“It’s My First Instinct to Be Radical”: An Interview With G Perico

Steven Louis speaks to G Perico about his new Gangsta Grillz mixtape, being a good driver, his relationship with the late Nipsey Hussle & more.
By    June 29, 2023

Image via Estevan Oriol

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Steven Louis slides through the side of town that they scared of.

“Lights, camera, action, since 2019 been established.” The biggest flex on “Action,” lead single from G Perico’s Hot Shot mixtape, has nothing to do with the paparazzi shutters and iconoclastic shouts from DJ Drama. It’s the fact that by Perico’s account, 2019 is when things started popping off for him. The past three-plus cyphers around the sun have brought such unfathomable strangeness and cruel banality to the city and county of Los Angeles. A pandemic forced us inside and f*cked with our money. The 405 exploded in flames. Nipsey, Kobe and Drakeo died here in successive years. There are feds at City Hall and construction scaffolds at Chinese Friends. How is G Perico leveling up when so much around here is falling off or turning outright awful?

Fully locking in looks good on Perico. He’s running his own streetwear line, acting in movies and just completed a nationwide tour. He’s hearing his Innerprize Clicc hoarsely celebrated by the mixtape voice of an entire generation, as he cruises in something old school. The diamonds are dancing, the boxing spot on 108th is legally in his name, the kids on Broadway have new backpacks and school supplies. Hot Shot, both the Gangsta Grillz release and the live performance, sees Perico in red carpet mode. And it’s not just Drama’s hype work that makes the music feel a bit bigger. “Action” drops its listener into cornflower-blue club lighting, saxophonist in house, and bottles on ice. The stadium-sized bass drop on “Ask G4” is capable of totaling whips, plural. The man’s pulling up in a German SUV, getting a fit off while grinning, “this Glock 40 it go with whatever.” Next up, he says, is the aptly-titled LA Summers 3, closing out a triptych that began in 2021. “That whole sound was an experiment. It started as an idea, we made it a reality, and the rest is history,” platinum producer GotDamnitDupri says.

G Perico’s flow and vocal cadence may contain traces of Eazy E and DJ Quik, but he’s more cosmically understood as the South Central Curren$y: joyously independent and remarkably consistent in output, working with a small cadre of lush producers and cultivating a slow-build fan base that doesn’t know him for any one singular tape. Still, Perico’s recent run begs a different, more stringent comparison: with borderline-uncomfortable bleeding-edge candor that never feels extra, he might be LA’s Boosie. The writing spares nothing and the rapping is aggressively straightforward.

Since 2019, Perico really has been deeply confessional, laying everything out in lyrics that carry a deceptive weight. When considering today’s most honest writers, the conversation often rewards brashness: think Lil Durk or Kevin Gates getting excruciatingly specific on what they do in the bedroom, or YoungBoy letting multiple personalities bounce off solitary studio walls. Can’t it be simple? Perico isn’t doing anything wild or humiliating, but he’s very much naming specific cross streets and riding for specific folks that have been stolen by the system.

Perico emerges from tinted windows wearing black and blue Jordans, ripped denim and a GxFR hoodie that imagines Lisa Simpson as a FlyGoddess. He daps up the Innerprize Clicc and moves around his store more like a general manager than a star point guard, fitting not only for his collectivist mindset but for his forthcoming celebrity coach appearance at a citywide pro-am basketball tournament. With a tour in the books and more product already rolling out, Perico admits he’s in an exceedingly good mood these days.

“People are relating to him right now because he’s so authentically who he is,” says Hot Shot collaborator, Innerprize EP and tour DJ Steelz. “He’s someone the everyday person can read. He’s in the streets, his music touches people, but he doesn’t act like he’s too cool or too Hollywood for anyone.”

​​(This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.)

What’s going on, G? How was the Hot Shot tour?

G Perico: I’m great, man. I’m fantastic. [Laughing] The pH of my water is 9.59! Tour was cracking. Some cities that surprised me were Atlanta, D.C., Seattle and Denver, they went crazy. But the whole shit was cracking, it was a good time and all a blur. When I’m touring, I’m prepared. I’m executing at a higher scale and grinding more. It’s very regimented, but at the same time, I feel free because I just do whatever I want all day. I’m recording on the road, still enjoying myself, and The Clicc is still watching the fights and the NBA playoffs and all that shit.

