It would be far too easy to call G-Eazy‘s The Endless Summer a “mixtape”, as the term has become a quick and dirty shorthand for any sample-laced internet-only hip hop release of the last ten years. The latest from this New Orleans-based, Bay Area-bred MC does ostensibly fit the bill: Despite a somewhat unique inclination towards 50s and 6os rock and soul, the album is effectively the work of a buzzworthy blog rapper rapping over quirky beats borrowed from the canons of blogged-about buzzbands. But the pristine and conscientious production of The Endless Summer – in both the traditional music recording sense of the term as well as its hip hop specific beatmaking definition – fiercely eschews classification as a standard issue “mixtape”.
The eponymous album opener as well as its lead single, “Runaround Sue”, are quick to put a fine point on this important distinction, as both showcase G-Eazy’s compositional propensity to elevate the songs on The Endless Summer beyond each’s well-picked loops. The source material is easily recognizable (especially the case for the latter), but the vintage pop of The Beach Boys and Dion is cradled in booming low-end, and local vocal talent is tapped to supplement Eazy’s laid back flow with freshly written and well-performed choruses. The beautiful “All I Can Do” similarly transcends the “mixtape” paradigm, as the portion of the track borrowed from LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yrslf Clean” sits comfortably among American Idol-alum Devon Baldwin‘s sultry voice and NYC alt-rapper Skizzy Mars‘ playful boasts.
And as was the case on G-Easy’s March offering The Outsider (on which Caddywhompus‘ “But Not Before A Show” served as the backbone for the standout “You Were Up To Something”), the assist on The Endless Summer‘s high point again goes to a brilliant sample deftly plucked from New Orleans’ own indie-rock movement. In a true masterstroke of creativity and sardonic wit, the infectious “Make-Up Sex” is built atop the bouncy chorus of Generationals’ “When They Fight, They Fight”, with G-Eazy replacing the polite innuendo of the original with the good-natured but frank earnestness that defines most of The Endless Summer‘s choicest cuts.
The Endless Summer is not without its momentary missteps however, as the topical pleasure of Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks” proved too alluring for even G-Eazy’s otherwise admirable discretion. But an occasional odd track that doesn’t quite pass the high bar set by the album’s shining moments does little to stop the impressive momentum of G-Eazy’s consistent, clever and sharp new set.