The cosmic kismet of sitting down with G Perico inside Legends Only Studio in North Hollywood on October 8 is just too delicious, considering the fact that his most recent album is called Ten-Eight. He strides in wearing his signature white tee, Karl Kani baseball cap, dark denim jeans and low-top sneakers — eagle eyes would notice this is the same outfit he wore for the Ten-Eight documentary screening in Beverly Hills the previous night. Apparently, the party went on long and hard.
G Perico is not short on confidence. He props himself up on the couch and says time and again that he’s the biggest rapper of all time, and not only in Los Angeles. Regarding this city, he repeatedly describes it as “errythang.” In fact, before we could get him to even focus on the interview, he’s joking and busting out the sarcasm. He offers a disclaimer: “You know, bad behavior is great in politics.”
We focus in on South Central, 108th and Broadway to be exact; this isn’t just home base — it’s where Jeremy Nash rose from the streets, initially embracing the gangster lifestyle before turning his life around for the better. His initial goal wasn’t to be a celebrity, it was simply to survive.
Even among the rap legends in the City of Angels, Perico stands out with his signature Jheri curls, fitted tees, low tops with crew socks and zero-fucks-given attitude. Beyond that, he can really rap — with lyrics telling an honest story. Ultimately, that message is if he can make it out of the ghetto, anyone can.
People who really know Perico will vouch that he’s never switched up, unable to be bothered by any industry bullshit or drama. On the streets, he’s about loyalty to your gang and your family — that’s it. But thankfully, music came and swept him off his feet at the perfect time.
It was his 2017 hit single “All Blue” that took him from the underground into the mainstream. After seeing him sell out The Roxy to the point where attendees could barely breathe inside the intimate venue, it was clear to most that they were in the presence of a star. Beyond the music, his effortless ability to catch the attention of all those who hear and see him allows him to shine, and his animated personality is a breath of fresh air.
Fast forward to 2019, and the 31-year-old is celebrating his deal with Roc Nation. He’s opened his own So Way Out retail store in his neighborhood — on 108th and Broadway, of course — and he’s unleashed his most recent project, Ten-Eight. Things are going well, and should you ask him why he’s so sure he’s the G.O.A.T., he’ll tell you: “Because I’m the only person with this story I’m telling. It’s a Los Angeles story, one of the greatest stories of all time. You see how it all came in a full circle? It’s an L.A. story and L.A. means ‘errythang’ to me.”
That story has everything to do with the exact location the 11-track project’s title is referencing. But Perico wastes no time in reminding me he’s had that title for years. “Years ago, I had this planned out already.” he says. “I was on Ten-Eight: woke up one morning, came out the studio, walked to the store. It was all on Ten-Eight. Ten-Eight is part of my life, it’s 10/8 day too.”
That very studio was one he not only frequented, but where he spent the majority of his waking hours. More importantly, the neighborhood it resides within informed Perico’s upbringing. At 12 years old, the young Nash was already “one of those guys.” He now says that he’s a former member of the Broadway Gangster Crips.
“Reality usually don’t set in till afterwards. When you’re in the action, it is what it is,” he recalls. “Gangbanging, hustling, pimping, everything else going on around there besides being a bum. All the activities that make you a ghetto superstar. I was there, present and involved. I got a strike for that shit too, this is all public record. I have no secrets.”
It’s Perico’s admirable openness and honesty that fans appreciate, recalling real-life experiences and obstacles that have molded him into the man he is today. His first project (Tha Innerprize) arrived at the end of 2011, prior to turning himself in.
“I’m a career criminal, I’m a repeat offender,” he says. “I went to jail on Broadway but my charge don’t have shit to do with Broadway. I’m no longer part of Broadway Gangster Crips, no longer an active gang member. I’m a musician. Last time I went to jail, I was caught with a gun. Ex-convict, possession of firearm. I [also] got caught in jail with a cellular device and got 90 days — that’s why I was there for longer than a year.”
He served 15 months behind bars, and then made a conscious decision to trade the streets for the music. When asked if there was a turning point, he says, “Pretty much when I got out of the joint. Not even when I got out because I was still on my ghetto shit. When people outside the hood started liking it then I started liking it, I’m like ‘yeah, I can do this shit.’”
Perico did refuse to rap for anybody in the penitentiary. He says, “I ain’t rap for no n*ggas in jail. For what? I ain’t rapping for no gang of broke-ass n*ggas, institutionalized n*ggas sitting there lying to a n*gga about their whole life story. I couldn’t stand motherfuckers in jail, that’s why I ain’t been back. I ain’t trying to talk to any of them n*ggas, but I got a few who are solid. Those my guys, they solid. They don’t count. I’m not looking to discover myself or other people discover myself inside jail.”
