At the top of the year, G. Perico vowed to retire the old version of himself — the criminal side who always ran into trouble. “The old me was a felon and repeat offender doing ignorant shit,” he told me at the time. “That won’t get me into the higher places. Evolving and reinventing is beyond necessary.”
Today, the budding lyricist is living up to those words and has reason to celebrate with some bubbly in the early hours of the day. On top of signing a two-album deal with Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation last August, G Perico released his new album Ten-Eight later that month.
Perico’s Roc Nation debut is an ode to 108th and South Broadway, an intersection in Los Angeles where police raids were an everyday occurance and a near-death experience nearly took his life.
“When I got on 108th I was buck wild, and didn’t give a fuck about much besides getting money in the hood,” he says. Despite his area’s bloodthirsty nature, Perico shrugged off his trigger-happy opponents and shined on tracks like “Number 1” and “Dog Year.”
With a new deal, two thriving businesses — Perico is the owner of One Stop Smoke Shop and his clothing store So Way Out in LA — and an upcoming album titled Broadway (executively produced by Kendrick Lamar collaborator Terrace Martin) on the way, Perico’s evolution has him on the right path, so long as he continues to put in the work. “I have to think bigger and further,” he says. “There’s more planning and assistance, whatever that may be… I have to keep bubbling. This is bigger than hip-hop — but nothing is bigger than hip-hop, you know what I’m saying?”
Billboard got the chance to catch up with G Perico to talk more about his deal with Roc Nation, the new album Ten-Eight, progressive gangster music, linking up with Martin for Broadway, and more.
Let’s talk about your evolution. Eight months ago you were telling me you’re stepping out of your box. Where do you see yourself now?
I see myself at like a real big transitional moment right now. All the planning I’ve been doing this entire year, just on these whiteboards writing out different plans, changing it. The average n—a would’ve stopped. I got thrown in a box early because I didn’t understand media and how shit worked, it was just all music for me. It’s like, “All right. You’re just this crip n—a from South Central with a curl who raps and that’s it?” What? Man, I’m from L.A. man, we got flavor too. It’s not like I’m a n—a that just sat on one block his whole fucking life and don’t know shit. I know about it all.
My whole thing was to get out of that box. Now it’s about taking all my attributes and giving pieces of that to the world without straying too far away. I think every artist has multiple things going on with them that’s dope, right? But where they fuck up is that they just go way too left and ditch whatever they had going on. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’m letting people know what I’m capable of now.
How did the Roc Nation deal come about? I understand it’s a two-album deal?
It’s a three album deal and it came about through Black Dee. He’s been connected with the Roc and Emory Jones and different people on the staff. He was playing my music for them on some regular shit, not like, “Yo listen to my little n—a.” They were listening and asked who the rapper was and that they wanted to meet him. That’s pretty much how that came about. I was wrestling back and forth with it because I didn’t want to sign with a label. I wasn’t even thinking like that. It’s like I got the whole staff built out, and we just have to build on this and keep going.
Why make this move with Roc Nation now when you were already making waves in the independent market?
It’s just like I’ve been knocking at so many doors and they don’t understand the vision because they haven’t seen the evolution. There hasn’t been anybody like me, ever. I might resemble somebody because of a few physical attributes, or my vocal tone might resemble some shit — but as far as pound-for-pound artist, entertainer, forward thinker, and progressive gangster, there hasn’t been anybody that popped up like me.
I’m walking in these meetings battling for these people to hear me out. I got to pop that shit hard. I popped my shit to Roc Nation and they were with it. Now I can take my planning and my ideas and move them all to the next level with speed. I don’t mind taking the steps, but it’s just that extra thing that can help me get into a better position.
Ten-Eight feels like a tribute to your hood. Why go with that concept this go around?
Ten-Eight was a transitional time for me in the ghetto. Right now is a transitional time for me in the game. Through Ten-Eight I got introduced to the music. Well, I already had a few verses here and there, but I felt it wasn’t for me. But Ten-Eight was where I was like “Fuck it, let me go on and rap.”
That’s where the whole So Way Out concept came about. My first project came from that. It was just all my tests in life and street shit that happened right there on 108th. It also made me answer the question of what are you going to do? Are you going to do what all the n—as you’ve been seeing do for years that never beat the cycle or are you going to try something different? I tried something different on that block, and now this project is where I try something different in my career as an artist.
On “Ten-Eight” you waste no time talking about your hood and detailing a lot of the tough experiences you encountered there. One line that stuck out to me was, “Credit score almost at 800/ Feel the pressure from the transition/ Now the whole crew is handpicking bust big plays split a bag with ’em.” Was it difficult making this transition to where your life drastically changed?
This is the thing — I’m an entrepreneur, and you know how that life goes. You get some money and you pay some bills and invest in something else. It might work, or it might not. I’m still in the full-fledged hustle. But yeah, I do live better, that’s for sure. But it’s still rough, you know what I mean? There is pressure from that, because a lot of my friends that I wanted to come with me — they’re not coming. Just dealing with that, like, “Bro, you’re going to sit here and be stupid? You going to talk to me like I don’t know you?” I’m going through that right now.
