G Perico’s bark has bite. It’s a high pitched sneer that rings eardrums when played at aggressive volume. That’s the point. Distinctive voices are the first thing to look for in MC’s and Perico has one that captures you immediately. In many ways, Perico’s voice mirrors what he is as an artist: blessed with attributes that sometimes feel like opposites forming together. His It’s sharply distinctive but also harkens back to Eazy-E and DJ Quik. He’s a great gangsta rapper in the LA tradition.
G contains multitudes. The sort of artist with a deep philosophical streak about the streets, but one who also wrote the song ‘I Love Thots.’’ All Blue, his ferocious 2017 album, is one of the best L.A. rap releases of the decade. 2 Tha Left, from the same year, felt like even more of an event without losing the organic, raw, energy that Perico has always had. Despite the features, Perico more than holds his own. He shows he can compete with older MC’s such as Curren$y and peers like Mozzy. ‘
On ’Amerikkka,’’ Perico sounds as furious as he’s ever been about the state of America. There’s Trump talk on it, disses towards Bill Clinton’s contributions to the prison-industrial complex, and smoke for the police. Perico isn’t only focused on Trump. He knows that it goes deeper than him. He’s critiquing America as a whole. It’s real righteous anger. It’s knowing that Trump is the final symptom of this country. It is the best two-album stretch (three, if you count the G-Worthy mixtape) in one year feat since DMX was running New York.
With an an innate ability to make hooks, Perico wastes no time getting to the point. He’s capable of capturing the anger in what is going on around him, but he also has a real reverence for where he comes from. There’s a constant balance that Perico strikes with his despair and his appreciation of his hood. Spoken like a true hustler. Ten Eight is released on Roc Nation. It is the first to be released by the label, in collaboration with his own company, So Way Out.
Ten Eight is just as confessional than his previous albums: He opens with the revelation that he thinks he may need therapy. While ‘’Lil Baby’’ features unabashed sex talk over his heavy funk production. Of course, the album still has tough street talk. Take ‘’Dog Year,” where he celebrates how far he has come since his days on the streets and how much of the streets are still in him. He asks you to look in his face and see if he is as high as he says. He recollects about his friend’s mom passing out over her son’s trial verdict.
While in conversation, Perico sounds eager for the future but also deeply introspective. He looks back with easy recollection and is honest about who he is and where he comes from. I caught up with him over the phone and discussed his musical career, his life on the streets, Nipsey Hussle, what’s next for his career, and the lineage he is trying to create in Los Angeles. — Jayson Buford
Do you see yourself carrying on a lineage of your music and your hustle?
G Perico: Oh yeah. Yeah, hell yeah. No doubt. That’s the whole point of me basically trailblazing so it can go on, and hopefully inspire motherfuckers that’s coming after me. Follow the blueprint or follow my footsteps and take it even further.
There’s an image of Los Angeles that people have in terms of Hollywood and glamour, but it’s not really the image that you and other street MCs have. Do you feel like you have to set the record straight about where you come from, because South Central that’s not what tourists think of when they think of LA.
G Perico: Nah, when they think of LA they think of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the Valley, all that shit. So yeah when you say Los Angeles, yeah I do feel that people definitely need to understand what’s going on with the inner city and how it actually is as opposed to just only the Hollywood shit. That is a part of a LA, but it is a whole culture that’s been going on for the last 50 plus years out here.
How did doing a bid affect your determination in your life and your career? Because you’ve always been a hustler. You’ve always been about the hustle, but what was the mentality you had coming out, and was it different than what you had going in?
G Perico: Yeah, it was much different because getting around people that you know are fucking way more talented than you, smarter than you, move way more aggressive, but they’re never coming home. They locked up forever. So my whole thing was this time I need to leave my mark on the world, the game, people, people’s brains, people’s thoughts, because it’s all these dudes that had promising lives but one mistake cost them, and now the chances of them doing something great in the world is zero to none. So it just turned me up to I got to go. I got to do it. Okay, we got to go. Come on, right now. No wasting time. I really hate to waste time, and just also just not letting people trick me off the street, and not doing dumb shit anymore. Like shit that I have the itch for or shit that I found myself falling in love with like the outlaw mentality, shit like that. I had to change my way of thinking and how I react to certain shit. Just the places I be at.