Perico has never had a job — he’s not filled out an application and has no part-time gig. All he ever knew was how to hustle, and he was prepared to live that life until his music happened. He says, “They tried to make me work in the pen and I quit. That was my thing, why would I come to jail and work for five, six cents if I ain’t doing that in the streets?”
Walking away from those streets is not easy. The money, the glitz and glamour, the attention of being a rapper could not equate to the name he had built up in his neighborhood.
“My whole entire plan in life was to just be — not necessarily gangbanging, ’cause it’s levels to that shit,” he says. “I’ve been past a street corner level, that hasn’t been me since 13. Really just the whole outlaw experience, life. Doing whatever the fuck I wanted to do, having fun. I got a fucking sea of motherfuckers behind me, like a ghetto enterprising I guess.”
But not while he was locked up, where he was shit out of luck. His biggest lesson learned behind bars? “I learned that n*ggas ain’t who they say they are,” he says. “I learned you have to be really responsible for your actions. I don’t want to be there so me being responsible is not doing certain things and actually thinking. That’s where my forward-thinking came about. You know everybody think they got shit figured out right, but it’s really just foolishness. Me actually thinking long came right there — as opposed to just day to day. I learned how to be patient with myself.”
Perico had one foot in and one foot out, still in the hood everyday or stopping through. It was the moment all his homies were snatched up on an indictment that he reassessed his own life and actually turned things around. He had to rely on his talent to make West Coast bops and bangers, which ultimately helped catapult him in front of a wider audience.
He compares his crossroads to drug addicts, people who are completely aware that the substances are messing up their lives. “You look in the mirror and know this shit, but you love it though. Fuck it, same shit with me,” he admits. “Once they snatched everybody up, that was the final straw. Because my n*gga got killed, a gang of my other partners had got life. N*ggas were strung out, drug addicts, everything that you never thought would happen.”
While in the process of straightening out his act in 2015, Perico got shot. He says, “When I was running around buck, n*ggas wasn’t even hollering at me. That was my biggest test in the universe. ‘We know who you are G and what you’re into. You want this or you want…?’ Because I could’ve easily got super buckwild and burnt out, had everybody around me on the same shit. But where’s the growth in that? I already know the answer to the end of all that ’cause it happened so many times.”
Of the incident, he says, “The way the situation happened, I was in a rush to go somewhere. It was two different cars, some n*ggas were trying to get me in a truck on another block and the n*ggas that pulled up bussin’ were in another small car. It’s just another one of them nights.”
At this point, he’s numb to any of the pain. He’s been through years of trauma, so much so, “It’s just regular shit on that point.” This includes endless raids, shootouts and violence in his own neighborhood.
Tellingly, on the new album’s title track “Ten-Eight,” he spits, “Tell the cops I’m legit, bitch, I rap now / Still on G shit, still on C shit, Everybody mad ’cause they thought I wouldn’t be shit / Ten-eight and Broadway, n*ggas tried to murder me there, if you ain’t heard about me then you ain’t from around there.”
His rhymes hit hard because they’re real. His goal isn’t to win you over, he’s just spilling his heart into the microphone as an outlet for his pain. For now, something he once saw as the “greatest hustle of all time” has officially come to an end, which is the exact reason he subtitled his documentary The Rise of a Progressive Gangster. The short film follows his life from 2012 to Ten-Eight.
It all comes back to the music in the end, and Perico has plenty to say. On the subject of his rapping ability: “Because I can just talk the shit. Even if I don’t put it out, I could just vent a little bit. I’d rather just vent to the mic anyway, there’s nobody equipped for all the shit that I be talking about. It’s all emotions that change nonstop throughout the day.”
Perico’s following and fan base have grown with each release, and he’s started enjoying music. “I accepted my passion, then I got a system where I could take care of myself with the music. I don’t really want to give it up, just know it’s the greatest system in the game. The G Perico So Way Out grind, the greatest system in the whole rap game,” he brags.
In addition to the music, Perico also has the So Way Out business and clothing brand alongside business partner and producer Polyboy to focus on. Poly remembers, “What originally drew me to him and his music is what a lot of people see also: the authenticity. It’s no storytelling, it’s all facts. That’s something I appreciate in every artist, the main thing’s the authenticity.”
Another longtime friend and producer, Westside Webb, remembers the first time he heard of Perico.
