Photo credit: GL Askew II
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G-Funk is a classic style of music. For those of us who remember its hayday, when we hear it, we get a little nostalgic. But, it has an energy that doesn't make it feel dated, it works today. The musicality and a cinematic storytelling make you feel in step with the emotional theatrics and the high sonic drama of contemporary rap made outside Cali; from Drake, to Thug, to Cardi. And there are the artists who make their work using the palette of G-Funk, and in so doing, prove that this particular art movement isn't over yet. There's more to be done within it. And Quick's still going, Ty keeps a hand in always, Kendrick sometimes, YG for sure, and G perch who we spoke to last week.
G Perico's songs demonstrate the durability of G-Funk and the range of concerns that can be expressed through it. In our interview he was comfortable with his contradictions and open to evolution. He's highly observant, ambitious, dedicated, and creative. He and his songs have depth, which is rarer than it outta be.
There's a lot in here for you, so lets get to it.
ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMAD: What up, G Perico?
G PERICO: Hey.
FRANNIE KELLEY: Thanks for coming.
ALI: I kind of felt that cause –
G PERICO: I know all of that shit word for word.
FRANNIE: Like what?
G PERICO: Like the whole tapes.
FRANNIE: Give me an example.
G PERICO: You want me to rap one?
FRANNIE: A little bit. Yeah. Maybe.
G PERICO: "We on award tour, with Muhammad my man. Going each and every place with a mic in their hand. D.C." Yeah. You know, shit like that. "Left my wallet in El" – the whole shit. My pops used to play that shit. Like, the a-side, b- – this back when it was tapes. My pops from Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Black Sheep. 3 Feet High And Rising, that's the only De La Soul CD I know. And then Black Sheep, they only got like one CD too, huh?
ALI: I think they have two actually, but the second one really didn't –
G PERICO: Yeah, so the first one, pretty much that and Ice Cube, that's all my pops played. And he always was driving somewhere, so that's what I really first – that's pretty much the first music I was all the way familiar with, was y'all shit.
ALI: That's crazy. But then again you were born just like right when we were getting started.
G PERICO: Right.
ALI: That's trippy. Nah, cause I'm –
FRANNIE: It make you feel old?
ALI: Yeah, I am old. It's not a "make me feel." It is true. I mean, my spirit's youthful, but, you know, got plenty of grey hairs on the body. But nah, I'm just trying to think of the stuff I grew up on, like Stevie Wonder, and actually, like, sitting and talking with him. It's a trip.
FRANNiE: When you spoke with Stevie you mean?
ALI: Yeah, so it's just kind of trippy, in trying to explain what his music meant, but I still feel so young in terms of hip-hop. But I don't know. You just saying that just kind of – it's a different revelation. Each time.
G PERICO: Yeah, that's real. When my boy told me about the show, I said, "Shit yeah!" What I say Pun? Hell yeah.
FRANNIE: I mean, what's so interesting to me about that – I'm probably closer in age to you than him, but still for me, records like Tribe or 3 Feet High And Rising, that was all the first time I heard a lot of R&B and funk music from earlier years. And so when I would hear those – the music that had been sampled or was influential, it sounded very different to me. And I wonder if that relates at all to the way you make your music, cause it seems to me that it kind of calls back to another era but from now?
G PERICO: Yeah, yeah. So I think that's where a lot of me doing – telling stories in my music come from listening to stuff like that. Cause a lot of the songs was like a story. From 3 Feet High And Rising, they had a lot of stories. It was like they was just introducing you to what they was doing in they life, in they world. So me just doing music and just saying anything and not really introducing myself to the people or letting them know where – or painting a picture of my life, I got that from older music.
Well, a lot of older music that I grew up on. Cause my pops, he used to – he listened to the same shit for years. And it was y'all, and then Ice Cube, Luke. Luke was probably the only thing that he listened to that wasn't really saying too much, but it was fun though. So I think my music is pretty much just naturally, without me even thinking, is similar to that shit.
But it's gangster though. Cause we was listening to that, but the n***** next door was listening to The Chronic and shit. Or Dogg Pound. All that shit. So I had to damn near go out to hear all the other type of shit.
FRANNIE: Leave your house to find it.
G PERICO: Yeah, for real. And then my uncle was big on music. He was in a similar lane, like De La Soul-type of dude, but this in L.A. though, so it was, you know, a little different. So I go outside, gangster shit. Go in the house, and we on the fly "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" and shit.
ALI: Did any of it turn you off? And I say that cause I remember – there's certain things that my grandmother would listen to, my mom would listen to, I would be like, "Nope. Not for me." But then there's other things that really made a huge impression.
G PERICO: You know what I hated? My grannie was like – her favorite group was Earth, Wind & Fire, right? And I did not like – I probably only like one of they songs. I didn't like none of that shit for some reason. Now, I go back and listen to it and kind of understand it. But Earth, Wind & Fire was a definite one that I wasn't feeling, and she used to play that shit all the time.
FRANNIE: Did your dad or your uncle ever say, "We want you to listen to music that's talking about something." Or, "We want to" –
G PERICO: Hell nah. They was just doing their thing.
G PERICO: And I was the same way my daughter is, just sitting there just peeping. I think it was just more than just the music, just everything that was going on. So when I listen to the music, I just remember a lot of different stuff. So it was just more so the music was like – was nothing that I never really paid attention to, but it was just the lifestyle. My uncle always had a gang of people at the house and shit, and they was all on that similar type of shit. So it wasn't like I was just hearing the music. I was getting the whole vibe, the whole – these n***** was living that same type of lifestyle, and I just picked up on all that shit, as well as other shit.
