a teenager, he was inspired by the region's burgeoning hyphy hip-hop sound, producing bedroom mixtapes, which he sold along Berkeley’s Telegraph Ave.
After years of self-released recordings and accompanying tours, including tour diaries posted to YouTube, G-Eazy had his breakthrough with “Been On.” The song is pure G-Eazy in that its tight lyrics flow over a hazy beat. The video was instantly iconic: a single slo-mo shot of the rapper smoking in black and white. The clip has tallied over 70 million YouTube views, and its success online helped break G-Eazy to the masses. A follow-up video, “Me, Myself & I,” featuring Bebe Rexha, landed a top 10 slot on the Billboard Hot 100.
G-Eazy's latest LP, “The Beautiful & Damned,” reflects on the fame that he's achieved since the album release. “These Things Happened” picks up at present day, staying by the rapper's side as he promotes the album and plays shows in support of it. A record-signing event even takes him back to the Bay Area, where he meets fans at Berkeley's Amoeba Records.“I remember those shows in Berkeley at La Pena,” G-Eazy recalls. “We sold out La Pena with like 200 people. It's not even a venue. They call it a cultural center. They booked me 'cus no one in the Bay would book me.”
“These Things Happened” captivates in part because even in the La Pena days, G-Eazy was documenting himself, shooting footage, and uploading it to YouTube for his fans.
“If you're not active on YouTube, if you're not visible, if you're not giving that window into your life at all, then you're just disappearing,” he says.
For now, G-Eazy doesn't have to worry. “These Things Happened” ends a few blocks from where it started. Back in New York, with G-Eazy all grown up, a star around the world. This time he gazes up again to see himself—and his YouTube channel—advertised in a new billboard high above the street.
“It’s the age of access,” says G-Eazy. “YouTube provides a peek into your life, into your world, into your process. You close that window for too long and you run the risk of losing your audience.”
“It’s an honor to partner with and help tell the story of an artist with such a clear vision,” said Lyor Cohen, Global Head of Music at YouTube. “It’s equally rewarding to work with a label like RCA that is so supportive in collaborating to propel G-Eazy and bring context to his journey.”