Like you said it’s all about legacy, lineage. I can’t have my legacy being a nigga that’s just in and out of jail, blowing it every time. So yeah, it just made me realize how serious life in the world is. It’s bigger than just this outlaw shit.
Your music’s political without even thinking about it. It’s not political in terms of, “Oh, I’m trying to make a political record.” It’s just political. You’re just who you are. Are you constantly trying to strike a balance in that? Like a balance of political shit and straight gangster shit or are they both related?
G Perico: It’s related. When you grow up in a fucking street gang that shit is political. It’s like a gang of distant tribes and armies smashed up in this one spot in LA, and if you outside and you active, you learn how to be political. You learn how to be diplomatic. It’s just second nature, because that shit is bigger than just one individual just like politics is. Move up the ranks, understand how shit works. So it’s pretty much second nature for me to be political and to have a voice in what’s going on or just share life on shit that’s going on.
Absolutely. So Ten Eight was supposed to be first of two albums of Roc Nation. What are you trying to accomplish on the next tape? Is there anything different on Ten Eight? Do you feel like you have more to give us?
G Perico: Yeah, I feel like Ten Eight was just more something like a teaser. Of course the sound and the music, just having more fun with it, and the next project is definitely just more into that story telling with the bounce of course. The next project is going to be like a certified complete piece of art. So me just doing my shit having a great time, and we going into the artistic, of course, political bounce. Just a full scale project of some shit that has never been heard from G Perico or actually never really been heard in the rap game yet.
Yeah, I know that you’re working with Terrace Martin, and I read that in fact your uncle knew Terrace Martin. Is your uncle one of your biggest inspirations in terms of music?
G Perico: He’s definitely the person that’s got me into fucking music. So yeah, you could say that. Yeah, I never even thought about that. So growing up in the house, this nigga always had a studio and always had a brick of niggas around rapping and shit.
Yeah, I remember my pops was like that. My pops, yeah he always, his groups of friends, they was always bumping. So it be like that when you grow up with somebody, and that person listening to music. Even if you ain’t in it right now, you finna be in it, you know?
G Perico: Exactly. So it was just like yeah. He brung me on to fucking music, and just learned different shit. Used to take me to the studio with him. Him and Rhythm D back in the day when I was like fucking three, four years old. He used to babysit me and shit. Yeah, it is fucking, yeah. That’s the man right there. I learned a lot of shit from watching him. And yeah, that’s crazy bro. I didn’t ever even think about that. That nigga is my biggest … yep.
You got a song with Nipsey on Slauson Boy 2, it’s called “Basic Instinct.” One of my favorite LA collabs this decade. How did that come about? How did you meet Nip? Did you hear about him before you met him? Did you learn anything from him?
G Perico: Shit, I been knowing Nip for years before the collab, just hanging out, and this was around the time he was working on Victory Lap. So I was right there pretty much the whole time while they was doing Victory Lap. I didn’t even realize that, because I bought two copies of Victory Lap, and my boy showed me that my name is on like the thank yous, the credits and shit. G Perico and Innerprize. I’m like, “Damn, that was dope.”
But yeah, that nigga hit me one day. I don’t remember for what, but I end up coming to the studio in North Hollywood and then I was just coming through like everyday, every other day. “Doing folk? I’m finna pull up.” Just hang out. Just the whole process, just vibing, talking shit, talking about life, family shit, music shit. Owning music shit, because after that whole time of me being around him that’s why I got the blueprint on how to move around the game, because I was trying to figure it out. How to get in, because before that I was just like super super local. Just in South Central, and that’s it.
