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Interview with G Perico: ‘Motivational, Gangster, Ratchet as a Motherf*cker, Hood Rat, Nasty, Conscious’

[dropcap size=big]L[/dropcap]ast month at the Roxy, to close out the final show of a grueling tour, L.A. gangster rapper G Perico performed a song titled, “I Love Thots,” twice. It’s not that “I Love Thots” is a bad song, but it’s not the anthemic closer many of his other tracks (“Everybody,” “Affiliated,” “Turning Corners”) are; it’s a song in which Perico’s habit of leaving his socks on during sexual congress is one of the central themes, and he had literally just played it. But the song wasn’t for us. The press weren’t a part of the crowd. We were not onstage. And we do not possess the same level of awareness as G Perico.

People were climbing up onstage by the score, dancing, smiling, and rapping along as Perico bounded between the monitors on his reprise. It was the show’s most memorable moment. But more than that, it was a moment indicative of why 2017 saw G Perico hurtle out of the ranks of Angeleno rappers on the back of his ebullient breed of G Funk to become one of the city’s preeminent artists. He is — almost supernaturally — aware.

“I think that’s probably somewhere a lot of people might have went wrong at. Not being aware.” G and I are sitting in his studio in Burbank. It’s just past noon and he has a full day and night of writing and recording ahead of him — by his estimation, something like ten to twelve hours of work. He’s wearing at least six figures worth of diamonds and eating peanut M&M’s and trying to explain to me how he’s only recently begun building a rap career, never having considered perusing one as a youth.

Living out the platinum-plated dreams shared by many of his fellow members of South Central’s Broadway Gangster Crips, he’d been too busy to give it much thought.

“It popped up on me so many times. Maybe the signs was there and I was just too stupid to realize the shit back then,” he says. “The music shit just kept popping up around me … Producers were sleeping on my couch at my granny’s house and shit! But it really wasn’t my interest. The gangsters were sleeping on my couch too. That was my thing. I’m finally doing [music] now because I see what it can be. But people [I know] were just living and breathing it and nothing happened, nothing happened, nothing happened. ... And then it just happened for me.”

It’s not too hard to see how from Perico’s perspective things appear to have serendipitously aligned for him, when compared to the dedicated heads he alludes to. To hear him tell it, his transition from full-time gangster to critically acclaimed musician was more a matter of necessity (providing for his daughter in way that was unlikely to put iron bars between them) than longstanding ambition. But in saying that this “just happened,” he isn’t giving himself nearly enough credit.

If G Perico didn’t pursue rap obsessively for the majority of his life, he’s certainly making up for lost time. In the last calendar year alone he released three full-length albums (All Blue, G-Worthy, and 2 Tha Left). And as far as passion for the rap game is concerned, while he may not have felt its burn growing up, it’s impossible to deem a man who once played an entire show while bleeding freely from the fresh gunshot wound in his hip wanting in the passion department.

Never one to sit on his laurels, when asked how it feels to have just dropped the same number of records in one year as some rappers drop in five, he responds:

“It feels like I need to work harder. You get certain stuff done and you get an opportunity to open up to the world a little more. So of course your mind’s gonna expand on the type of thing you’re gonna do. You just realize how — not easy — but how accessible what you wanna make happen [can be]. I’m probably a million times more inspired than I was last year. I can see the endless possibilities. I actually believe. I always believed in [my career], but it’s a different feeling [now]. I’m ready to go. I’m all the way in. I’m locked in.”

True to his word, the dry-erase board behind him is packed with the coalescing track lists of two full lengths and an E.P., all of which he hopes to have completed and released before the year is out. But more than just churning out songs, G’s insatiable work ethic extends to all facets of his chosen path. Not yet a full fledged producer or engineer, he reads books about sampling and referencing, hoping to eliminate all the middle men that line the path from idea to internet sensation.

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]nd this is where G’s awareness truly sets him apart. Having achieved his level of success, many rappers might see such an ascent as an invitation to arrogance. But G Perico is aware that he can improve. He’s aware that there are ways to streamline. His awareness runs deep.

“I been like that pretty much my entire life. I think I just caught on early from seeing people. At some point though, you want to congratulate yourself, but overall it’ll cripple you. Growing up in the hood, there’s just so many people who don’t got shit, but [they think they] know everything. And I just noticed the real successful people — my real successful homies that own shit, had houses, other little businesses — they were the coolest motherfuckers. And the people that had nothing [and thought] they knew everything, [their] minds was closed and shit. So my thing is just keeping a balance between that and knowing that the shit that I want is real big. I know I don’t know the answers to everything. But I know what I want.”

