G-Eazy Discusses Time Away From Music, Jay-Z’s Influence & His Return: ‘I Want My Seat at the Table’

G-Eazy is back. The Bay Area artist caught up with Billboard about his time away from the music scene, his come-up and his upcoming album.

“I went through some personal things with losing my mom and there was just a bit of an overall burnout,” he told Billboard R&B/hip-hop reporter Neena Rouhani. “We started aggressively trying to tour and release music independently. That level of grind catches up to you.”

After a soul-searching hiatus, the 33-year-old rapper is back in motion and has no plans of letting up. “I just needed that step back. Once that spark hit it was like, ‘Yeah, it’s over. We found it. Now y’all are in trouble.’”

His latest single “Tulips & Roses” is all about giving flowers while someone is still here to receive them. The track centers on “human vulnerability,” G-Eazy says, adding, “People put artists on this pedestal where you’re supposed to be the superhero and invincible. But at the end of the day, anybody could have a bad day or catch an L.”

The rapper is pleased with the fan reaction to “Tulips & Roses,” which has over 1 million views on YouTube. “When you make music, you’re making it in the studio with your closest team. When you put it out, all of a sudden, it has this life because it’s impacting all these people,” he says.

G-Eazy reflected on his journey, from a 13-year-old kid who bumped Too $hort, Mac Dre and E-40 in his bedroom to a world-famous artist playing arena shows. “I started making beats and the beats were trash. I started like writing little raps in my notebooks, I didn’t know how to like structure a song or even how to count bars,” he explains of his early years. “I’m just 14 in Oakland, in size 36 jeans and baggy white tees.”

But one day, while listening to Jay-Z’s critically acclaimed The Black Album, everything changed. “I was like, if we’re gonna do this, I want to chase him. I want to aspire to that,” he says today. “If I could go back in time and tell that 14-year-old version of me that we’d be sitting here doing this or that I’ve done these arenas, that’s unfathomable.”

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