ALI: So as you – as a youngen absorbing all this, did you know early on that you were going to be making music?
G PERICO: Really no. But I was always good at reading. I could read real good, and I could write real good. Like, I could write essays and stories and poems and shit. So English was probably the only class that I liked, like as I started getting into junior high and really – in high school, I promise, that was the only class I went to. For real.
G PERICO: The rest of my report card was blank. When I wasn't in trouble, I'd just go to English class and then probation school was just one class. So I was pretty much good at writing poems and shit.
I never really thought about music, but it was around me. And my grannie had a back house. In one of the houses she had, it was a back house. And my uncle used to be back there with all the equipment and shit. This back when it was DATs. These n***** was sampling sounds like (taps on mic), tapping shit, sampling it. So I was around it, but I never really thought about it.
I was more interested in the n***** next door and down the street, the street shit.
ALI: So when did that flip over for you?
G PERICO: As I got involved into the street shit, the music kind of popped back up. Probably around – I was like 16, 17. The music popped back up. And it was pretty much second nature. I did a song, but I was like – I was doing gangster shit, right, but I was rapping like y'all, you know what I'm saying? And I never really – I ain't never even said this shit in an interview or nothing, but this the truth right here. I wish I could find, like, that first song I recorded.
I was rapping like – I was kicking knowledge and shit. You know. On some shit. But I was living – after that, after I go the studio, I go back to the spot, to the dope spot, with the homies, or the older homies. I be working one of my older homie's spots and shit, shit like that. And then –
FRANNIE: Wait. So what was the story? What was the studio that you went to to record that first song? What did it look like?
G PERICO: The studio – when I recorded the first song, it was on 115th and Van Ness. My guy D, DBG, Da Bad Guy, he a producer and shit. He actually a member of RZA band and shit. He play a gang of different instruments. I'm not sure what he play in RZA band. He was actually – he was a real good family friend and shit. He ended up living with us too after a while. But yeah, I recorded my first song with him.
FRANNIE: Was he like, "You need to come in. I see that you've been writing?"
G PERICO: Nah.
FRANNIE: What happened?
G PERICO: I was like, "Man, let me rap." Cause I had homies from my hood that was – they was – like, my homie Lil N that like help me a lot right now, he was a rapper at first. And they used to go out and do they shit locally, in the hood. They would go do shows for all the homies and shit. And I used to tell them like, "Man, what's up? I could rap. Get your little ass out here." So they not even knowing I know these dudes over here too. "What's up, man. I want to rap." "Ah, man. Come through." He gave me a beat. We did the shit.
I used to – I had a VHS, like a camcorder, but the one that still had the small tape in it, before shit was all the way digital. I had one of them. I used to walk around recording shit. And we used to do like – me and my homie Snook used to shoot videos in the backyard. We used to do all type of shit, man. This some shit I never said. Ever.
But yeah, D, he the first person, recorded my first song, and then I brung the CD to the block, to the spot on 111th Place, played it. My homie went crazy. He snatched the CD out and started running through the whole hood playing it for everybody.
But it wasn't like – it was nothing like how I am right now, how I rap. My tone was East Coast, and the way I was flipping the bars and shit was East Coast. And then I just gradually grew into the lifestyle of me actually making music of shit that I actually did and seen, not shit that I got from somewhere else.
ALI: What were some of your peers like when you were rapping like that? What was the temperature of everyone else around you?
G PERICO: It was super violent around that time, when I first ever did it. And then, I wasn't trying to rap neither then. I was trying to sell dope and gang-bang and shit.
FRANNIE: You talking like early 2000s?
G PERICO: Yeah, 2003. 2003, yeah. So, you know, I was trying to make a name for myself in the streets, as a kid. And with all the violence going on, my whole shit was – I mean, it's kind of good that it happened like that, but sometimes I wished it would've happened earlier. But with all the violence and shit going on, my whole thing was like, "I don't want to be a victim." So the music shit was like, "Fuck that. I'm about to make sure that n***** is not jumping on me, shooting me, killing me. Whatever it is. I gotta be the aggressor." So that kind of took away from the music.
So that was pretty much the temperature in the area, but all my friends was rappers, like, knew how to rap. My homie Snook. My homie Lil Greg, rest in peace. Pooh. And everybody I was with moved faster than me. So I was just pretty much a sponge. Everybody I was with was older than me too. So that was pretty much the temperature. We was having fun but not really trying to make music at all.
ALI: So you're in this place now where you have all these experiences, and you have these incredible influences, like stuff you mentioned, and you're making music that sounds very classic. Do you get that a lot?
G PERICO: Yeah, I get that a lot. Sometimes it bothers me a little bit, and then sometimes it doesn't. Because I just look at it like, when I get compared to something that happened already, it's like, are you doing something – are you really doing some groundbreaking shit? Or are you just like, I would say, a carbon copy of some shit that happened 20 years ago?
FRANNIE: Well, I was talking to Ali earlier about how I kind of feel when you do things that do sort of sound like they're in the lineage of very classic California g-funk, it's more about the durability and just broadness of that style. It wasn't done. There's so much more to do within it.
G PERICO: Right. I do feel like I'm expanding, and I'm doing something new along the lines – because now rap is so big it's like different genres of rap now. You know what I mean? So I'm under a specific genre.