Perico gets his awareness from the same thing that enables him to tell such vivid stories about life in the ghetto: for most of his life, he lived in the ghetto. There, an inopportune lapse in awareness could cost you a whole lot more than a crowd’s adulation. The mortal implications are obvious to anyone familiar with the ghettos of South Central Los Angeles. Yet even more common than an early death, a lack of awareness in the hood can lead to a vicious cycle of inertia that precludes one’s ever escaping the sun-blasted chain link and twenty-four-hour procession of squad cars. To illustrate, he presents a scenario as a hypothetical, which from the conviction in his voice sounds all too real:

“My whole time growing up — let’s say for instance we’re together everyday and we’re on some ghetto shit or something, you might go off and just come up on some money somewhere. $50,000, $70,000; street money. We just had $300 yesterday, right? Now you’re not listening to nobody. You’re just big headed, you know what I mean? Then two weeks later, a month later, all the money’s gone and you’re doing some crazy shit trying to get [it] back and then you’re back into the same boat.”

These are the lessons Perico absorbed growing up and they directly inform his worldview and his music. Rather than relying on the shock value of the brutal violence he was all to often privy to, G’s depiction of life on the streets is often bittersweet — not glorifying, but appreciative and nostalgic in the same way that most recall their formative years. His music portrays the hood as an incubator for complex, three-dimensional human beings like Perico himself, instead of the caricatures television, cinema, and rap tend to present.

G Perico’s sound owes just as much to the L.A. streets. The comparisons to Easy E, DJ Quik, and other southland stalwarts are apparent and complimentary. He has the uncanny knack for inflecting his cadence with the flourishes of musicality that made Snoop Dogg’s early verses mesmerizing. And whether they’re serving to rep his azure crew, to cast a spotlight on brutal police behavior, or to declare what he wears on his feet when at his most intimate, his hooks are as addictive as any to grace Death Row vinyl.

When I ask him why he opted to play “I Love Thots,” twice that night at the Roxy, G Perico points out something I hadn’t been aware of, but that he had known intuitively. Referencing the crowd and their explosively positive response, he smiles and says simply, “I knew they wanted it.”

G and I went on to discuss his upcoming projects, the impact of life in the ghetto, his future travel plans, and the city of Los Angeles—which he’ll keep on repping for as long as he has his awareness and his life.

What’s your favorite taco joint in L.A.?

I got a few. Right now, I like going to that truck on La Brea and Venice right there, in the gas station. There’s always a lot of people there. It looks like a club at nighttime.

Other people make music in character/write stuff that’s not from their own perspective. You don’t do that. You’re goal is to tell your story and be as real as you possibly can. Why do you feel that veracity in your art is so important?

Because I feel like I did so much shit. My life is like a movie. It’s like every genre of movie from fucking action, suspense, horror, thriller, romance, all that shit. Shit, I’ve seen first hand and dealt with. From being around people and having conversations with people and being in situations with people. So I don’t necessarily need to step out and do something from another person’s perspective, because I’ve got so many different perspectives myself on life and so many different stages of me living. So I can just talk about a lot of shit first-hand.

That’s what I’ve been working on with the new music. Different topics that I know about first-hand and I can actually spit it, raw and clear so you can feel it. Just because the words that I say and the way that I say it and the confidence. Even when I talk about this shit in interviews, the confidence that’s there, you’re gonna know.

I just feel like — and this might be a little arrogance, but — I’m a dope-ass motherfucker, know what I’m saying? As far as life is concerned. I don’t necessarily feel like I’ve gotta step out of the box. Well of course, out the box of the regular shit people are used to hearing. They probably think I’m just one-dimensional, but a person, a human, goes through so many different emotions and feelings and thoughts during the day. I can’t just be one thing, so I just dig in myself and come with the shit.

Tell me a little about the new album you’re working on.

Yeah I’m working on a few different projects. I be working so much. Different topics, you know what I mean? Different topics about the introduction of myself because I still think I’m fairly new as far as the masses are concerned. I don’t wanna just get tossed into one box, even though it’s all relatively the same. There’s so many different topics I can talk about under the umbrella that I consider myself. The reality, the street, the motivational; I fall under so many different categories because I’m all of these things in one. Motivational, gangster, ratchet as a motherfucker, hood rat, nasty, conscious…it’s not all super extreme. It’s a regular motherfucker just living a life.

You and your friends must have been exposed to a lot of violence, growing up in the hood in South Central. Looking back now, how do you think that has shaped you and the people you grew up with?

I think it just helped me respect the world a little bit better. And understand people [and] situations a whole lot better. So I just got a different perspective on everything. I know how bad shit can get. And I know the chances of my life getting that bad again are slim. So just as far as me dealing with stuff, I’m calm with a lot of shit. Because like you said, I’ve seen a lot of the crazy shit early. And it’s dope, because [now] I’m just happy to be here.

