The love that G Perico has for the city of Los Angeles is immeasurable. As evidenced by his rhymes, he always saves room for references to his hometown, while most of his music videos are filmed in the South Central streets he grew up in. “We hang where it’s crackin’ at/South Central that’s the city/If you ain’t from my hood then you probably be an idiot,’ he raps on “Turnin Corners.” From the lessons he learned in those same streets to the gang culture that consumed his life as an adolescent, L.A. has played a major role in all aspects of G Perico’s life. But for a city that’s given him so much, it has also shown the 30-year-old rapper what could happen if he stays in his comfort zone.
If you ask him, G Perico—né Jeremy Nash—considers himself to be the spokesperson for the West Coast locale permanently in the spotlight. “I feel like I’m a part of the city,” he says while observing the hundreds of chattering passersby occupying a Rockefeller Center sitting area. “I love L.A. so much I don’t want that to get mistaken.”
There’s no questioning where Perico hails from sitting in the middle of a sea of New Yorkers. His West Coast slang is undeniable and the smooth, slick Jheri curl that sits atop his scalp draws attention from curious strangers. He insists that his signature style isn’t a marketing ploy. Jheri curls have been a part of his family since the birth of the fad in the 1980s. “Uncle Mike still got a long a** perm and my granny had a curl. All my cousins and big homies were heavy in the sh*t so I kind of missed that era,” he says. But the era he barely missed is kept alive in more than just his outer image.
Through a span of several mixtapes, G Perico takes his listeners on a journey through his L.A. with sharp, gangsta lyrics, like the introspective “All Me” where he raps, “Look at my hood, dope spots round the corner/Walking through the alley early morning/Turkish chains, fuzzy braids, 40 on my waist/I’m left handed so I tuck it this way/Quick draw, you see them ni**as over there.” Sonic hometown tour led by G’s rhymes continues with the G-funk-inspired production courtesy of Cypress Moreno, Poly Boy, WebbMadeThis and more. It’s easy for L.A. up-and-coming rappers to fall victim to the ratchet, strip club-inspired sound made popular by YG, Ty Dolla $ign, and DJ Mustard, but Perico intentionally strayed from the norm and created a sound inspired by forefathers of L.A. gangsta rap. His Tha Innerprize mixtape series debut created a local buzz for the rapper, and the self-proclaimed “ghetto president” reached a country-wide audience in 2016 with his breakout mixtape Sh*t Don’t Stop.
In 2017, Perico capitalized on his momentum by releasing three mixtapes (2 Tha Left, All Blue, and G-Worthy) with each of them being well-received by the public and receiving favorable reviews on Pitchfork and HipHopDX. His work in the underground scene was noted throughout Los Angeles and the attention he’s receiving outside of state lines—his music streamed in 65 countries this year based on his 2018 Spotify for Artists wrap-up—has cemented his status as one of the most promising rappers in Los Angeles. But with all the early praise, Perico is still aware of the cons that come with doing something that has already been done.
“The old me was a felon and repeat offender doing ignorant sh*t. That’ll either lock me up or kill me. That won't get me into the higher places. Evolving and reinventing is beyond necessary.”
When an artist infuses the music of the past with the new generation, the early results are usually a success. But over time, channeling the past can turn an artist into a novelty act. “Just off my look alone they’ll throw me in that box and I’m all about being current,” Perico says when asked if he’s bridging the gap between the old and new West Coast. “I don’t want to just be a remake of all that sh*t. Instead of doing the same sh*t over, I want to push this West Coast sh*t to a new level by evolving.” From performing in local venues to recently selling out shows on the East Coast like in Boston, the Angeleno saw the bigger picture in consistent transformation.
It all started when a series of events shifted Perico’s focus prior to his rap career taking off. While spending time in-and-out of prison, Perico lost his safety net when his grandmother passed away. He became a father shortly after and knew he couldn’t go back to the day-to-day street life he was knee-deep in. “I didn’t give a f**k about sh*t before. I was catching cases and sh*t, then bounce back out trippin’,” Perico remembers. “Last time I went [to jail] my support system was gone and I had nobody to call. My hustle got crazy ’cause I knew I had to survive and take care of myself and a lot of other people.”
It’s this mindset that fuels Perico’s drive now. He wants to survive in the rap game the same way he survived the mean streets of South Central L.A. “I’m in a world now with the higher-ups and sh*t. I’m understanding and seeing sh*t from all different angles now,” Perico says, audibly humbled. The average person that listens to rap—it has long been assumed that the biggest hip-hop consumer in the United States are white suburban teenagers—is not from the same place as rappers like G Perico. Rappers who don’t understand the cultural differences between themselves and their listeners fade away while the ones who do are in the game for a long time. That’s what G Perico is here for.
Longevity is important for rappers aiming to dominate hip-hop’s busy landscape. Like Jay-Z and E-40 who are still relevant figures in hip-hop to this day, Perico has goals of becoming a premier artist with staying power. “I want to grow old like The Beatles. Everyone that tries to be the same person and not live outside their box gets left behind. F**k the old you,” Perico says. “The old me was a felon and repeat offender doing ignorant sh*t. That’ll either lock me up or kill me. That won’t get me into the higher places. Evolving and reinventing is beyond necessary.”
Perico kept a low profile in 2018 releasing only one project, the Guess What? EP. In that time, he was revamping his artistry. He and his team were building upon his touring and figuring out ways to expand his audience. By the end of Dec. 2018, he will have wrapped a 15-city trek supporting Freddie Gibbs’ self-titled North American tour. “You can’t become that guy just by being a local artist. Where’s the growth and fun in being local?” Perico asks. “I’m trying to live my sh*t like James Bond, but the gangster version. I’m trying to be all around the world with it. I can’t do that just by staying local and doing the same sound.”
Growth doesn’t happen overnight, and Perico is aware of the process it takes to fully become the best version of himself. Along with the changes he has made in his personal life, G is taking baby steps towards the evolution he wants to see in his artistry. Consider his most recent effort, Guess What?, a teaser of what’s to come from the rapper. “A year ago, me stepping outside the box was unheard of,” he reveals. “But now I’m moving more strategic, I’m seeing all the possibilities that come from stepping out my box.”
On the EP closer, “How You Want It,” Perico delivers raunchy rhymes of sexual acts over a bass heavy, ratchet strip club record, something he would’ve never done in the past. “With that record, I would have said ‘Nah ni**a, this is how we do it right here,’ and that’s just a result of me not understanding the importance of evolving.” Perico may have once been lost in the street life, but he has found a way out (and up) through his music.
Despite his goals of becoming an A-list rapper, G wants to be so much more for his city. “I want to be the blueprint for people that were like me. Pretty much showing people how to do it,” he says. “I want to invest in different corporations. That’s what gets you longevity in this. A lot of rappers fall off because they have something and end up letting it go to waste because they didn’t do the right thing. The ones who are still here have their business in order and I’m learning how to navigate that.”
Yes, there are still lessons that need to be learned, but rest assured, G Perico is on the right path.