So now I just feel like it's my job to take it and just – what I'm finna say, I don't know if it'll make sense, but I want people to either hate it or love it. Like, not cool. I don't want to be just cool, like, "It's cool. Yeah, this shit cool." I want them to either be like, "Man, this shit is bullshit," or, "This shit is great."
I feel like that's how you really leave your mark in the game, not just being, like, whatever. Cause everybody that was cool – you've been around since the beginning. Everybody that was cool since the beginning, where are they at in history? They not even brought up!
So that's really my whole thing outside of money, everything. i want to be in the history books. My whole thing is: either you gon' love it or hate it. No – I don't want in-between. In-between gon' get on my nerves. Like, fuck that.
ALI: What I think is really interesting about you is that in this climate where – hip-hop is – it's in a – I think for me, and I'm just saying this as just someone who's been in it for a long time, it's in a questionable place. And I don't think people are really challenging themselves as best as they can, and you are coming with something that's extremely classic and taking such a different approach that's adverse to everything else that's going on, which is pretty brave.
And I think the strength and consistency of your songs having such a classic feel, during this time, it probably is making it more of an uphill battle for you in certain places, but I think it will solidify you a bit more. Cause I think it makes people recognize the real and the standout from the noise of everything else that's going on. But I certainly hope that the message gets through.
G PERICO: Oh yeah, it's –
ALI: Without you having to change who you are.
G PERICO: Right. But I just feel like, a lot of shit end how it start, right? And how rap started, what made shit so dope, even when I was growing up in the '90s, early 2000s, everybody was different. It was kind of wack – it wasn't fun – like, right now, I feel like a lot of shit, it's like, you hear the same song over and over.
But that's really my whole mission, is to be the opposite of everything that's going on. And then it just so happened that the shit that I do is, like, the complete opposite. And I feel like that will solidify me in a bigger realm, because when you look at at all the greatest artists right now – it's loads. It's shitloads of artists now. But when you look at all the best, the top tier artists of today, everybody is different, all the top artists.
You probably got one or two artists that are part of the shit that everybody does right now, like the trap, mumble, high as fuck, dumb – not dumb shit. It's entertaining. It's fun, but like, you know, "I'm going dumb. I'm high. Fuck everything." So you got J. Cole. You got Kendrick. Then you got Future. These all the top tier artists, but they all different. So I think my whole thing is just maintaining my identity and difference, just grabbing it.
Because even when Kendrick – we don't even make the same type of music, but it's like a similar scenario. Because when he was coming up, everybody out here was just on straight gangster shit, and they was like, "That's some weirdo shit." And now he's the top – one of the top guys. Him, Drake. Even Drake. N***** in the street was like, "Fuck Drake," and now he's the greatest. So I feel like I'm in a kind of similar position right now. It really don't make sense to everybody right now.
And that's what I like too. Cause when it cross over, it's going to be like probably just the greatest shit ever – to somebody.
ALI: It's banging now. Can we talk about some of your songs? So a song like "Wit Me Or Not," the introduction on that, where is that from?
G PERICO: That was a documentary that I was watching. Basically it was ex-police dude, and he was explaining how the FBI intentionally basically ruined the black community, anything positive, from the Panthers, everything. They sent COINTELPRO. They paid motherfuckers. The same shit they do today, but everybody too high and just acting stupid to like realize what's going on. I'm on some ignorant shit too, but I mean, you can't hide from the facts and the truth.
So basically they would send people, they would pay people to infiltrate the organizations and shit, and basically destroy the black shit, which is like – exactly what's happening today is, like, they main mission. Everybody fucking high and acting stupid and shit, and mimicking, I wouldn't say bullshit, but just like – I guess the cool thing right now is to just act like you ain't got a brain. And basically that, that was some shit that the FBI created.
FRANNIE: You mean like in music or you mean in pop culture period?
G PERICO: In music definitely. Cause you know culture, like I said, how y'all influenced me, like, shit, I was rapping like I was from the fucking East Coast initially. So the pop culture has a big effect on the ghetto, and even though the ghetto is just a small speck of pepper in the world, it got a big influence on the world. Cause some of the most ghetto-est n***** do the biggest shit and influence the world.
The ghetto influenced the youth in white America, you know what I'm saying? Middle America. And that's biggest part of America. So yeah, pop culture right now is – it's like nobody really kicking no knowledge, and it's just all the effect of shit that happened back then.
ALI: Yeah. What do you hope that people listening to your music, when they hear a song like that – cause you set it off like that, but then you kind of flip a little bit. What do you hope that people get from a song like that?
G PERICO: So basically the meaning for that song was – so I started it off, you know, the FBI came in and infiltrated and fucked shit up, so when I say, "My n*****, is you with me or not? I need to know right now." Basically like, "Man, don't let nobody divide what we building and what we doing and the strength of what we got going on." And I just said it in a way that I understand and how I see shit, and I see shit from spots, raids, gang-banging shit. But the strength of being together could change the climate of us growing up in fucked up shit. You know what I'm saying?
G PERICO: And sticking together and not letting the outside destroy what we building.
ALI: Are you speaking specifically to your community, or are you speaking outside of that? And I ask that because perfect example is right now. The microscope is on the FBI right now. They're trying to express that they have such a clean and pure image, and they're people from – who look different from you and I, who probably have been – or have family members that's probably more akin to the Ku Klux Klan. They feeling a certain way. They feeling the same way basically.
G PERICO: No doubt. It's like a – we got kin to a Black Panther or the Black Panther lineage, so naturally we got a little bit of revolution in us.