“That’s my hard-headed brother,” Webb says. “That’s my boy. Aside from us working, he’s family. I met G when I was 18, when he first got out of the pen. I was already over there, I was in the studio for a while before he got out. I didn’t even really know who G was. Like Poly said, they had mixtapes. I was going there making beats because when you’re young, you ain’t have nowhere to cook up at. I was making beats and I’d see this n*gga’s CDs laying around everywhere. I’m like ‘shit when he gets out, I’m trying to work with him.’”
Evidently, Perico surrounds himself with people who exude positivity. This boosts his confidence, and that helped him get a deal with Roc Nation. Still, he had to think hard on the decision.
“I wasn’t trying to sign no deal, because everything is going so great independent,” he says. “I’m like ‘shit, I’ma just make a couple million like this every year.’ Let’s just say I’m the greatest hustler in the game.”
From the independent grind to now being on Jay-Z’s label, things are going well. But money hasn’t ended the trials and tribulations Perico faces. While parenting should be one of the greatest things to experience, the rapper struggles with the amount of time he has to spend away from 9-year-old daughter.
“You know, two weeks ago was the first time I have seen my daughter in almost a year, and I’m her biggest asset,” he says. “I’ve learned that motherfuckers are really foul, that’s what my experiences taught me. I’ve been getting robbed of my fatherhood, that’s where my mind’s at with it. It sucks sometimes, but every time I’m with her, it’s always great. She loves to see me.”
He’s staying grounded in that sense, even if his confidence is sky-high. Perico plans to give back to his hood as he can. “I can lead by example, being serious with my business and making shit go right. It’s pretty much like this in the hood: Motherfuckers listen to what they like, and what they like is successful shit. In their eyes, whatever successful is. In the ghetto, successful is cars, jewelry and some bitches.”
Poly has no doubt that it will all peak at the very top — “for G, I’m hoping top of the charts. Biggest artist in the world, that’s the evolutionary next step: progression. It’s been a long road. It hasn’t happened overnight. We’ve been doing it for so long but it’s been consistent growth so it’s only natural for him to go to the next level.” Meanwhile, Webb says he’s going to be one of the “top 10 artists in the world, for sure.”
Perhaps the most meaningful song on Ten-Eight is the closing, “Days Of Our Lives,” produced by Webb. Perico says, “That’s the greatest song ever that gives the perspective of the ghetto and what goes on in the ghetto. That’s the greatest walk through the ghetto that anyone has ever done or interpreted. That is the greatest walk through the ghetto on record in a musical form.”
He continues, “I was on top in the street shit, in the street world which is a small tiny box. I go from that to the bottom — I was the greatest n*gga at the bottom too. I go from the bottom of a new industry, just business and everything being legit. I’m starting over as a citizen, as a person. Period. I’ve just been doing things that nobody who’s ever lived a life like mine — I haven’t met anyone off-hand or heard their story who’s lived a life like mine, then entered into this game and gradually rising. It went from gangster to progressive, forward-moving individual.”
It’s not always about the studio or getting money, sometimes it’s about freeing your mind. This is exactly what his So Way Out Sunday bike rides were created for. Cycling through the city is just one way he inspires the youth to go out and do something.
He says, “It’s definitely a better influence because it’s still enjoy being you in this life. It distracts the kids from running into certain obstacles. We’re on bikes, we don’t have time. I don’t want to gangbang or sell dope, I ain’t got time for that. My whole point is to inspire and hopefully get other people on different paths. It’s not necessarily to even come ride bikes, but inspire you to do whatever the fuck you want to do. G, you rhyme? Yeah n*gga, that’s what I want to do.”
In fact, you might just be lucky enough to catch G doing a wheelie. As we near the end of our conversation, he drives his point home. “I’m the greatest at doing that type of shit period, no one excluded. Just make sure we get that through, I want to irritate some people.”
Perico is building a legacy and he hopes to inspire people 100 years from now. As long as he’s in a few history books and museums, he’s straight, he says, “A historic motherfucker, somebody people study. Pattern your shit after the greatest.”
For now, fans can look forward to his forthcoming Progressive Tape Volume 1, a g-funk inspired project featuring Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y. In addition, Perico is on a health kick; he and his mentor Black Sam plan to open a juice bar. Music, business, community events — he sees no difference.
“I’ve always been a ghetto celebrity, it’s just the same thing in a bigger place.”
G Perico plays with Azjah at 9 p.m. on Friday, November 22 at the Regent Theater.