On the day his debut mixtape hit the streets in 2012, LA rapper G Perico turned himself over to the authorities for a gun charge. By the time he got out of prison a year later, he was being bumped around the neighborhood, and his name was sweeping across music blogs.
It's the sort of rise tailor-made for gangster rap mythology—and the rapper, born Jeremy Nash, is as gangster rap as Ben Davis shirts and Raiders gear.
Simmering with synths, catchy basslines and hard-nosed hooks, the music of G Perico sounds like something you might've heard spilling out of an '85 Cutlass Supreme lowrider parked at a liquor store off Crenshaw Boulevard 25 years ago. It's a throwback to a time when Los Angeles was ruled by the likes of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Eazy E.
Nash gets this comparison a lot. He takes it as a compliment.
"LA gangster rap played an instrumental role in my life," Nash says. "It's where I come from. If it wasn't for the LA gangster rap scene, I probably wouldn't even exist right now."
The 29-year-old rapper grew up in South Central, hearing his hometown called out on some of the biggest rap songs of the era. He also heard rappers talking about the issues plaguing his neighborhood, and he wanted to add his voice to his city's narrative.
On both of the solo albums Nash released in 2017, All Blue and 2 Tha Left, he takes listeners on an odyssey through the LA he knows. He tells stories of selling dope, banging with the Broadway Gangster Crips, and the perils of sleeping with women from the wrong side of town. He doesn't romanticize the street life—he's simply bearing witness. This isn't empty bravado. He's just being honest.
"It's damn near killing yourself to not keep it real," Nash says. "I just come from a different type of world, where fakery is not tolerated."
Nash says he's changed since prison. His projects since getting out center on the brutality of street life, and the toll it takes on a person. As he was on the come-up, his friends were getting killed and incarcerated. Rap has given Nash a second chance, and he's taking it seriously. As he told Fact magazine last year: "I'm making up for the time I wasted as far as being a legit citizen. I'm behind on that."
LA is changing, too. Like a lot of cities, gentrification is stripping away decades' worth of character in some neighborhoods, replacing it with Peet's Coffee and mixed-use condo buildings. Surprisingly, Nash thinks it's for the best.
"I'd say gentrification has actually helped the rap scene," he says. "Now at shows, you see less gangsters and more hipsters. It makes the scene more peaceful and tranquil. Still, LA's so crazy—people from my end, 15 minutes apart [from gentrified areas], it's like a totally different world. They don't get to experience or know gentrification is even going on. But I think it's helped a whole lot. Now people are coming from all over the world and moving to places that used to be violent. I think it's dope as fuck."
SEE IT: G Perico plays Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE Cesár E. Chávez Blvd., on Saturday, Feb. 10. 8 pm. $15. All ages. Get tickets here.