“Still Independent,” you said, “keep going strong, stay true to the process.” Is this what that looks and feels like?

G Perico: It is, but at the same time, it’s not enough. There’s definitely a bigger picture and so many levels to this shit, especially if you plan to be here for a while. What I meant by that line is just believing your shit is a thing that could materialize, whatever the vision is. I still don’t have time to be sharing my energy in every direction, I’m still looking to be the boss.

For someone our age, having a Gangsta Grillz mixtape must be surreal, like a bucket-list checkoff.

G Perico: Yeah, it’s crazy. Just the way everything is moving, it hasn’t set in yet. It’s really unbelievable, remembering Drama with all these huge artists doing their thing, like Jeezy and Wayne back in the day. It’s a f*cking dream that don’t seem real, being a part of that brand and getting embraced by all them.

What would the young Perico think of this Gangsta Grillz tape?

G Perico: That’s a good question because I mean, honestly, the younger me would’ve been like “f*ck no!” I was on a totally different type of time. I was on some GANGSTA GANGSTA GANGSTA shit. It would’ve translated, though, like, you done grew into a boss, you done grew into a THING out here, I think that would come through in this music.

“German Engineering,” you said, “wish I never did time, cuz I’d be up $50 million by now!” You’re a smooth rapper but I felt rage in that line.

G Perico: Oh yeah. We gotta make up for lost time. The portfolio was definitely expanding then, but putting the effort into the vision is how we got there in the first place, you know what I mean? It’s like, you gotta be able to do that again. I’ve never felt more confident in my life that I’m gonna be right there. I learned finances at a young age for sure, but it wasn’t directed in the right angle. My entrepreneurial spirit was really going down a no-win road. I was crazy enough to go down that when I was young. Now, I’m crazy enough to know I could really make this happen, on my own terms and however the f*ck I want it.

“Action,” you rapped about bible verses on your ribs. What do you have and what’s the significance?

G Perico: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” The significance of that is just, it’s a trap everywhere. Every single corner you turn, even in your own house when you in the ghetto. You might wake up to a load of traps, that’s something super real for me.

The South Central mixtape intro starts with a roll call for the whole Clicc. What do you think about the fact that people all around America, across the world even, know the names of your homies that we’ve obviously never met? Anyone who listens to your music is familiar with the characters: G Slim, G4, K Swiss…

G Perico: That is totally on purpose. I’m like the sacrificial lamb, but in a much better way, you know what I’m saying? G Slim got a 160-year sentence, he still has 140 to freedom. For everybody I know that’s getting out, this could be something of a platform to work off, as opposed to me handing them shit and they still end up back in jail. This is my way of giving them some shit that got life in it. I grew up with roaches all through the f*cking house. So, creating these opportunities is definitely in my job description.

“Location” plays out like a heist film. I know people say stuff like “it’s a movie” to exhaustion, but that song really is a scene in a mob movie.

G Perico: Oh yeah. I wanna go to Venice and shit like that for the film festivals. Cinematically, I’ve always felt like a mix of James Bond, Crocodile Dundee, Tookie Williams and Whitey, not Whitey Bulger but Whitey Enterprises from South Central, hah. I’m in a movie that comes out next month, independent and pretty dope. It’s about South LA, the politics and everything.

Which LA movie characters would you be rolling with in real life?

G Perico: I’d be flying with Caine Lawson, know what I’m saying? Gotta have O-Dog too. And probably gotta have someone like Tre from Boyz In the Hood, a square dude that can kick some sense into the scenario.

“Gossip,” you said, “the average Black family’s net worth is zero dollars.”

G Perico: Believe that. It’s actually $15,000, but here that’s zero. It’s to the point where I woke up one day thinking I wanna move and all that shit. But damn, where is the Black community in LA? It really ain’t one, you know what I mean? Nobody want to live by each other, nobody want to spend money with each other. We need togetherness and group economics. Every other community thrives in group economics, motherf*ckers not scared to be together. Not us, and I’m so used to it. I got bulletproof skin most of the time, bulletproof ears. But in the community I come from, you’ll be with someone and think it’s all love. Then as soon as you step out, they barbecuing you, crucifying you. It’s crazy, but it’s very much part of the culture.

“10 Digits,” when you go, “on the 110 South and I’m switching four lanes…,” to be honest, that imagery scares me as much as anything in your discography.

