G-Eazy hasn’t arrived. And if he has arrived, he won’t admit it. The idea doesn’t sit well with the Oakland-bred hip-hop artist who has had back-to-back gold albums in the past three years.

“I’m still not where I want to be,” G-Eazy said during a recent phone interview from his car, while he was traveling from Lake Tahoe to the Bay Area after a rare, three-day phone-free break with his mother. “I get scared of saying that. Where I want to be is in a continuous place of progress. Always moving forward, never finding comfort or plateau. I think it’s important to constantly push yourself.”

And so he’s always in motion. Case in point: The artist, born Gerald Gillum, plays the University of Minnesota Duluth’s spring concert Friday evening at Amsoil Arena. But the show’s start time had to be bumped ahead a few hours to 5 p.m., so G-Eazy could make an I Heart Radio commitment later in the evening in Los Angeles, according to Jeff Arnovich of Twin Ports Nightlife, who worked with UMD’s Kirby Program Board to arrange the concert.

The G-Eazy performance is a private show for students enrolled at local colleges. Attendance was capped at 5,000, and it sold out quickly. Also on the bill: Nef the Pharaoh, Marty Grimes and Daghe.

DIY roots

G-Eazy started eyeing the music biz when he was in high school and studied the production side when he was a student at Loyola University in New Orleans. A decade ago, he imagined making it would mean getting signed by a major label, he said. At some point, he realized he had to make it happen himself.

“There were years when I was making songs and uploading them to MySpace, refreshing my page and trying to get the word out,” he said. “That’s all you dream about is having an audience, having the opportunity to say something. The fact that people are listening means a lot.”

In the past five years, G-Eazy has shared a stage with Drake, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz and T.I. He’s played the festival circuit including Lollapalooza and the Vans Warped Tour, and performed internationally.

“It’s all about working in this music industry,” he said. “There’s no cheat code. There is no sure-fire way to succeed. I’ll never knock anybody who makes it anywhere in music. It’s one of the hardest industries to break into - being consistent and saying something people connect with.”

‘Me, Myself and I’

G-Eazy’s Facebook page is a collection of black and white photographs that match his classic and clean old-school James Dean-ian look: jeans and a dark T-shirt, slicked hair, pensive looks at the horizon. He claims an eclectic mix of influences: Johnny Cash, Dr. Dre, Eminem, the Beatles, Tupac Shakur, Bob Dylan, Radiohead. Some came from his mother, some from friends, others from his own discoveries.

“That’s my upbringing,” he said. “The Bay Area is a melting pot. I grew up surrounded by many, many cultures. My taste is not confined to an era or genre. As a producer and as a writer, I hear music a little differently. It’s not like I’m distracted by who is saying it or what genre it’s coming from. I hear structure, melody, subject matter. You can draw inspiration, wherever it comes from.”

G-Eazy’s first mainstream studio album, “These Things Happen,” debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 in 2014. Pitchfork gave it a gentle nod and said it showed promise.

“His new album is well-crafted and considered,” the reviewer wrote alongside a 6.1 rating. “He seems unafraid to wrestle with mature ideas - about himself or the sobering realization that living a dream is no exemption from life’s daily indignities.”

His follow-up, “When it’s Dark Out,” was released in December 2015 and offered a new creative experience. He collaborated with Kehlani, Grace, Big Sean and others on the album.  

“I worked with a lot of different people,” he said. “When you challenge yourself to go in a room, in a space and work with strangers, accomplished strangers, talented strangers, you’re forced to rise to the occasion. To prove why you’re there and to make the most of the opportunity. Different people pull different things out of you.”

Billboard called it “a vast leap forward: his cadences are more agile, his boasts more boastful, his guest list tighter.”

In the album’s premiere video, “Me, Myself and I,” G-Eazy has returned from time on the road and just wants to spend time with his girlfriend, but she’s planned a birthday party. He wanders the crowd, looking for a place to be alone.

Ultimately, he ends up arguing with various versions of himself in the bathroom mirror. His topic is one celebrities have wrestled with for the ages: What happens when your hard work yields fame?