G PERICO: And going against the grain. So a lot of white people, they great-great-grandfathers was slaveowners, Ku Klux Klan, and I'm saying that to say this: the hate and the racist shit and the mission, it get passed down generations.
ALI: Yeah. I think my – what my question, and I didn't make it clearer, is that do you think your music is reaching out to those people who right now are looking at the FBI from a different perspective, like right now today, they're looking at – thinking that they're not maybe as clean as investigators as –
G PERICO: Oh yeah. No doubt.
ALI: Do you think your music speaks to those people?
G PERICO: Yeah. That's the whole purpose, to point out the flaw in the organization. It's designed basically not for justice. It's designed to keep motherfuckers oppressed. And they use media to make shit look like something that it's not, to throw people off. But like the history and reports and motherfuckers from the FBI has proven that the shit has been foul since fucking J. Edgar Hoover and before. You know what I'm saying? Just killing n***** that had the power to help people and help uplift people and just setting people up. So yeah, I definitely – my mission is to definitely keep people aware that these motherfuckers not to be trusted.
Some people got good intentions but the overall mission of the FBI, that's like when you join a fucking gang. And a lot of gangs didn't start like that, but right now it's like, n****, violence. You might not be a violent person. You might be a great, good-hearted person, but when you join and be in certain circles, the mission of the shit, you a part of that, even if you do it or not. From the outside looking in, you just – you a fucking terrorist. So the mission of the FBI is to fuck us over.
FRANNIE: And also maybe it's not enough to just be a good person within the system.
G PERICO: Right. That's not –
FRANNIE: If the system exists, you're implicated.
G PERICO: Yeah. You gotta be a – a good person in a fucked up system gotta be a bad person to be good, if that makes sense.
ALI: That's insane. Yeah. It makes sense. It's just insane.
FRANNIE: It makes total sense. Do you have hope that what you make will do what you want it to do?
G PERICO: I never really thought that deep about it. I just speak on shit that's right in my face. But I definitely got hope and vision. Cause without vision, we dead. So yeah, man. It's a battle though. But my whole thing like – see, it's a lot to my music. So I point out this to say this: even though it's fucked up, you gotta take care of your shit. You gotta put yourself in a position where you can change yourself, and then you can help others and shit like that.
But going through all this – it's just my music is so intricate and so much shit involved in it, I don't even know how to explain it right now. But I know it's more than just that one subject.
FRANNIE: Right. Because it's you. It's all of you.
G PERICO: RIght. Right. So yeah, I definitely got hope that, first of all, people in my community that I know and love and grew up with could get they shit together and just start understanding shit.
FRANNIE: Yeah, it's just pushing for incremental change. You know what I mean?
G PERICO: Right.
FRANNIE: And doing it, the work on yourself, I understand that that's we're all doing and we have to do, but it's hard cause in the movies there's a moment of victory or, like, just something dramatic so that you know that something is different now. And it's really really hard to just see those things.
G PERICO: That's why my music got a lot of shit that's going on right now and shit. That's why I like to talk about everything, because I can't just show up on my block and be like – and just be this drastic change. Nobody gon' listen to me. They gon' be like, "This n**** that went fucking crazy. Get the fuck out of here." So I gotta keep a certain edge for me to even be a voice to help people. So I still gotta be ignorant, and I still gotta talk that shit, just for motherfuckers could just receive certain messages to take with you. Because if I repel everybody from, you know – then how I can help?
G PERICO: I'ma be the only n**** stand on the hill. And then after that, then when nobody listen to me, I'll probably never be a better person, but it'll be like, "Man, fuck them n***** down there." Then nobody get help. You know?
ALI: Yeah. It's a tough balancing act.
G PERICO: Right.
FRANNIE: I mean, you deal with that, right?
ALI: You know what? I'll say this. I don't come from where you come from. Brooklyn, New York is way different than South Central, L.A. Perfect example. There's a gang culture in New York now, but when I was growing up, that didn't exist. As a New Yorker, you had the freedom to find yourself in the chasm of, like, federal gangsters. And what I mean by that is the FBI, CIA, NSA, all of that. And we had the freedom and flexibility, at least in our neighborhoods, to try and figure out how to coexist in this framework of America.
I can't imagine having to grow up and when you walk outside your door, you have to make a choice right then and there of who you're aligning yourself with to be able to feel like you got freedom. So that right there, when you asked me about balancing that, I don't feel that way. I feel that my parents were civil rights activists and they instilled certain things in me where I felt compelled to – I guess it's the same thing – represent myself, where I come from, how I am. No different than what you do. I think I may just have one less obstacle to get over.
And when you are in an environment where everybody's thinking one way but then you go to the other side of the world and you go, "Oh, wow." It's like that. And I think you kind of mention that even, in a few of your songs. Like, you on this side. You trying to stop all of this other lifestyle. You not going back, like you say. You trying to move forward. I don't know if for me it's as challenging of a balancing act.
Because where I'm from people are thinking like me. It's not like I go back and be like, "Oh, Ali, you went to Mecca. You came back, and now you talking stuff I don't understand." I don't have those sort of challenges. And so that's why I said for you, I think, and where you coming from and what you trying to achieve for yourself, for your family, and for your community, it's a little bit – it's challenging, I think.
G PERICO: It's a definite battle. And then really staying creative along a lot of that shit. Cause right now I got a store in my area, basically artist merch but just a lot of other shit, little knick-knacks for people to stop through.