G Perico: [Laughing] man, I’m a pretty good driver. Well, I’m OK. I’ve had my fair share of accidents. I just crashed the dream car, an ‘87 Monte Carlo coup. Just got it and then I totalled it, damn. Dream crushed. Well, I’ve got a few dream cars. I’m kinda like Jay Leno, really interested in the old school shit.

”Gangsters Anonymous,” you said you “jump up and Crip walk when Westbrook scores.” Any Lakers thoughts now that the season is over?

G Perico: I hope we bring back D’Angelo Russell, that’s my guy. We know Bron ain’t retiring, so I think the Lake Show has a shot at the championship next year. That being said, getting swept hurt, dawg, especially on the road. We saw those games while in Fresno, Sacramento, all cities out West, so it definitely hurt.

On that same song, you ask, “why’s it a crime to protect me and mines?”

G Perico: Right? It really don’t make no sense. I mean, this is a prison state though. Locking us up gets them a lot of money, and a chunk of that money pays the politicians, the judges, all these motherf*ckers. Naturally, they take everything in minority communities and make it illegal. We aren’t even minorities no more, but still, we get looked at like minorities in so many different ways. They’ve demonized us just to lock us up and make money off that. Like, G Slim got 160 years for some f*cking burglaries, while motherf*ckers are killing people. It’s just poverty by design. The judge that presided over G Slim’s case lives on the street where they said the crime happened. Conflicts of interest everywhere. It’s still in the appeal process, and it’s so f*cked up. He got a buck 60, but the woman who killed Latasha Harlins got probation, and she walked out of the store to blow her down! Everything is a crime for us. The laws can come get us for just listening to a story that someone’s kicking to you. It’s crazy.

“Babylon,” you said, “If I’m a disciple then Jesus must be Nipsey.” Can you tell me about your relationship with Tha Great? In particular, what do you remember from recording “Basic Instinct” together?

G Perico: I had been hanging out over there for like a month or two before we ever recorded, just sliding through, pulling up at like 8 in the morning and chillin’ until like 9 or 10 at night. One morning, Mike & Keys had the beat playing and I sat with it for a minute, popping some shit. Nip got the beat, and he’s hearing that lady say “Crenshaw” in the vocal sample. So I’m thinking, shit, let me get back to what I’m doing, because I know he ain’t gonna tell me to rap on this. I’m from the East Side, you know what I mean? But he tapped my knee before he went to the booth and said “put some shit on this.” And that’s how it came about. He wasn’t writing back then, but I still was, and I got rid of the pad and pencil that day.

Moving to Tango, you talk about making “a billion out of cotton” through the Blue T Shirt brand on “Hurricane.” Is it weird for you to see people buying the product and culture your neighborhood produces by necessity? Do you trip on unaffiliated folks thinking Crippin’ is cool?

G Perico: The culture that I come from, I never expected it to go as far as it’s gone. It’s a f*cking shirt that’s swept across the whole world. I ain’t mad that it’s fashionable now, I know it’s a lot of people mad at it or jealous about it. I felt the same pains as everyone else in this and made a lot of sacrifices for it. As a kid, I wasn’t even thinking about fashion. I was just trying to get noticed and make statements. We couldn’t wear red, red was taboo. Now, here’s a red Blue T Shirt.

“Crossroads,” I was struck by, “I know it’s people bout to say f*ck that/but on the real I think we need to bring Trump back.” Can you expand on what you meant?

G Perico: That was just venting for people in the hood, they understood what I was saying, they know what it is. I wasn’t endorsing anyone because I don’t really tune into that shit. Trump is a dick and an asshole and a bigot. I was just saying, he’s the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t. When I was speaking on the lack of Black community earlier, a lot of that is because of the 1994 crime bill. Joe Biden was passing those laws, trying to get us off the streets by any means necessary, so I was just frustrated by them doing the hard-on-crime shit and then turning around, like, “you ain’t Black if you don’t vote for us!”

On Play 2 Win, we have to acknowledge that you and Greedo and BlueBucks had the “I’m too sexy” flip before Drake and Future did.

G Perico: F*ck, that shit was so big. I might have to bring that shit back. We definitely got ours out weeks before theirs, but that overshadowed our joint. Maybe it’s time for Drake to be on that remix. It’s time to tap in. This LA culture is real influential, but it’s almost like everyone else knows how to max it out and commercialize it.