And after being around him I learned a lot of shit, but we was probably in the studio chilling for like two months. And I wasn’t thirsty, I was just enjoying the experience. If you go back, Nipsey was in one of my first videos, the G Shit video. Yeah, that was at my store. He was sitting in the office, him and, rest in peace. That’s crazy. But yeah, we’d been rocking for a long time. We started actually making music with the same dude, Rare Beats. I call him Tarzan, but he go by Rare Beats. Started making music with the same person, just at different times.
But back to the shit. We was cutting in the studio for about two months straight, and then he played the beat. This was early, this was like 10 in the morning. I pulled up. He was always up early, six in the morning. I pulled up around 10, and Mike & Keys in there delivered the beat, because they studio was across the hall. They bring it in and start playing and I’m like, “Damn. This shit hard.” I said, “What she saying on there?” And he like, “Crenshaw.” I said, “Well I know this nigga ain’t finna ask me to rap on this. Right before he went in he like, “G put a verse on this.” I’m like, “Oh shit.” Caught me off guard. So I’m like, “All right. Cool.” So by the time he finished, because he punch. He won’t write shit, just go in and punch. So this was like the first time, because I don’t write no more either, I just write it in my head, and this like the first fucking time that I … This when I started not writing. Niggas these niggas was coming off the top of the dome. “Nigga you trying to sit right here and try to write nigga, for an hour something.” So I’m like all right, boom. He was saying that so many times. I’m like all right cool, boom boom boom.
So by the time he got out I had probably about half of the verse in my head. So it probably took me about 10, 15 more minutes to get the rest. I go in. He like, “Ready?” I’m like, “Yeah, nigga.” I go in, boom, because it’s like I got to show out right now. He inspired me like a motherfucker. So I go in and gas it. It was probably like one or two sets, and it was done. He was like, “I’m a get this nigga Big Mel on this shit.” I don’t know what happened with that, but that following Monday or Tuesday, it was one of them where he was dropping music every week and shit, that following Monday he dropped it, and after that that was really my intro into outside of the local shit. That was my intro into different streaming platforms, different people interested in the shit I got to say.
So you was on the streets for basically your whole life? There’s a sense of despair that comes with that right? Were you ever in a period in your life where you thought that you might be there forever?
G Perico: Yeah. Shit all the way up until recently. My whole frame of mind was … Because my allegiance to the gang and to the street was super deep. All my friends is super active legendary gangster niggas. So this was who all I was around, and it’s the same shit like with Nip verse, like nigga I got to show up to the occasion just like everybody else. So that was my attitude in the streets. And one of my homies, he smoked out on drugs crazy right now, and I adopted the saying from him. “Nigga I’ma die right here nigga. Nigga whatever’s cracking, I’m right here nigga.” So that was pretty much my mind frame, and the way nigga’s was dying and getting killed and life, it was like, “Shit, that’s what it is.” I’ma go out as a legend.
So yeah that was pretty much my attitude all the way up until things shifted on me. All this shit it wasn’t really planned, it just happened, because my whole plan was to just be a ghetto superstar and just go out like that, but the last time I went to jail everything just changed so fucking drastically. The whole shit changed. So I kind of was forced to find a new passion, which was the music, and I didn’t even think it would go this far. So I got a new passion which is the music, and I’m trying to take that be a fucking musical legend, icon, rap star now. But for a long period of time it was just like the hood. That’s it. Nigga I’m a get a gang of money. We could take trips and bust moves and shit, but I’m coming right back to the soil with the shit, but now it’s like, “Man, let me be legendary for the world as opposed to just the hood.”
Has being a father also helped you change your mind set a little bit?
G Perico: Yeah, because everything happened around the same time. Everything in like a 24-month period, everything just changed. I got a kid, the streets not shit to me no more. My whole core foundation, everything I believed in, what I was down to die for, that shit … I was like, “The fuck is this?” I thought it wasn’t ever going to change, and I used to look at older cats in my hood like, “Damn, how this nigga just leave?” And now I get it. This is just the evolution of life. So yeah, having a kid that was a big factor. Niggas getting killed, life. Just all the treachery just taking place. Yeah, all that shit man.
So your rapping style is a little bit different than the way you talk. Where did the high-pitch rapping style kind of come from? On All Blue I think it’s probably the best example of that throughout that record.
