Luke Benjamin is not cool enough to bring back the Jheri curl.
There’s a thin line between revivalism and conscious reinvention, recycled tropes and bending conventions to your will. G Perico takes this line and contorts it three times over, delivering liquid flows with a knowing smirk. Everything is drenched in shades of blue — sometimes it’s closer to turquoise and at other times it’s just short of midnight.
He’ll C-Walk in traffic one second then deliver a matter-of-fact indictment of systemic poverty the next, all while keeping his blue tee unruffled. On his official debut album, All Blue, Perico pirouettes over slinking g-funk, slipping in and out of cadences with requisite ease, conjuring visions of top-down royal Caddies and summer house parties with scarcely enough room to lift your arms above your head. It’s all you can do not to grab an Old E and boogie in low-cut Chucks. To say he’s a born storyteller is an understatement, his vision of South Central is remarkably lucid: Cinéma vérité born from a cauldron of potholed streets, confidants turned informants, and too many relatives rotting in solitary or caskets.
It’s as quintessentially LA as Rodney King and Dre, though it feels oceans away from Silver Lake craft bars. Far too alive and bristling with real-world concerns for that pitiless commercialism located a few increasingly bourgeois miles away. It took fellow Angeleno YG only four years to erase c’s from our collective vocabulary; now Perico is seeking to double them up, as he does in the title of “Bacc Forth” a consensus favorite from his new record All Blue.
“Bacc Forth” whirs along with funky abandon, caught somewhere between nostalgia and timelessness—leaping forward only to step-back once more, pulled by streets that revere his name and music checks that it isn’t written on, yet. Perico lurches from shaking losses to critiques of Reaganomics in a heartbeat, without breaking a sweat or his flow in the process, piling on pressure only to relieve it with sneering levity: “Lately I’ve been going up / Looked at death and started dancing.”
That “Bacc Forth” can be seen as an interpolation of Springsteen’s “One Step Up” speaks to Perico’s incisiveness, trading in old Ford Americana for sun-beaten LA candids—palm trees and firearms stashed in car trunks. This all spools out in a single shot, Perico painting in all the nuances and juxtapositions of contemporary Los Angeles over two and half minutes, taking a figurative step back to get the full panoramic perspective.
Though inevitably we’ll all suffer missteps and changing fortunes, G Perico is primed to take many steps forward for every backward tumble. One of a growing cohort of young Angeleno musicians who are starting to redefine what we mean when we invoke the term “LA hip-hop,” continuing on from DJ Quik and Ice Cube and making an argument for a re-contextualized Golden Age. You can catch all this if you turn your volume up high and squint intently through blue-tinted lenses. If you do, there’s a lot to enjoy about “Bacc Forth” and a wise-beyond-his-years rapper, G Perico.