They see what’s going on, jump in it! That’s where I get the pressure from. Like, damn these my guys. That’s been my biggest problem since I been in the game. I probably would’ve been blown up, but I’m trying to save [people] and my heart is too big. I’ve been taking a lot of sympathy out of my heart though for certain shit. I can’t press rewind and I’m not trying to miss out on things because of other people. How stupid does that sound? It’s like, fuck it, everyone could be mad at me right now. I don’t give a fuck. That’s what I’m on now. That’s the pressure from the transition.
You’ve never been one to be shy about your story. You’ve seen a lot and been through a lot. How have you coped with everything?
I don’t think I had too much of a conscience when all that shit was going on. I didn’t even plan to be 21 years old, you know what I’m saying? Now it’s like, I can be outside of all this L.A. shit. I could be whatever the fuck I want to be now at this point in life. I feel like I’ve hit a reset button. But reality does set in, and if you got all this shit going on in your mind and nobody gets it, that shit can make you crazy as fuck — especially with so much coming at you in the hood. Someone could have a meltdown and get to acting crazy. I see how a lot of n—as lost their mind. It’s not hard to do.
Seeing what happened with Nip and how he consistently gave his neighborhood opportunities to better themselves, you’re on a similar path like him. With you being shot before in front of your store So Way Out, what has his passing done to your outlook on life?
It tells me that I need to kick it into gear some more because there’s no telling when or where it’s going to happen, you know what I mean? It’s unexpected so I need to go as hard as I can and everybody that I’m with needs to do the same because there is no telling. A n—a can’t hit reset. That shit fucked with me for a minute because I didn’t know if I was supposed to be negative like that’s what we’re good at, you know what I mean? Like, “Man, fuck this shit, come on.” But then it’s like — who’s that helping? I need to kick it into gear even more.
Describe the void that’s in the city now that he’s gone.
That n—a was a fixture to Los Angeles and South Central. It’s forever going to be a void, because no one could do what he was doing or do it how he was doing it. There may be some similarities in certain people, but that’s a big hole in the city. His hood is in the heart of Los Angeles, and everyone else’s shit is all around. They’re smack dab right in the middle of the city. I don’t think there’s a person that exists that’ll be able to fill that hole.
You got a pair of tracks for the ladies on this project with “What’s Up” and “Lil Baby.” This is somewhat of new territory for you so how are you improving on those type of records? You sound more comfortable on them, as opposed to how you sounded on “How U Want It” off Guess What?
This is the thing — I’ve been having that. I’m a young playboy. I’ve always had it, but it’s like, “Damn. Do people want to hear that yet? Am I even warmed up into that yet?” I got plenty of songs for the ladies — like “Love Letter,” which is my favorite. That one I wrote about someone specific.
But like I said, I’ve had the songs but it’s tricky because I’m between the lover boy and ratchet-ass G. I’m not just one thing when it comes to that. I have just been giving that out in pieces and hopefully, people understand that I’m a person that goes through many feelings and emotions just like everybody else. It’s all about timing. When I dropped “Love Letter,” people wanted that type of music. “Lil Baby” and “What’s Up” is different, but it’s still me at the same time.
Let’s talk about Broadway and what the concept for that album is. Is it a sequel to Ten-Eight?
I think Ten-Eight was something off of Broadway. I don’t know how to explain it. I’m from a desolate area in the city, and no one comes over there like that. Los Angeles is rich and where I’m from is one of those parts in LA that still kind of looks fucked up in comparison to other cities. It’s one of the grimiest areas in the city, and not a lot of people talk about it. When you hear L.A. you think Crenshaw, Compton, or Long Beach. You don’t hear about the east side of South Central. The narrative I’m telling is giving the world an understanding of this particular part of the city. The way I see it and how I feel it. It’s kind of like a concept project, but there’s going to be hits on there.
I know you spent a lot of time with Terrace Martin while working on these two projects. He’s serving as the executive producer of Broadway so tell us how you linked up with him.
My uncle used to hang out with Terrace, right? And when I was trying to fake rap — like, not being serious about it — he would tell me I needed to get with Terrace when I have the chance. This was years ago, and I’m like, “Who the fuck is Terrace?” I wasn’t really tripping on the shit, but then realized Terrace is the shit. [Laughs.] This n—a is really the shit. He hit Pun, my manager, and we met and kept in touch. He’s a mad scientist. It goes so many different ways with him, because he’s a true artist. He might be walking on eggshells or he might not, you know what I’m saying. Working with him improved my music.
For example, “Dog Year” is one long-ass verse broken up into three different verses. I went into the studio and did the whole verse. You can tell when Terrace is fucking with something, because he’ll focus and add the little tweaks here and there and then leave. I worked with him this whole year and the creativity was flowing. I listen to my old shit and I hate it now that I got this new ear for music from working with Terrace. His favorite word is “high-level.” So everything I’m doing is at the highest level.