I can’t really say that the West Coast is suffering from a dearth of young talent because I’m not familiar with the scene in detail. But as an onlooker I don’t see too many hopefuls reaching that full-length release status that helps artists get established. That’s why I think we should mention this album that came out in the spring of 2001. It would be fatal to put the ‘gangsta rap’ tag on Perfec, because that’s not what he’s about. Gangsta rap to me is either closely gang-related or talking about all kinds of illicit activities – needless to say that often amounts to the same thing. No, gangsta rap as we have known it throughout the ’90s is pretty much dead. There’s a new breed of rhyme sayers that may be familiar with the social failure that birthed gangsta rap but that’s in a way going back to the basics: claiming lyrical superiority, putting others in check, macking to the ladies, telling stories, that type of thing. Perfec puts it like this:

“So-called pimps live in fantasy worlds
talkin’ about they fuckin’ Vanity girls
Nigga, you must be sick
everything you did, I did it twice, twice as nice
so I’m double the man you are, touchin’ the mic
I’m out to bomb like Ike
Gimme 2 dice, 2 dykes, some ice and I’m paradise
Speak a broken language interpreted by the streets
Rip the snare kicks and hi-hats out of your beats”

It has to be said that Perfec is not the illest kid on the mic. His choice of words and rhyme schemes are rather basic. He has that characteristic voice tone, somewhat of a squeak, best described as a mixture between Eastsida Tray Deee and Young Prod from South Central Cartel. At its core it’s the same conversational style that his Long Beach neighbor Snoop made popular, only in a less mellow tone. His storytelling skills, while he has some, are not yet perfected. “Stories” consists of three episodes, the most cunningly told being the one where he ends up banging his step sister. “First Date” with its funny intro first sounds like it’s going to be some updated Ice Cube “Once Upon A Time In The Projects” ish, but Perfec witnesses his spot being taken by veteran pimp daddies 4-Tay and Sugafree. “Can I” starts off like a story (“Last night was a trip, I’ma say it like this / she had a mouth full of balls and a fist full of dick / but that was the end, let’s start from the front / when I scooped her up to fuck…”) but quickly turns into a back-and-forth with guest rapper ChynaGirl. Definitely the most vivid tale is spun in “Dumpn Dumpn”, a interpolation of Destiny’s Child “Jumpin Jumpin”. Here Perfec takes us on a tour through Long Beach realizing he should’ve heeded Eazy-E’s words to “never leave the pad without packing a gun.”

What else is there? The obligatory smoking episode, “Puff a Ounce”, several pledges of allegiance to this rap thing, the most touching being “Hold On” (based on Simply Red’s “Holding Back the Tears”) where he examines life’s ills to conclude:

“My life is a mess
thought my woman was the best
and she just like the rest
playin’ the games they do
sayin’ things that’s untrue
even though they love you
I’m a confused nigga
it’s like I’m goin’ in circles tryin’ to amuse niggas
with two choices: stay calm or choose triggers
There’s one way out this trap
and it’s called rap, to put myself on the map”

A surprising number of tracks seek admittance to the clubs. One of them is “Do it to Um”, but even here Perfec takes the opportunity to claim his turf. First for himself (“After I study these niggas and peep they profile / (What you see, Perfec?) No fuckin’ style / I don’t fit what you see on TV / the tats and the ice – just murderous raps that’s nice / I’ma pound it in your head until you get it / give me all 5 mics, none of ’em splitted”), then for the whole West Coast: “Now ain’t this a bitch, these niggas done twisted up the game / tryin’ to make the ‘W’ stand for Lil Wayne / Get your chips, homie, but listen to this, homie / the ‘W’ stand for West Coast and Watts only.”

Laced with one of the most entertaining intros I’ve heard in a long time, “Best Kept Secret” offers a ride free of bumps but eventually suffers from too many computerized grooves and not enough lyrical ammo for Perfec to blast his way out of the situation, despite his claim:

“In the Y2K I’m who the next nigga is
with a gameplan deep as Tex Winter’s is
but I ain’t got Shaq and Kobe
just a gat to hold me – down
for when them bitch niggas come around
My mind is my gun and my mouth is my barrel
so I’ma put a hole through where your head grow
leave you brainless like a scarecrow
cause you’re heartless like the Tin Man
On this mic I’m a 10, man”

Musically, some of the tightest cuts are those where he teams up with his man Riz (“Marvalus”, “Jump Back”, “Live & Direct”). Maybe the future for both of them lays in a team effort? There must be something about a rapper who calls himself Perfec and his album “Best Kept Secret”. Indeed the 20-year old has some arguments to back up his claim to fame yet to be achieved. He isn’t the MC messiah to put the West Coast out of its lyrical mysery, but he aligns himself among the new generation of L.A. and Long Beach rappers to make something happen. Let’s just hope that those that have been laying in the cut for the longest now (Crooked I, Techniec, Grimm) get their chance to shine now before the torch is passed on to the next generation.

Perfec :: Best Kept Secret
6Overall Score