FRANNIE: What's it called? So Way Out?
G PERICO: Yeah, So Way Out. And the only reason I did it right there is because I really fucked the area up. Not like kicking holes in walls and shit, but I was misled, and I misled – it's a generation of homies under me, and then it's the young brand new homies. And the people right up under me got a side of me that was – I wouldn't say no conscience, but you know, kind of fucked up.
ALI: The next level.
G PERICO: Yeah. So my whole thing is the ghettos and L.A. morphing into – you know how when crack hit and shit, and then everything just got fucked up and certain n***** turned into kingpins? Well, now n***** not even turning into kingpins, but everybody smoked out on this meth. So I'm over there just to give the youth something to look at. Like, "G around here. G on TV, radio. Yadadadada. He got nice cars. He around here existing."
I just feel like I owe a lot, cause a lot of n***** that was under me got life and shit now, and I be wondering like, "Damn, is it because how I used to act and make them" – cause they used to look up to me and shit. So my whole shit is to just – don't come over there preaching and shit. The preachy shit don't work. I hated n***** that was preachy when I was coming up.
I'm just around just basically now just like I always been doing, leading by example, but now it's a different example set.
ALI: That's dope.
G PERICO: But it's tricky. I think if I was never part of a gang or anything like that. I probably wouldn't be under so much pressure, not even as an artist, just a human. Because I could talk that shit all day, but it's like, it just get to a point like, "Damn." You gotta do – you gotta help somebody. Money ain't gon' help nobody, I don't think, just giving it out. That don't help nobody.
G PERICO: For real.
FRANNIE: You mention trying to keep your creativity with all these responsibilities. That was actually the first question I wanted to ask you. It was about your imagination, how you keep it fertile kind of.
G PERICO: I got so many life stories. I don't really like to say all this shit myself, because sometimes it might seem like – it just steal from the whole little shit. But I just been in so many different scenarios, like a real life movie.
Just imagine, like, alright, coming from the shit, how we started the interview, I'm a kid. We listening to fucking Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and shit. Then I come outside. My family wasn't a bad family, but it just really wasn't no direction like that. So now I come outside early, 12, 13 years old, and get involved in gang shit. But not even – not regular gang shit, like actually hanging around the killers and the big dope dealers and shit, you know what I'm saying?
So that basically turned into my family, so I was in all the scenarios that you see on TV. If I wasn't directly in them, I was probably right there watching like, "Fuck." And then going to all the juvenile shit and having the reputation in the streets, then going to prison twice, and then now I'm here at this – like, a super blessing. I live in the fucking hills. I live in the hills! And I was like – a lot of dudes that I grew up with that might've been not as bad as me or maybe worse than me or similar did not fucking make it.
So the shit is crazy. It's crazy as fuck. So as far as me being creative and imagination, I got so many stories and firsthand life lessons.
FRANNIE: So you're saying that – I mean, yes.
G PERICO: I do a lot of reflecting as opposed to, you know, imagining shit.
FRANNIE: Right. Yeah, I mean, I guess I'm just thinking about the way you phrase things sometimes or your hooks. I mean sometimes when you're a kid and you see things that change your worldview or that don't make sense to you all of sudden, it can free you up to be open to more possibilities. Like, nobody else has written it this way, why wouldn't I write it a new way?
G PERICO: Right. Exactly. Yeah, now that's another – that's something different right there. OK, so now that you say it like that, as far as delivery and how – that's what I'm working on right now with all my new shit, because it's like, so far my patterns been just super aggressive, and now I'm trying to – same message, but with a little more replay value because how I say it. You know what I mean?
G PERICO: Or how I deliver it. So yeah, I've been doing – that's basically just cutting the mic on and just playing around or just riding, rapping to myself, or when I get a good idea, record it on my voice memos. That's a – now that's been a mission right there.
FRANNIE: Mhmm. I mean, that's also sort of a – that goes back to what you were saying about him being brave, because it's not a guaranteed payday really.
G PERICO: Yeah. That's the craziest part, and like I said, I wasn't trying to be an artist until late. But I used to see certain dudes, and I never really understood what they was going through, because I'd probably be hustling or living fast. But I think that was probably the blessing with me now. I know how to survive during that – you might not make no money for fucking six months.
ALI: Eighteen months sometimes.
G PERICO: Exactly. And you still gotta provide and live. So yeah, that's something right there. But being a natural hustler, I got the merch store and shit like that, and a few other things. Because I noticed that early. Like, damn. Like, me and Pun was rocking – Pun a good dude, cause we was together – during the first year after Shit Don't Stop, we didn't really make no – especially him!
FRANNIE: Ten percent.
G PERICO: He get a cut off of me. We ain't make no fucking money like that. We spent money.
G PERICO: So that's definitely – I respect every artist that's serious to the craft, because that shit – you trying to do something – like, a lot of artists just doing shit for money, which don't never work. But a lot of real artists, they trying to give the world something, a piece of art, and just maybe open people up on they views and how they feel. And it's loads of people that feel the same and gon' love it and wake up and live by this shit.
So I respect every artist that's willing to go through that shit. It's worse than fucking trying to be a doctor, but it's similar though. You know what I mean?
FRANNIE: Well, cause you have to go to, like, medical school for yourself.
G PERICO: Exactly.
FRANNIE: Like your actual being.
G PERICO: Right.
FRANNIE: You have to get to know yourself and how you're different, and then not be scared to just show people.
G PERICO: And that's hard to do in the world like this today.
