Nipsey Hussle Crafts a Hustler’s Blueprint on ‘Victory Lap’
Nipsey Hussle embraces his independent spirit and puts industry rookies up on game on his major label debut that stays true to his West Coast roots.
From L.A. rap royalty like Kendrick Lamar and YG to more creative rappers from the city like Tyler, The Creator and Vince Staples, the crop of young talent carrying the torch for the West Coast proves that hip-hop is in very good hands in the Golden State.
The famously independent Nipsey Hussle has been around a little longer than most of his current West Coast peers, but the 32-year-old’s rap career made its way into the mainstream spotlight recently after his All Money In record label inked a partnership with Atlantic Records. It was a perplexing move that few predicted, especially when given the fact Nipsey had enjoyed plenty of financial success on the independent circuit where he made a cool $100,000 just by selling 1,000 copies of his $100 mixtape Crenshaw in 2013.
Nipsey has always embraced the hustle and that spirit is really at the core of his music and his new album ‘Victory Lap.’ Boasting an unapologetically West Coast vibe, the L.A. native pays homage to the roots of G-funk while bringing in new elements to keep his sound fresh and forward-thinking to match the times.
Bringing the aggression early on “Rap Niggas,” Nipsey drops bars about how he’s different from other commercial rappers in the game. He reiterates how he’s really about the street life and that he owns all the publishing rights to his music, even likening himself to a pair of hip-hop’s greatest entrepreneurs in Master P and Jay-Z.
That self-made swagger also informs the bars on “Last Time That I Checc’d” featuring YG. Nipsey spits about his independent vision and how he’s always been one step ahead of the average rapper because of it. More than braggadocious, he passes knowledge down to industry newbies who don’t know any better and just want to get their deal to see a little bit of money up front.
Another high point of the album comes on “Dedication,” which finds Nipsey and Kendrick exchanging verses that speak to their individual journeys to hip-hop stardom. While their stories are different, there is a commonality in their ambition and ability to create their own lanes in the music industry instead of piggy-backing the success of another rapper or producer to get where they are today.
The lyrical content on ‘Victory Lap’ is certainly catered toward the hustlers who understand Nipsey’s come-up and can relate to his experiences in the industry. Even on smoother cuts like the Diddy-assisted “Young Nigga” and “Million While You Young” featuring The-Dream, the songs are generally centred around the idea of not getting screwed out of your money and understanding what you’re worth to a corporation.
Nipsey never abandons the hustler’s spirit that got him to the show. He knows his audience well and ‘Victory Lap’ is evidence of that. While it may have been nice to have seen a little more versatility in some areas of the album, it’s very admirable that Nipsey has nothing to hide about his journey and who he is. He gives young hustlers the blueprint and simply leaves it up to them to do something with that knowledge.