Image via Estevan Oriol

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Steven Louis slides through the side of town that they scared of.

“Lights, camera, action, since 2019 been established.” The biggest flex on “Action,” lead single from G Perico’s Hot Shot mixtape, has nothing to do with the paparazzi shutters and iconoclastic shouts from DJ Drama. It’s the fact that by Perico’s account, 2019 is when things started popping off for him. The past three-plus cyphers around the sun have brought such unfathomable strangeness and cruel banality to the city and county of Los Angeles. A pandemic forced us inside and f*cked with our money. The 405 exploded in flames. Nipsey, Kobe and Drakeo died here in successive years. There are feds at City Hall and construction scaffolds at Chinese Friends. How is G Perico leveling up when so much around here is falling off or turning outright awful?

Fully locking in looks good on Perico. He’s running his own streetwear line, acting in movies and just completed a nationwide tour. He’s hearing his Innerprize Clicc hoarsely celebrated by the mixtape voice of an entire generation, as he cruises in something old school. The diamonds are dancing, the boxing spot on 108th is legally in his name, the kids on Broadway have new backpacks and school supplies. Hot Shot, both the Gangsta Grillz release and the live performance, sees Perico in red carpet mode. And it’s not just Drama’s hype work that makes the music feel a bit bigger. “Action” drops its listener into cornflower-blue club lighting, saxophonist in house, and bottles on ice. The stadium-sized bass drop on “Ask G4” is capable of totaling whips, plural. The man’s pulling up in a German SUV, getting a fit off while grinning, “this Glock 40 it go with whatever.” Next up, he says, is the aptly-titled LA Summers 3, closing out a triptych that began in 2021. “That whole sound was an experiment. It started as an idea, we made it a reality, and the rest is history,” platinum producer GotDamnitDupri says.

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G Perico’s flow and vocal cadence may contain traces of Eazy E and DJ Quik, but he’s more cosmically understood as the South Central Curren$y: joyously independent and remarkably consistent in output, working with a small cadre of lush producers and cultivating a slow-build fan base that doesn’t know him for any one singular tape. Still, Perico’s recent run begs a different, more stringent comparison: with borderline-uncomfortable bleeding-edge candor that never feels extra, he might be LA’s Boosie. The writing spares nothing and the rapping is aggressively straightforward.

Since 2019, Perico really has been deeply confessional, laying everything out in lyrics that carry a deceptive weight. When considering today’s most honest writers, the conversation often rewards brashness: think Lil Durk or Kevin Gates getting excruciatingly specific on what they do in the bedroom, or YoungBoy letting multiple personalities bounce off solitary studio walls. Can’t it be simple? Perico isn’t doing anything wild or humiliating, but he’s very much naming specific cross streets and riding for specific folks that have been stolen by the system.

Perico emerges from tinted windows wearing black and blue Jordans, ripped denim and a GxFR hoodie that imagines Lisa Simpson as a FlyGoddess. He daps up the Innerprize Clicc and moves around his store more like a general manager than a star point guard, fitting not only for his collectivist mindset but for his forthcoming celebrity coach appearance at a citywide pro-am basketball tournament. With a tour in the books and more product already rolling out, Perico admits he’s in an exceedingly good mood these days.

“People are relating to him right now because he’s so authentically who he is,” says Hot Shot collaborator, Innerprize EP and tour DJ Steelz. “He’s someone the everyday person can read. He’s in the streets, his music touches people, but he doesn’t act like he’s too cool or too Hollywood for anyone.”

​​(This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.)

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