FRANNIE: It takes at least seven years.
G PERICO: You see a lot of artists, they not even getting a chance to know theyself right now. They just getting some motherfucking lean and some pills and some designer shit and like, "Oh, what's Woopdewoop doing? Alright, I'm finna do like that." So they not really giving the world nothing. They not even really giving theyself nothing, maybe a brief payday. But they say the rap game is like the dope game now. That's how n***** was selling crack. Like, shit, n****, it's no vision to this shit.
But yeah, I respect everybody that – cause that shit is difficult, even trying to be – even being yourself. Because a lot of motherfuckers talk shit to me about certain shit that I do, and you gotta be strong. I think initially when I first stepped off the porch, I didn't have strength like that. That's why I joined a gang and shit, and did a lot shit of that I did, because I didn't want to be the guy on the other side of the troubles. So that shit is – that's a real mission, coming from the ghetto to just be able to open up and be yourself and give the people something.
G PERICO: Yeah.
G PERICO: Hell yeah.
ALI: You want to mention any of the people that you felt like you made the best music with? Up until this point.
G PERICO: Westside Webb. I would say me and Webb probably made the best music together up until this point. Westside Webb. We did "Shit Don't Stop." We did that on 108th and Broadway, right on the side of my store and shit. That was around the time I got shot in front of the studio and shit. Just a gang of stuff was going on. Baby mama was hiding my daughter from me. And just all that aggression, he was matching it with the beats, and I was just – that was probably the best project, as far as me – outside of the new shit. But I think I did the best shit with Webb.
FRANNIE: So Pun worked with Nipsey also, right?
G PERICO: Pun done worked with everybody out here.
G PERICO: Everybody. From – I would say like from Glasses Malone era till right now, he do a little – he help everybody in some type of way.
FRANNIE: I mean, that's a really interesting –
G PERICO: If he see something.
FRANNIE: That's exactly what I was going to ask about. Like, his vision for people.
G PERICO: Yeah, he got a – I definitely respect Pun vision. It's a lot of shit I didn't understand at first, coming from the street-side, and then street loyalty and all that shit. And it don't really work in the artistic and music, and we introducing something to the big world. It don't work. So yeah, Pun is a cold individual.
FRANNIE: And then the other well-known person that was involved at some point with you was Yams, right?
G PERICO: Yams was the very first person – I don't know. Maybe Yams just sensed the East Coast vibe in me through the West Coast shit. But Yams – so I was in jail. I was in Lancaster Prison and shit. And my boy gave me a cellphone, in the building and shit. So I called Jay Worthy, FaceTime, FaceTimed J Worthy. "Yo, what's up?" And I never really did – but I was in jail. I called Worthy. Boom.
Then I talked to Yams in prison, and I had a song called "Bustin," and they would send me videos to my phone of them in New York all over the place, Harlem, everywhere, just going up, driving to the song. I'm like, "Shit. This is" – and then I'm like, "Man, who is Yams?" You know what I'm saying? And then I look him up, and I'm like, "Oh, he the dude with Rocky." But I wasn't knowing the depth of him being the dude with Rocky. He like Pun with me. Direction is a lot in this shit. Direction is like more important than – well, I think it's equally important as the shit you say. But direction is fucking important.
So I wasn't even knowing, and then when I got out, we did a song. He came to the hood. I said, "Oh, damn. I fucks with this dude." Cause I got a hundred crazy n***** on the block, and he just fall right – he not standing next to me. He just fall right in and disappear somewhere. So Yams was a special dude, and he – it wasn't only me. It was loads of – probably like a hundred different motherfuckers that he was showing this same love and seen in them.
Yams was a real visionary. I actually was supposed to – Yams was supposed to get a job I think at Sony he was telling me or somewhere.
FRANNIE: That makes sense.
G PERICO: So I was actually going to sign with Yams before he died and shit.
I got a conversation – the crazy thing – I got a phone conversation with Yams. Cause he's a jokester. I'm a jokester. And we on FaceTime. And my camera man – I bought a 7D, and I'm like, "Bro, just record everything we doing, everywhere we go and shit." And I was on his ass cause he wasn't getting good footage. I had just got done, "N****, you fucking not recording? What are you doing?" I'm going big on him.
And Yams hit me. I'm in the studio sitting. We joking back and forth, and then we hang up. I look back. Man, this n**** recorded the whole phone conversation, right? I said, "N****, I told you – n****, don't ever record my conversations." And it was good. It was good that he did that. I got that on a hard drive, and I just probably – I don't know. Maybe one day, I'll put it out, but keep it for my – and then I didn't want to put it out where n***** be like, "He trying to capitalize off of Yams." Like, nah, I really fuck with Yams. He was a dope dude.
He actually said he wanted to start rapping, and he wanted me to write his verse. No bullshit. Yeah. That was my guy.
G PERICO: And I was the first song he talked on, my song, me, Jay Worthy, and Earl Swavey.
ALI: Can you, for people – the aspiring artists, when you say direction is important, can you explain that so that they –
G PERICO: OK. Direction is pretty much your message. What's your message? Who are you? Who do you want to capture with this? What type of audience do you want to have? That's pretty much all direction. How you want to look, how you want people to perceive you, because that's important too. It'll be hard to – like MC Hammer. He came out dancing and shit and then he went gangster, and then it just didn't, like – you know what I'm saying? That's direction and perception.
