Five Song Tribute to The Legacy of Nipsey Hussle
The night before Nipsey Hussle was killed I was up later than my family bouncing from Youtube video to Youtube video looking for the right end point to justify going to sleep. The one that sealed the evening was a ten question relationship quiz with Nipsey and Lauren London. I’ve had love for LL ever since the movie ATL and honestly didn’t know they were an item (I really don’t check personal life of famous people stuff one way or another). Throughout the video Nipsey is plugged in and genuinely excited to get these questions right. He got eight out of ten right and the only two he missed were purposely phrased oddly to reference some inside couples jokes, Nip was too focused on finding an answer to follow the thread. I smiled all the way to bed because he was so proud to have done well and I immediately thought this connected to the core of who he is. Nipsey Hussle was 100% in everything he did so if someone tells you he loved Lauren London with the intensity of the sun you have to say, “Of course.” Nipsey doesn’t half way do anything. Beyond the genuine chemistry and mutual admiration between them, on a deeper level, Nipsey Hussle wanted to wreck that quiz because if Nipsey Hussle authored the quiz it needed to achieve excellence. His will wouldn’t tolerate any less. He would marshal all his focus to be the best partner for her the same way he was the best rapper he could be. I was so happy they had each other.
Then the next day happened.
All I can do is give you five songs that show you the size of his willpower, the immensity of his heart and the force he could exert on a sonic landscape.
U See Us from Crenshaw
This might be the quintessential Nipsey song. It’s a stampede of speaker shattering bass and a grandiose hook that pulls you into the purpose of Hussle. No one wanted him to succeed. He didn’t break on a label, when he first dropped I thought he was a basic Gangsta rapper. By the time Crenshaw dropped he was making giant sized workout rap with energy heart and personality. Look at his car, look at his girl, look at his success and see it. See in that success how artificial the ceilings on life’s potential accomplishments really are.
FDT by YG featuring Nipsey Hussle from YG’s album Still Brazy
People who played it cute on Trump are regretting it now. SNL booked him as a host and has been trying to make up for it ever since. Too late. Lots of rappers had made the mistake of using Trump as their symbol of wealth and when he became an Info Wars cult member they didn’t know how to react so they didn’t. They just kept their head down and made music. YG and Nipsey Hussle had the stones to explain the whole situation and declare themselves. YG warns Donald will be a terrible president if elected and Nipsey says he thought Trump for president was a joke and says if we let him win we probably gonna feel broke. Real spit.*
Last Time That I Checc’d featuring YG from Victory Lap
Any song YG did with Nip is solid gold. Those guys are charged up all the time and ready to send shockwaves through tracks. Last Time That I Checc’d is stupid relistenable. This makes it harder because his last album, Victory Lap, was his very best. He mastered his mission statement became a king beat picker with a fantastic ear and sent his hooks into your mind to repeat until everyone’s lips mouthed along. Every time he says he did it all without a co-sign and that he’s self-made know, that information is more reliable than scientific studies of the moon. This dude pulled himself from mixtape dude to best album of the year list with features from Puff Daddy, Ceelo Green, Kendrick, The Dream and we all got robbed of what he would have built on top of that success.
50 Niggaz from Mailbox Money
Nipsey had a special delivery. He could shout the N word in a way that made it devastating but this song is what I loved most about his pen game. As a writer, he always showed supernatural empathy. The repeated refrain of “Would you just accept that we murdered your children? Could you just accept that we murdered your children?” asks the same white male who is angry about rioting or angry that the victims father had the nerve to say something that might stoke resentment further… to flip perspectives. What would your process be like if you were on the other side? Once he has you there we can talk Zimmerman, Ali, rappers getting unfairly targeted and a picture comes together. This is such a great political song because it’s conversational and unpretentious. Nipsey is not trying to prove to you how smart he is. He’s beseeching you to utilize your emotional intelligence for someone other than yourself and people who look like you. If he had lived we would have seen a lot more music like this as he elevated in leading by example.
I Don’t Stress from Slauson Boy 2
Nipsey was just a different dude. This whole song his voice is strained, pained and emotional but his lyrics are methodical. He starts the song hurt that his mother is stressing but quickly snaps into his mode. To put it bluntly “I never fold under mental pressure, I get better.” His determination was colder than most in that it was completely unwavering, no matter what the circumstances were. It was hotter in the sense that the fire he had just never burned low. The most Nipsey Hussle lyric of all time might be in this song when he says “Plenty of times I felt like this the end now N_. But I catch my second wind around the tenth round, N_.” The scariest fighters in boxing history were the ones who could save their real power for the tenth round when the other guy was breathing heavy through his mouth. Those fighters were fueled by something really scary, the type of determination you can see in Bernard Hopkins fights. That’s what Nipsey had on every song.
Every song from now on won’t have that.
*a little P.S. on the FDT write up, if you somehow read my site and love Trump and are offended I have no choice but to stand as tall as Nipsey and YG did, hold your gaze, and say FUCK Donald Trump. Let you feel any way you want about it.