California rapper and producer G-Eazy debuted his fourth studio album, “The Beautiful & Damned,” on Dec. 15, 2017. The project featured many collaborations with popular artists, including Halsey, Cardi B and Charlie Puth.
Peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop chart and No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200, the album has been met with mixed reviews from critics. The album also included two singles, “No Limit” and “Him and I,” which were released on Dec. 8 and 5, respectively.
“No Limit” in particular achieved massive commercial success, going platinum and peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 100. For G-Eazy and his collaborators, A$AP Rocky and Cardi B, the song created milestones, becoming Cardi B’s second top five song on the charts and tying A$AP Rocky’s record for highest charting song.
However, the album itself seems to have lost its own vision. Appearing to be inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1922 novel of the same name, the album intended to explore the struggles of the famous, such as battling the pressure of sex, drugs and performance. Most songs, though, appear to settle into the well-overdone glorification of these themes and objectification of women.
For some critics, the length of the album was another problem.
“The album is a two-disc album at a time when nobody uses discs. There’s no interruption, no welcome silence between discs one and discs two,” Wren Graves of Consequence of Sound said.
The inclusion of featured artists from such different genres was both appreciated and bizarre. While Cardi and A$AP definitely fit the bill, having singers like Anna of the North and Charlie Puth sing the chorus four times and then not contribute anything for the rest of the song was a waste of potential. Unfortunately, G-Eazy is also outshined by the talent of these singers in some cases, notably in “Crash and Burn,” featuring Kehlani, and “Him & I,” featuring Halsey.
The style and coherence of the album is also conflicted. Some songs have catchy beats with typical hip-hop style bars, such as “Legend,” which starts with the line “I’m back drinking whiskey.” Others appear to reflect an attempt at deeper meaning, such as “Love is Gone,” featuring Drew Love, which talks about the entertainer’s role in politics. The end result leaves the audience confused as to who G-Eazy actually is.
Overall, the album lacks the artistic genius of a serious rap album or the fun of a collection of party songs. The listener can clearly make the distinction between two different albums that have been forced to coexist in “The Beautiful and Damned.”
Most of the songs are fun to listen to on their own, but to hear the album as a whole in its 20-song glory is at best confusing and, at worst, a chore. In a year filled with innovative hip-hop and R&B releases like Kendrick Lamar’s “Damn.” and Drake’s “More Life,” this album falls short of spectacular.
“The Beautiful and Damned” is now available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music and Soundcloud.