Every human being evolves. It's a natural evolution. You born. You do shit. You get better, and then you die. That's evolution. So every person evolves, but direction'll make sure that you evolve in the right way and you don't lose nobody. And then musical direction too. Because you could evolve, and then the new music, nobody fucking with that shit, which happens a lot in rap. I think –
ALI: It's true.
G PERICO: I think now that rap getting old, it's cool to evolve now, but you gotta just stay along – you also gotta stay somewhere along the lines of what's going on and what's current, but be you.
FRANNIE: Yeah, because people can tell much better than they get credit for.
G PERICO: Right.
FRANNIE: Like, we can tell if somebody's being not themselves.
G PERICO: Yeah.
FRANNIE: Can you answer those questions for yourself? Like, what your message is, who you are, what you want your audience to be.
G PERICO: My original initial audience was just my hood at first, and then it was city. And now it's just –
FRANNIE: Was that because you didn't – you couldn't picture it going beyond –
G PERICO: Nah, I didn't – I'ma keep it real. I didn't even all the way believe. That's why I'm like, "Damn. I'm super blessed." Because I didn't think it was gon' happen. I probably halfway didn't even want it to happen, cause I was scared.
FRANNIE: Yeah, that's very real.
G PERICO: My audience was just the few people in my crew. Then it grew, and now it's just everybody that respects the culture.
So who I am as an artist, naturally I'm a person, but I'm a gangster rapper, but bigger. But more so a gangster rapper, like, I'm like a mix of a lot of different things. I'm a hybrid, the same way I was in the streets. So I'm a mix between – and a contradiction. You know what I'm saying? I'm a mix between gangster rapper, ignorant pimp shit, love, hate, all that shit. I'm a mix of all that.
And the message that I want to send, my main message, is really to the people like me. And then – well, I'll get to the world next. Well, to the people like me, that, you know, shit is possible. You just gotta believe. And also all these different street scenarios that I talk about. Like, I'm damn near like a textbook, cause I went through the shit and I see how it go, how to play certain scenarios, what to stay away from. If you in the shit, do it like this. So I'm basically like a guidebook.
To the world, it's pretty much entertainment. I'm basically exploiting myself, like motherfuckers been doing for years. Like, "Come to the ghetto. Do a movie about some ghetto shit. Make a classic. Exploit what we doing." So, you know, I'm basically just entertaining the world and exploiting myself, whatever my thoughts may be at that time or that period of me being an artist and a person.
FRANNIE: I want to ask about your ignorant and pimp-type moments.
G PERICO: Yeah.
FRANNIE: Does it ever give you pause when you talk about just sending somebody back to you and whatever?
G PERICO: What you mean – like pause like –
FRANNIE: Do you ever hesitate? Do you know – is there a part of you that wouldn't like to hear yourself described in that way?
G PERICO: Nah, not necessarily. Because it was actually, you know, me, some shit I been involved in or did. So it's like, I wouldn't hate to hear it, but that's not all that I am. I would hate to hear it if they be like, "This pimp gangster," minus all the other stuff.
FRANNIE: I meant if you were described – if somebody were to describe you the way you sometimes describe women when you're in those moments, those ignorant moments.
G PERICO: Oh, if somebody was – if the roles was reversed?
FRANNIE: Yeah, exactly.
G PERICO: Yeah, that's actually – yeah. Cause, like, b**** and hoe and shit and all that, that's kind of, where I come from, like no-no. That's, like, fight. I got into a lot of fights behind language.
FRANNIE: Yeah, but also when women are called those words, like –
G PERICO: It's like – I'm happy you asked that. It's different types of people and different levels of people, men and females. You got bitch-ass n***** and snitch-ass n*****. That's not everybody. Then you got hoe-ass b****** that do hoe shit, and just like me being – it was never really nothing that I chose. It was just something that was there. So I know all about it.
And then you got women – you got different women that's not for that type of shit. And then you got – just like you got men that's for the gangster shit, you got the n**** that's, "I go to work." You got the dude that's, "I'm not about to work or do shit. I'm finna just sit on the couch." Then you got females that's hoes. You got females that's women. You got family, ladies. You got the women that uplift. So maybe I think it probably wouldn't be as harsh if I just spoke on all the different type of women.
But coming from where I come from, you don't know all these different type of people. You know fucking gangsters and hoes, and then the people in the community that got jobs that do good, they stay in the house. So we don't have no – it's people that's been on my block for as long as me, and we never spoke or talked. They go straight in the house. So, it's just shit that I – just things that I know. I would never really speak on or rap about or – cause I'm basically telling people – I'm basically reporting shit. So I could never really rap about shit that I don't know.
FRANNIE: I guess my only quibble with that is that –
G PERICO: Show some love to the ladies.
FRANNIE: – within – we were talking about this system before, right, talking about the FBI and everybody. But there's also the system in which when a man sleeps around just as much as a women who might later get called a hoe, she gets hit with a derogatory word for doing the same shit –
G PERICO: OK. I get that part too. But it's like, being promiscuous don't necessarily make you a whore, you know what I mean?
G PERICO: Nah, it's like, you having fun and living your life. It's just a lot of things that come with the actual – the real terminology of a hoe. But back in the – I can't really speak on back in the day, I wasn't there. So I ain't going to speak on that. But yeah, so, I mean, I guess you could say I do a lot of hoe-type shit, like having sex with different – men do that shit too, but it's a different word. They call them players.
FRANNIE: Right. That's that system.
G PERICO: And then you got female players. So it's a real thin line with all that.
G PERICO: It's a super thin line.
