Objectivity is the biggest myth in music. I always laugh when someone accuses me of writing subjectively, or of being biased. As if there's some other way to write. This isn't math, this is music. Every time you press play, you bring an entire life's worth of experiences and tastes with you. Is Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You" objectively, scientifically, the great ballad of all-time? I don't even know what that would mean. But I can tell you I touched Valerie's boobs at our 8th-grade dance while that song was playing*, and so I will always love Boyz II Men more than any other R&B group.
Of course, that subjectivity has limits. We all agree that eating dirt is fundamentally disgusting, and I have yet to meet a living human being who didn't enjoy a well-made chocolate cake. Ice JJ Fish can't sing, D'Angelo can. Those are as close to facts as we'll get in music. But in between is a whole lot of subjectivity, and while I could hide behind that myth of objectivity, like most of my music critic brethren and sistren, that'd be a lie. And I think the only way to truly talk about music is to embrace our biases head on, put them out in the open.
All of that was a very long-winded way of saying that I don't particularly enjoy G-Eazy's new album, These Things Happen, and the reasons why are exactly the reasons why I'm sure other people will love it. As he said of the album, "I wrote most of the album on tour. And every single night, even when we would say 'Yo, let's chill tonight', end up drinking into oblivion, all is lost, bottle get emptied, you wake up the next day like what the hell happened last night? And it's just a nonchalant, Kanye shrug—these things happen."
Last night I did not empty out bottles with models. Last night my daughter scolded me for talking while she was trying to watch Frozen. Like everyone, I'm looking for music that reflects some part of my life, or what I might want my life to be, and so frankly there's not much for me on These Things Happen. But if you're 19 right now? Trying to live each day like it's your last? Fighting off hangovers with more beer and shuddering at the prospect of one day being forced to watch Frozen over and over again? Then there's a pretty good chance G-Eazy's got your anthem on this album.
That doesn't mean I'm completely immune to the appeals of this album—there is something universal about a melody and a catchy beat. Which is why even though G-Eazy might stereotypically get clumped into the "frat rap" crowd, the closer comparison by far is Drake. The same way Drake manages to get aggressive without losing some of the more relaxed charisma that makes him so popular on a song like "Worst Behavior"? That's exactly the kind of aggression we get from G-Eazy on "I Mean It," a song that allows him to show a harder side without slipping into tough guy parody. The same way Drake can rap about balling out in the strip club on one song, and then two songs later sing about the loneliness that comes once the party's over and he's alone again? That's exactly the duality Eazy is trying to strike when he just outrights bangs on a song like "Lotta That" and then raps about the aftermath of a relationship forged during one of those late night parties on a song like "Downtown Love."
Now I don't want to push the Drake comparisons too far—the music itself doesn't sound particularly alike, and I'm not saying he's biting Drizzy's style—but I do hear in These Things Happen the same balance of boasting and regret, women chasing and heartbreak. And when you're young, isn't that life? Just like "Far Alone," aren't you constantly being told by those older than you that you'll never make it going your own way, that you have to follow the path they laid down? And then don't you fantasize about rubbing your success in the face of those doubted you, just like on a song like "Been On"? Just like "Tumblr Girls," aren't you spending time each day staring at beautiful girls on the screen, dreaming of the day those women cross the digital divide into your life? Yes, yes and yes.
At this point in my life, personally, I need more from my music. I need my music to say something about where I've been and where I'm going, while These Things Happen lives decidedly at the moment. The only horizon it sees is the next night's party, and I'm not going to be that old guy trying way too hard at the college party, pretending to still relate. Objectively speaking, there is no objectively speaking. But subjectively speaking, while I can't see myself revisiting These Things Happen, it's not hard to see it as the kind of album that will one day be looked back on by a certain generation as "the only album I played during that one awesome summer in '14."
It's neither my fault or G-Eazy's fault, really, that I don't dig this album more. There is no "fault." Sometimes, if we're really being honest, these things just happen.
* In retrospect, how crazy was it that teachers let us play I'll Make Love to You at an 8th grade dance? I can only assume they weren't really paying attention.