A: “I have a right to talk about whatever I want, I have a right to give my opinion, because I back everything up. Y’all thought I was talking s*** when I first came out, now you see that I back everything up. Back to back to back to back, so basically. Shut the f*** up. Stop talking to me…I’m not coming on some do you want me to do music? Do you not want me to do music? I want to do music, cause I know people need my music.”
B: “Number one, who is an editor to have an opinion on a street nigga? Bottom line. Those editors don’t live this life. They don’t go through the struggle. I’m from the Rolling 60’s my nigga. They don’t understand what putting an album out is to me. It ain’t the same as one of them backpack niggas, or one of them college-rapping types. That ain’t the shit I do. I got enemies. I went to war for real in between albums. My life is real. So when I hear about an editor asking: What’s up with my output? I’m like: What’s up with you even commenting on my life? Niggas don’t know my life.”
Two quotes, two very different rappers, both arrogant as hell. However, both seem justified in their own worlds. Nipsey Hussle (Quote B) has a while to go before he can truly earn comparisons to Kanye West (Quote A), but his most recent offering, Crenshaw, did strike a chord with Ye’s mentor Jay-Z. Jay-Z is definitely a proponent and benefactor of consumerism culture and he only bolstered his repertoire by purchasing 100 copies of Neighborhood Nip’s latest work. Crenshaw, which is hosted by the one and only DJ Drama, is available for free on the internet but is retailing physical copies for $100. What have you spent $100 on lately? In 2013, I highly doubt it was music. Nipsey is trying to solidify his fan base (140,000 on Instagram and 400,000 on Facebook and Twitter) and mobilize them to show fiscal support for the L.A. rapper and his independent brand. If Jay-Z’s $10,000 hint doesn’t inspire you to give Neighborhood Nip a chance then consider the fact he just walked away from a sure-fire deal with MMG and Rick Ross.
Or that despite his “underground” status he has been featured on tracks with Snoop Dogg, French Montana, Wale, Drake, and the aforementioned Ricky Rozay. A 2010 XXL Top Ten Freshman, Nipsey Hussle has taken the last several months to build his brand and perfect his craft. Yet by busting back onto the scene with Crenshaw, not to mention Victory Lap (his debut studio album) in his back pocket, Nipsey Hussle is strategically positioned to take the rap game by storm.
For the Nipsey faithful, Crenshaw is more of the same. The hustler turned gangbanger turned rapper has been putting out tracks like ‘Face The World’ since the Bullets Aint Got No Names series. Nipsey’s flow is only improving as he gets deeper in the game, and his steadily climbing cred has allowed him to recruit top tier talent in the industry such as the 9th Wonder production that accompanies his ride on ‘Face The World’. Those new to Nipsey Hussle shouldn’t come in with the expectation of hearing the cliché club bangers that Tyga and YG have been perfecting. Instead Neighborhood Nip takes you around his way, detouring from Rack City, the SoCal veteran goes swerving down Slauson Ave with the top down. Because of Nipsey’s inability to get the kind of label deal he desires, he has been able to authentically perfect the art of being underrated. You can’t help but nod along to the lines,
My cuban link, thats 14K
My presidential? I wear it everyday
It symbolizes, how I’m enterprising
I came from lint and dickey pockets so I emphasize it
You check the filings and niggas say I kept it solid
But f*** the rumors, money talks and you made less deposits
I dropped some videos, you should go check the comments
They love me all around the world my nigga, whats your problem?
– Nipsey Hussle All Get Right
Drake’s album was heralded it for its honesty but here you have Nipsey admitting he consciously scans the comments on his Youtube videos. In the same verse where the watch connoisseur brags about his Presidential Rolex, the up and comer laments his Dickie trouser upbringing. The dichotomy is striking, and Nipsey is right to highlight his rise to fame. Bigg Bizz and Sarah J flip the old-school O-Jays sample ‘Who Am I’ (a la Juelz Santana a couple years back) before Nipsey’s affiliate J Stone spits on the track. Crenshaw is littered with slow bangers that draw you in with luxurious beats that perfectly complement Nipsey & co. Two tracks that employ this method are ‘H-Town’ and ‘Checc Me Out’, both produced by the Futuristiks and featuring Cobby Supreme and Metrojolt favorite, Dom Kennedy. Two of the standout tracks from the album, both could have easily been found on 2010‘s The Marathon.It is Nipsey’s sonic dedication to his formula that has endeared him to fans all over the country. Sometimes less is more and Nipsey’s chorus on ‘H-Town’ is incredibly simple but catchy,
I keep that H-Town in my cup,
OG in my blunt,
Crenshaw on my shirt,
German on my stunt.
Its only right that Los Angeles’ other rapper with immediate (MTV-like) star potential gets some shine on Nipsey’s hustle and with the third verse on ‘H-Town’ Dom Kennedy does not disappoint,
My money come in lumps, love only come once,
You the nigga she got, but I’m the nigga she want.
I told her leave on the pumps,
cause this the perfect occasion
and my pockets looking caucasian!
Dom and Nipsey just need to do a project together. With similar styles, a stronghold on the West Coast, and ties to Rick Ross, these are two burgeoning artists to watch right now. Crenshaw is a great project and its consistency, one of the major knocks on The Marathon Continues, means Nipsey is steadily improving and defining his lane. Considering how long it took for Crenshaw to release, Nipsey’s next move may be securing financial security in the form of backing from the major label. Nip has been very vocal about keeping his fans in the loop about exactly why he hasn’t signed a deal, and I-Hussle/ Proud to Pay business ventures have been successful. However, Nipsey is sitting at the pinnacle of his young career and finally has gained enough recognition and respect to be able to pick his lane: go independent like Dizzy Wright, sign to a artist-friendly label like Fools Gold, or get inked to a major deal like almost every rapper in heavy rotation right now. The choice is his and we eagerly await that and his debut album Victory Lap, which we presume will be his finest work yet.
Sleeper tracks: Drop Coupes/ Crenshaw and Slauson Outro/ Change Nothing
Marcus Byrd, Leisure/Music Editor