G PERICO: I DON’T GOT TIME TO WASTE
photography by alex the brown
Since Greg Mack dropped a young Crenshaw rapper named Ice-T’s street anthem “6 In The Mornin’” on his seminal radio program the Mack Attack, gangsta rap has grown into the propaganda vehicle for street life here in Los Angeles. During the last 30 years, the sound has epitomized what it means to come out of the West Coast, as well as changed the sonic landscape of what was previously a genre dominated by New York. But as with anything authentic and real, there also comes the biters and imitators. Market saturation by fakers and major label stooges (as well as industry politics) clogged the path of many young black men—think King Tee, or Mausberg—trying to transition out of their dangerous environments into the music business world. Or think O.C.’s “Time’s Up” on repeat times a million. Mass culture moved on and forgot about the streets. But now young rapper G Perico—popularly characterized as The Hero of Broadway—represents a resurgence that’s been quietly creeping into the scene over the last 5 years. While music critics have fallen over themselves showering a spotlight on L.A.’s burgeoning neo-jazz moment (facilitated by the griots and living ancestors in Leimert Park), many have slept on this modern revival in the streets. L.A. has been birthing a new generation of street rappers from neighborhoods across South Central and West L.A.—RJ, AD, Teecee4800—showing that no matter the amount of attention we deliver or deny, “The Streets Is Watching.” (As a young Shawn Carter put it.) A reserved and deliberate figure, G has quietly spent three years building a place for himself amongst the ranks of the New West. His work ethic is unmatched—three releases on his own label So Way Out dropped this year alone, including his new 2 Tha Left. And while his look and intonations recall past classics, his lyrics and delivery are very much rooted in the present. He’s been able to successfully connect a nostalgic reverence for g-funk with the streets of today. G Perico performs on Fri., Feb. 23, at the Roxy. This interview by Senay Kenfe.
Just a year ago I was doing that show off of Pico at Union and I remember that they asked us not to put your name on the marquee because there were potential interactions with people out and about—
G Perico: Those motherfuckers! [laughs] I could walk through it now. But yeah, people didn’t believe—they thought it was all trouble still. I’ve really been working hard trying to get that perception up offa me. And it’s so fucking hard like trying to—like in a professional setting—getting that dark cloud from over your head. Even though it wasn’t that bad for me. I caught it early. Motherfuckers in the street—they get you fucked up fast.
So now you feel like your footing is in order—what’s the next step?
G Perico: The next step is getting them roots deeper. Planting them on solid ground. Just expanding my reach, and expanding the brand, and just—I’m like a different type of artist. There’s a gang of different steps I gotta take, and different shit I gotta do. I can’t think like the average, for sure. I got 2 Tha Left coming out, and I’m gonna try to get that to more listeners—grow the audience, grow the brand, just get people on a deeper understanding with me outside of just the obvious. ‘He’s a Crip.’ Outside of that, you know what I mean? Really just build that audience and gear up for the longevity so I can be here for longer than five years because there’s a lot of people banking on me to just do five years. And shit—I’m already in my first year, so I don’t got time to waste.
Does that worry you? A lot of people come and go—flash in the pan.
G Perico: It should worry anybody. But it’s a good thing to know what you up against so you know how to position yourself—so you know what to do. You won’t just be sitting in la-la land waiting. It’s important to know the consequences: what’s going on if you do this, or if you do that. The likelihood … all that shit. I wouldn’t say it worries me, but it motivates me not to be falling into that.
What kinds of things do you want of your listeners to take away from your new album 2 Tha Left?
G Perico: Damn, there’s a lot of shit. I want them to understand that my life’s been raw as fuck in real actual real time—and about my life being raw as fuck, I don’t sit here and dwell on it. I don’t do that. I like what I like. I done what I done. I’m just like one of them niggas that’s blessed to articulate the lifestyle in a cool way that people like, and it’s not too many cats like that. A lot of people like me wouldn’t be able to sit in a room like this or even think about taking the time out, because you so caught up in the lifestyle. I’m blessed to even be right here and be able to get a story to the people, I just feel like I’m a spokesman—in some forms—like a mascot, or a star player. Let’s just say the star player—fuck the mascot!—for the street dudes that’s looking to win, and have some, and been through some shit, and still be standing tall.
I think there’s obviously a lot of gang politics that go into any music being made. But over the last four or five years, we’ve seen the pendulum shift in terms of the representation of Blood rappers. A decade ago, it was maybe a lot of Crip rappers. So it’s interesting to see moments like your album All Blue—is that what you mean when you [talk about] your roots? And in the reverse, on your project, you have the same kind of record with some artist that aren’t from the same hood.
G Perico: I see what you mean, but no—I didn’t mean that. I mean as far as my roots, when I said that I mean as far as my reach and expanding. Naturally the All Blue shit is who I am. It’s just in this one spot right now, so I need to spread it in all different aspects. Branding, different business interests. Music. Touring. The whole shit needs to work right, not just grow like with fluff. I don’t want my tree falling down when it get windy. I need to be planted in the soil.
The cover of 2 Tha Left—I’m assuming that’s you?
G Perico: Yeah, that’s me.