G Perico: I did that shit at a fucking … We was renting this big ass house. Holly Boi had the first story, my homie Little Ann had the second, and I had the third bottom floor, and we was just having a fucking great time right there for about six months. Just partying and rapping. It was cracking, but the high pitch shit came from my granny. She had one of her friends, this nigga name was Vick, and he did music and shit. He was a producer, but it never really went nowhere, but he was a real talented dude. I don’t know what was the problem or anything from him not being huge, but when I was about 16 I got out of jail and my granny was like, “Can you go over here and fuck with Vick?” And she had him hitting me and shit, so I’m like, “All right. I’m a do these …” Like I really just wanted to be in the hood. So they used to pick me up from the spot, from the spot, nigga — like two times a week, and I’d be in the studio all night just working on vocals and shit. And this nigga used to have me on the mic like, “Nigga this where your pitch need to be.” He used to play like Too Short and then pitched my voice up.
Because nobody rapping like that in the game right now. You really the only one who got that type of distinct sounding voice like that.
G Perico: So that’s what he was just having me practice back to back to back to back to back to back. So that’s pretty much where I got that from, and then I fell off of it, and then when I fell back into it naturally those pieces just came straight back to me. So that’s really where that came from, my boy Vick. Nigga from Compton, like Campanella hood.
So I’m going to ask you a question about your hair. Your hairstyle’s infamous right? It’s a classic style, especially for people like us. People from the streets. Was that something that you consciously did or were you just one day like, “Yeah, this is going to look dope on me. I’m just going to do this?”
G Perico: That’s what it was. I’m like, nigga I look … I used to always had the little curly top and shit or the curly taper fade, but then I’m like, “Nigga I’m about to let my shit go,” when I first started rapping, but then I went to jail. I’m like, “Man I’m about to just let my shit get long. Fuck it.” And that’s where that came from, and when I went to jail I got maced real bad so I cut my hair off and shit, and I had to get back to it. But that was pretty much like a conscious, strategic, and natural move at the same time. It was like some shit I planned. Some shit I was going to naturally do.
So if you don’t want to answer this you don’t got to, but jail is a lot of honestly torture psychologically, right?
G Perico: Right.
How did you maintain your mind in that? I remember there’s a Nas line, “maintain your mind. I know you’re doing hard time. I hate it when your mom cries.” How did you maintain your being when you was in there?
G Perico: It’s like this, I ain’t going to say I grew up going to jail, but I was in and out of jail a lot. So jail wasn’t really shit. In prison it’s the same niggas I was in juvenile hall with except they got a gang of time and I don’t. So for me it’s like, “All these niggas, G you short. I got 50 something years. I got a hundred years. I got 80 years.” So my whole shit was like, “Damn, it’s really these other niggas that’s fucked up. Like nigga you stuck forever.” I was just reading books and strategizing and working out to pass time. Getting into a gang of mischievous shit in jail. Still same shit nigga. We in there smoking, I didn’t really drink, we fucking selling weed, pills, all type of shit. Just in the shit. So the time went by, I wasn’t sitting there stressing about it like, “Damn. Fuck, I’m in jail.” And then I was already mentally prepared, because both times I went to the pen I was out on bail fighting the cases for a year, year plus.
So I was pretty much already prepared. All my money and shit was in order so it wasn’t really difficult for me. I had it pretty easy.
South Central’s kind of underrated I feel like. I feel like everybody talking about other towns, other hoods, Compton, Long Beach. I feel like South Central don’t really get talked about a lot. How do you feel like now you the main rep? How does that make you feel?
G Perico: That’s definitely a fact. Everybody, Snoop Dogg, Long Beach, end up with the Compton gang. They got like a rich music history, and then when Ice Cube came out he was hollering Compton, but he was really from South Central. So yeah, I definitely do feel like it’s underrated, but that’s why I’m pressing so hard. I’m about to corner the market and make sure South Central rises to the top, because all these … No shots at anybody, but everybody in LA county gets they fucking style from South Central period. So South Central.
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