“LA Summer, gotta keep a thumper.” As the arbiter of LA Summer, can you tell me what it looks like, smells like, tastes like? Is the entertainment budget really doubling every summer? If so, can I get in on that?

G Perico: [Laughing] First of all, let me say here that part three is coming. On the West! That’s gonna be the last one though, trilogy and we out. Now, what does LA Summer feel like? It’s hot. Big cars out, sun shining off ‘em. A lot of physical movement and motion. Beautiful women outside, gang activity on high on the dark side of it. A lot of these dudes is out of school with nothing to do but kick up dust. This gang shit is a youthful sport, so it really picks up in the summer. It’s just like everything’s on 10, from the parties to the lifestyle. Everybody trying to get money. Hood functions are loud and public.

What does the Innerprize family barbecue entail?

G Perico: Brisket. That’s a little different, but lots of brisket. I love that shit. A gang of females, a lot of liquor, something for the kids to do. When I was young, it was water fights. When I got a lil older, it was dominos. But we’d be all about the activities, when we go live it’s full scale.

The end of “Sunday Night” on Welcome to the Land always gets me. The guy talking about how to tell where ladies out here are from: Northeast LA, HP, Watts, South Central, Vermont, Western, Inglewood, Culver City even makes an appearance! So at the barbecue, I gotta ask, where are the ideal L.A. women coming from?

G Perico: West Side!

Hey, that’s where I live.

G Perico: [Laughing] Hamilton, Fairfax, Uni, Westchester, Palisades, that’s what we looking for. I’m from where it’s tricky with that stuff. They look good, but it ain’t cute, you know what I mean? It can be hard to trust a big butt and a smile, and there’s plenty of ‘em around.

You talk about time moving so slowly when you’re trapped on “Dog Year,” which was one of my first favorites from you. This may sound like a stoner question, but does time move any differently now that you’re in a different position?

G Perico: Nah, that’s a good question. Bro, time moves fast as shit now. Time was slow when I was in the streets and trying to transition to a real future. Whatever I’ve been doing, I’ve always done it to the fullest. I never been doing no shit halfway, unless I was like, sitting in prison. Even in prison, I didn’t want to be there but I still figured out a f*cking way to make that work for me. Time really was slow just in the transition from who I was to who I am now. That shit was uncomfortable, but I loved it. I like reminiscing, but what I do is steal pieces of memories or situations and put that in front of me. I take pieces from both back in the day and recent life for inspiration, but I never just stay there. I mix everything up in a pot to move forward and inform, rather than being stuck and regretting shit. The last thing I want to do now is be stagnant or go backward. Because then I would be doing a different kind of reminiscing.

“Ten-Eight and Broadway, folks tried to murder me there.” To hear that, and then hear you proudly repping those same blocks and that same hood…how do you explain that to people who can’t fathom it?

G Perico: Shit, I’m always drawn back for whatever reason, you know what I mean? I just see gold, I still see gold in this place from different angles. At first it was for criminal shit. Now it’s legit business opportunities. I’m stuck in a good way now. It’s my duty to come around and show what’s possible. I got to motivate the area. I think about it all the time, bro, I’m doing alien shit for where I come from. In the real world, there are all these things you’re supposed to do and all these paths to take. I crossed over to the real world and y’all still can’t touch me with that shit. I do trip about it, like, why me? There must be an angel on my shoulder, believe that, because the paths here are mostly dead-ends, early demises, 100-year sentences. So it’s my duty to motivate.

We’ve gone all the way back to 2019, fully established. Now, where are you headed? What’s next?

G Perico: I wanna go overseas. I’m thinking about getting a spot overseas. I spend a lot of time in different cities and states , but I wanna have a spot I can really duck out to for a month or two at a time. I’ve never taken a real vacation, prison was my vacation and my college. But more than anything now, I wanna be extremely successful with the people I already work with. Dupri, Trey, Tiesto, Kit, everyone. There’s still culture out here from where we come from. We’re not trying to grab anybody else’s shit. We’re gonna push our own envelope and add something new. We’re trying to leave our fingerprints in the motherf*cking hall of fame. And it’s gonna stay independent, man. I got a problem with authority, I don’t want to explain to 10 motherf*ckers why my shit is the shit. I’m grown, and all my life I’ve been living radical, they said everything we did was “against the rules.” Now, it’s my first instinct to be radical.

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