His is a familiar story—a gang member starts hustling his music, converting his street cred into rap. The South Central Los Angeles rapper, G Perico, broke through in 2017 with his well-received albums, All Blue and 2 Tha Left. Those albums were vivid. I heard the lyrics and saw a life. The music spider-walked across the room with Perico’s taut, nasal delivery—confident, but with pinched nerves. The breakout attention from that year may have waned, but his ambitions have not.
“Free. This is the beginning of my 2021 run, my 12-month run, my quadruple-my-worth run. And consider this a five-course meal. And we just now pulling up to the restaurant. We in valet right now,” Perico promises on Free, a six-track EP he released in early January. He followed up quickly, releasing Welcome to the Land just two weeks later. Even more is expected this year, along with a clothing line.
But Free is imbalanced—the first half much better than the last. In the song “INNERPRIZE CLICC,” Perico advises, "Treat the city like a safe—we're gonna bust this shit open. If you're trying to get paid, stay away from your emotions." His syncopated delivery over the low-end piano keys satisfies, especially at the song’s refrain—“Keep shit goin’.” On “Never Made Statements,” he boasts, "From the bottom, take this shit straight to the top. Every thirty days, a couple hundred grand in the pot." He flits from hype to grievances to loyalties as you ride with him, turning corners through the neighborhood.
More riches follow on “Talk About It,” in which he counts down experiences: “I learned how to drive in the ’85 Cutlas; .38—first gun I ever busted; 100 eighths—first time I got busted; eating spreads out the liquor store—I really come from nothing. I can talk about the life ‘cause I live it. I can talk about money ‘cause I get it. I can talk about foreigns ‘cause I drive those. I can slide through the city with my eyes closed. I can talk about coming up from nothing. Made a lot of money, but I’m still in a struggle.” His chin up, vocal elbows above thumping beats, a few chords scratched out of an old record. But, after “Talk About It,” the quality of Free nosedives.
Fortunately, Welcome to the Land offers nine new songs. The Land is, of course, South Central LA, where welcomes can be deceiving. On “Street Paranoia,” G Perico runs us through it: “He greet me with a smile, and I start drinkin’, and when I hit the weed, I start thinkin’ what such-and-such said that he said about me. Niggas hate me when I’m gone but love me when they around me. Should I ask him? He goin’ deny it, like, ‘G, you my nigga! Them muthafuckas lyin’!’ Feeling like these niggas faking like they with me. Might be all in my mind—shit, I might be trippin’.” And in the refrain: “I really don’t know if it’s the enemy or the homie when I see him; don’t know to be happy or nervous—should I serve him? I ain’t no sucka; niggas know I got my name from shootin’ muthafuckas. I really don’t know if it’s the enemy or the homie when I see him; don’t know to be happy or nervous—should I get him? Shit’s tricky; can’t sit around and let no nigga get me.”
G Perico expresses feelings in tension about his West Coast home, like on the album’s title song: “That’s LA for you—niggas gonna bang on you then pull that thang on you. I swear I love it here. I swear I ain’t leaving until they bury me deep up under here.” The tension has its best moment on “Sunday Night,” my favorite song on Welcome to the Land: “Sunday night: bring your gold, nigga, bring your ice. Bring your cars, nigga, bring your bikes. Suede bucket seats with the loud-ass pipes. It’s a takeover. Got the blick on my lap. The cars can’t move ‘cause the streets too packed.” And then the refrain: “Vettes, Beamers, trucks, and bikes—pullin’ all that shit out on a Sunday night. Chevys, Cutlass, and Regals’ steel. Got the Glock on my lap, niggas still getting killed.” It sounds almost like a good time, but the sense of danger never lets up.
G Perico has always expressed a strong sense of paranoia. But next to his 2017 releases, his delivery on Welcome to the Land sounds a little choppier and more fragmented, and his posture is more defensive. He is always calibrating how cautious he should be, countering his wariness with his drive. Like Perico says in “Turn Around,” “The last 18 months has been crazy as a motherfucker. I’d be lying if I said everything went as planned, but you know winners don’t stop.”