ALI: This might put that part into a different sort of a context. You, being a writer and exploring poetry, having lived this life, have a lot of details that you present in music. Have you thought about making a film? And I say that because if you look at what Martin Scorsese does, he makes nothing but gangster movies. And people never get exhausted on that, and they don't question the characters, the choice of words. He's just really explicitly –
FRANNIE: They do. I understand exactly what you're saying.
ALI: I don't hear a lot of criticism on Martin Scorsese. Maybe there –
FRANNIE: Women talk about it.
ALI: OK. So I'm not in the know, and thank you for letting me know. We definitely can go into that a little bit deeper. But my point is there isn't a lot of, I think, public scrutiny on filmmakers –
G PERICO: Nah, not at all.
ALI: – pecific type of filmmakers, and someone like Martin Scorsese, who just consistently gives you the same foundation of gangster life.
FRANNIE: It's the same story in different settings basically.
ALI: But in different settings, and he tells it different ways. So you have a very successful show like Snowfall. That's on FX. So I'm just wondering, cause the music is definitely a vessel to do that, but have you thought about maybe taking all that and taking it to a different level, because a lot of people haven't really had that sort of hands-on experience, and so some of what is brought forth in film and television is fictional based off of reading other stories.
G PERICO: Right. And it don't seem real.
ALI: It don't seem real.
G PERICO: So yeah, like I said earlier, English and writing stories was one of my best, like, natural gifts. So before I wrote a rap, I wrote stories that could be similar to movies and shit like that. And I actually got a few scripts right now that I'm working on.
Project Shit Don't Stop – I guess you could say my breakthrough project to the underground scene – was actually a movie first. I wrote a whole movie. Shit Don't Stop was basically my story up until the music shit. And I got with a few cats that was into movies, but they was also into music too. And instead of the movie, like, "Let's do it a movie," a short film deal or some type of shit, it just – twice, it turned into a record contract in my face, and I'm like, "Nah, I'm good."
But that's definitely what I want to evolve into, making movies and shit. I'm actually working on a short that I'ma start. I'ma start doing little content for YouTube and shit, just to get started somewhere.
ALI: Or episodic series like, you know –
ALI: I definitely see that.
G PERICO: Yeah. That's crazy you asked that, cause that's exactly where my mind is at.
Because with music, the way I see the music game – and when you look at it, it make a lot of sense – everybody that last a long time, 20 years – it's not really too many – but everybody that last 20 years had a lot of other successes to champion the music success, to keep them going like, "Oh shit, this motherfucker is" – but also still making music that people like though. That's another main part.
But when you look at artists that try – maybe call it making a comeback. Making a comeback is hard. If you never – if you just step to the side for a second and was successful in all this other shit and now I'm doing music again, it's not really – I wouldn't call that making a comeback.
So a lot of artists that try to make the comeback that maybe might've – so let's say for example like Jay-Z, boom, OK. Jay-Z might not put out an album for a few years, but he's so successful and iconic and doing so many different things and in the community, when he drop a project, it's good.
FRANNIE: He can, like, actually retire.
G PERICO: Right. And E-40 still got the streets and shit, and he been around since 80-something. But he got all these other things going along with it. Now you would like – now let's say somebody like DMX. He was a great artist, but if he put out an album right now, nobody's gon' fuck with it.
So really my whole thing is I gotta expand into these different areas as far as – because everything, it all coincides to music entertainment, which is like movies, acting and shit. That's what I would call – it's all entertainment though. Fashion, and just the entrepreneurship, expand on that and show that and just get that longevity out here.
ALI: When's the next project dropping?
G PERICO: The next project is in the few weeks. It's coming early August. It's called Guess What. It's an EP. I got a song on there that's a little different this time, geared towards the females as opposed to me just bitching and hoeing and shit. It's more so me just – I wouldn't say explaining how I feel or how she feel, maybe just like a mutual feeling, you know what I'm saying? But it's still kind of ratchet and ignorant at the same time, but it's more so traditional, in the street way, outside of pimping and hoeing and shit. So, you know, it's like ghetto love song.
FRANNIE: So it's like you're evolving in every way.
G PERICO: Yeah. I'm evolving in every way. And then we got – of course we got the gangster shit and the fun shit and speaking on what's going on with me.
FRANNIE: I'm really glad we got to talk to you at this moment in your career, because it really feels like you're in the middle of something.
G PERICO: Yeah, I definitely feel like I'm in a transitional period, because life changing, the way I look at shit changing, but it's still edgy. The way I hear music is changing. And then I'm just in between – I'm at the point like, am I gon' be something in the music shit or not? That's the point where I'm at right now, and it's a tricky point, but we're having fun with it so it's all good.
ALI: Keep having fun with it.
FRANNIE: We're glad you're here.
ALI: Seems like we could keep talking to you.
ALI: And I normally don't rush a guest at all, but today is a hectic day for –
G PERICO: Nah, it's all good, man. I know how it go. I got my daughter too. Shit. So I ain't mad at you.
ALI: She's real chill though.
FRANNIE: She's so sweet for just waiting.
ALI: She's just – she's not pulling on your shirt.
G PERICO: Yeah, she's super cool until she get away from everybody.
FRANNIE: Well, thanks to her for coming.
G PERICO: Yeah. No doubt.
ALI: And thanks to you for coming –
G PERICO: No doubt, man. Appreciate it.
ALI: – and kicking it with us.
G PERICO: Thanks for having me.
ALI: Of course. Yeah.