With your flag in the left pocket. What’s the significance for the uninitiated?
G Perico: That’s pretty much part of the uniform. You won’t see too many people walking around with flags, but I keep one with me. That’s part of the uniform, the most identifiable thing, to let motherfuckers know your affiliation. To have a blue rag.
Because of hip-hop, there’s a lot of L.A. gang culture that becomes a national thing. As more people pop up with it, do you find that there are many rules and regulations and codes that you have to live by due to the fact that you are in L.A.?
G Perico: Yeah of course. Man, no man is bigger than what’s going on. Nobody. I don’t give a fuck who it is. I seen the biggest niggas that thought they was bigger than the program get chopped down. There’s rules to everything. This is one case where these rules is kind of severe. And then you got a whole other side of rules just by it being like some outlaw type shit. So you got the rules of the outlaw shit, and you got the rules of America, which is ‘Fuck niggas.’ So there’s rules everywhere. Shit don’t stop.
I feel like your roll-out … it’s not necessarily in the realm of the Southern artists, where they just dump a lot of records out, but it’s also not necessarily like more traditional West Coast rappers who put out a record between one and three years.
G Perico: That’s out for me. I take a page out of the Southern artists, and I definitely want to drop consistent. It’s just building like … just think if I got one fucking CD, right? In two or three years, I got one fucking CD. Anybody who’s just as good—maybe better, maybe not even as good, but he got outta my one—he got eight. He got a longer playlist so he can entertain longer. More people is with that, you know what I mean?
It’s gambling, too—you got more a chance of hitting—
G Perico: —and that’s really to me the reason why the South got the fucking headline right now because they got so much shit to entertain you with. Nigga coming one time every couple years, you know what I mean? It’s about that consistency and having content. And that’s what’s missing out here, but we about to bring that to life.
You have a lot of features on this one. You have your typical collaborators like TeeCee4800 and AD on there. But then you have—who’s done a really great record I like—Mozzy?
G Perico: ‘What’s Real.’
You have Curren$y—
G Perico: Ray Wright from Warm Brew.
And he did that record with Polyester—
G Perico: Polyester. Nef [the Pharoah]. That’s it. That’s a lot for me.
That’s a lot for you. Why the change in direction?
G Perico: Naturally I like tried to stay away from features because I feel like if your verse not better than mine—or equal—I don’t want you on my song. ‘Nigga, what are you on here for if you not gonna gas it and chill it? You just wasting space on good music!’
And time too.
G Perico: Right. So that was my reasoning for staying away from features. This time, you know, I’m actually starting to get my feet wet in the game. Other artists are fucking with me now. Niggas didn’t even believe I was a rapper yet. They were like, ‘Nigga, you’re a gangster.’ You know what I’m saying? ‘You might end up back in jail.’ So I did a lot of mingling and shit during this process—meeting with people, vibing with a lot of different motherfuckers. And that’s how that came about—just having them on records.
There’s a song by Mobb Deep—it’s called ‘Trife Life.’ And it’s kind of about smashing girls from other hoods, and you got a song like that with Nef.
G Perico: ‘Other Side.’
Yeah—‘Other Side.’ What was the inspiration behind that?
G Perico: Just natural shit. I think he came up with the hook—he came up with the hook, and it’s just like, my verse was done in like five minutes because it was so natural. That’s the lifestyle. I mean—I fucked a lot of bitches from the other side. For real. And then in a couple situations also … creeping and shit.
Where do you usually meet them?
G Perico: A lot of the time when I was younger, school. And like going out to different events. Mall. Just driving through the city. You know. Because when you get a new car, you go through nigga’s hoods just to be seen. You know what I’m saying? And when you see cute little rats and shit, you stop and holler. Say the first thing that come to your mind.
I think that’s one of the most promising singles off the record coming out.
G Perico: I think it’s dope. But I move so fast—I did the project and I’m working on the next wave already, know what I mean? So I’ll just wait and see how the people take to it. I definitely had a good time recording it and shit.
On one of the records, you’re saying that there’s a woman who wanted you to keep your hair braided.
G Perico: ‘She said she like a nigga better with my braided hair / Shit look’—yeah, a lot of girls like braids. A lot of girls like the curl. And at that time, when I said that, it was somebody telling me to get my hair braided.
Like an image thing.
G Perico: Naturally I went in the studio and said she was fine as a motherfucker too.
Do your day-to-day experiences find their way into your rhymes?
G Perico: Yeah—my music ain’t like shit where they just spitting fucking metaphors and fucking crazy Batman verses Hercules—I heard a nigga in New York say he’s slapping squirrels and shit. Like no, my music isn’t that. It is the lifestyle, the day to day. I’m going to get up, go brush my teeth … or I may not brush my teeth. Go to the refrigerator or might not. I might go straight outside. It’s just depicting that, and the reason why it’s gangster because you know, I come from a gangster area—a gangster scenario. If I was in the ‘burbs, I’d probably be talking about fucking taking some over the counter shit. But it’s pretty much my environment.
I hear that a lot within the music. There’s a couple records—Amerikkka, ‘Fuck the Police,’ I hope it doesn’t impact your career in the same way it has other peoples.