So I just approach shit like a player because I know that shit could really be terrible, man. And shit, I’m not scared of that neither. But I’m happy that we’re sitting here in a setting like this and that I can do shit like this.

It’s just part of my story and part of my life and I think it just makes me a better person as far as dealing with people and hearing people out. Because everybody got problems and shit, and I can just look at you like, “Man, bro, it’s really not that bad.”

On the flip side, most people who didn’t grow up there see the ghetto as something inherently depressing or sad. But a lot of your music seems to highlight the moments of joy that can be found in such an environment. Do you consider yourself an optimist?

Yeah you gotta be. I’m definitely an optimist. That’s the only way that you can win around there. That’s another thing I learned early. Just telling people my plans like, “I wanna get this spot over here. I wanna get this car.” You know, nigga shit. Fly nigga shit. [Saying] I wanna go get this, [and hearing from other people], “Oh man you can’t do that!” And that’s back to what I’m saying. The motherfuckers who [think they] know everything.

My real Los Angeles is gangster as a motherfucker.

We know it’s bad, you know what I mean? So with every situation we’re looking for the best shit. We’re looking for the win. We’re looking for a great situation. For most of my life it was just a great situation in the ghetto. Like we’re surrounded by fucked up shit, but let’s say for example, if we were in the hood—if you rewind me back five, six years—we’d be sitting in the middle of the fucking crazy shit, killers all around the building, all the gangster shit going on, police jumping out…But we’d be sitting just like this, [on] Italian furniture in the middle of the ghetto. Guns laying around and shit, but [we’d be] chilling.

So my whole thing in life is like, let me just find the best situation in everything because we know that the ghetto is fucked up. It’s horrible. People next door are going through some crazy shit—this, that and the other. So my whole thing is keeping it gangster, but being that light that shines, know what I mean? To make motherfuckers smile and be happy.

Do you have any advice you’d give to kids growing up in the hood today?

Man, I wouldn’t say, “Do not do anything,” because that’s what kind of builds your character. Because it’s all a risk, you don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s hard, man. There’s so much trickery in the ghetto. So many corners — like don’t do this, but then you gotta do that to do this, you know what I mean? It’s like fuck, man.

I would say, hopefully you’re a good judge of character. That’s what helps people survive in the hood. Being a good judge of character and being able to stand up on your own. Find yourself — whoever you are or feel like you are —and be that. And just be a good judge of character. I can’t say, “Don’t do this,” and “Don’t do that,” because there’s shit that you’re going to have to do. So I would say just focus on finding yourself or who you want to be, and put yourself around like-minded individuals. Stay away from scandalous motherfuckers.

What’s your interpretation of the “Real L.A.”?

My real Los Angeles is gangster as a motherfucker. My real Los Angeles is fucking cowboys and Indians. Shoot em up. Guns. Swap meets. Crips and Bloods. Pimps and hoes. Cars. Money. Drugs. Violence.

Whats your favorite thing to do in L.A.?

L.A.’s got the car culture. I like driving through the city. I like seeing people. I like jumping out on the corners with niggas. Hanging out. Drinking. I like all of it. I’m kinda like an Indiana Jones type dude in L.A. We might be riding and I see a group of niggas, [I might] bust a U [turn] and jump out and disappear into a crowd.

If I could picture my life how I would like, I’d wanna mold James Bond, Indiana Jones, and fucking Crocodile Dundee. Like the player, the raw adventurousness, and at the same time grimy. Because you know James Bond was clean and smooth, but Crocodile Dundee was grimy and smooth. So it’s like a hybrid of all that mixed with some Crip shit. Just the best pieces of all that into one.

Do you have a favorite venue you like to perform at?

I would say so far it’s the Roxy. I like the Novo too. The Novo is dope as fuck. The energy in there be crazy. But it’s between the Roxy and the Novo.

Who are the L.A. rappers people should be listening to?

They should be listening to T.F., Nip[sey Hussle], RJ, [03] Greedo, Drakeo [the Ruler], my homie TSwish, and Polyester the Saint.

If this city disappeared tomorrow, where would you want to live?

I say it all the time, I’m gonna go live in Venice. In Italy.

Have you been there?

Nope, but I see the shit. That’s where I wanna go. As soon as I get my passport situated from a little shit I got going on, that’s where I’m going first. As far as leisure time. I don’t know where business will take me. But as far as leisure, my own time, I wanna go to Venice. Going down the street in a rowboat!

If L.A. disappeared I would probably just jet out the country for a minute. Because I been through all the other states and shit and I don’t know. You’ll never find another L.A. nowhere. Ever.

G Perico performs live at "Don't Come to LA," this Thursday, March 29th at Resident in Downtown Los Angeles.

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