The new era of the West Coast Hip-Hop scene has seen a handful of significant contributors to the resurgence of the West Coast musical landscape but there are only a few that have impacted the culture and people's lives in such a genuine fashion as the South Central bred MC, "Nipsey Hussle". "Ermias Asghedom" who is better known now as, "Nipsey Hussle" or "Nip Hussle" was born on August 15th, 1985 in the Crenshaw District of South Central Los Angeles, California. In this HotNewHipHop interview, Nipsey details that one his homies gifted him his rap name because as youngster he would always be seen as someone by his elders that would leave with nothing and come back with something. In turn he liked the ring the name captured and Nipsey always felt he embodied the hustler ideology and so he would fully adopt the name. Nipsey grew up on 60th Street and Crenshaw in South Central, Los Angeles and the traditional culture on the Los Angeles streets has always been and always will be gang culture. In this DJ Vlad interview, Nipsey details that his first preference was not always to be a part of the Rollin Sixties Crip Gang and that his first passion was always to do music. As he became a teenager, he realized that he did not have the proper outlets to be creatively productive such as studio time and thus it forced him to find a way to provide for himself. Due to internal conflicts within his mother's home, he was kicked out at the age of 14 to live with his grandmother but still managed to provide for himself. Thus, being around the people he grew up with who were gang affiliated would influence Nipsey to officially join the gang as it would allow him certain avenues to be able to take care of himself at a young age and simultaneously allow him to one day formulate a situation where he could pursue his music dreams full-time.
While still gang banging heavily, Nipsey would drop his debut mixtape called, "Slauson Boy Volume 1" in 2005 which was a raw and still impressive tape that showcased an aggressively talented West Coast MC who aimed to shed the light on his environment and his hustler ambitions. Just a year after his first mixtape dropped, HardKnock TV conducted what is believed to be Nipsey's first in-person interview in which he shows that he is in fact self-aware about his East African heritage and also illuminates Nipsey's goals to build a solid financial and musical foundation for himself. In 2008, Nipsey Hussle would release his second mixtape called, "Bullets Ain't Got No Name Volume 1" that was hosted by, "DJ Skee" & "DJ Felli Fel". Ironically enough, DJ Felli Fel would introduce Nipsey to, "Jonny Shipes" who would sign Nipsey to Cinematic Music Group around this time, giving Nipsey the appropriate creative outlet to produce and distribute his music. The first installment of, "Bullets Ain't Got No Name" mixtape series is a more cohesive tape that is anchored by Nipsey's flows that illuminate the painful truth about his grizzly environment, which is very apparent by the title track, "Bullets Ain't Got No Name" which would generate a healthy buzz for Nipsey in his immediate region. Nipsey would release the second installment of his mixtape series, "Bullets Ain't Got No Name Volume 2" and this would be Nipsey's breakout musical project as it would be received as a classic mixtape with the smash singles anchoring the project in, "Hussle In The House" & "They Roll" which featured the Veteran Compton bred MC, "The Game". The tape would be downloaded over hundred thousand times and this would crown Nipsey as the next rising star coming out of the West Coast scene, landing him co-signs by legendary West Coast MC's such as, "Snoop Dogg". Snoop & Nipsey would even collaborate on a dope track called, "Gangsta's Life" which has both MC's trading vicious verses over a traditionally raw West Coast musical landscape. The third and final installment in this mixtape series, "Bullets Ain't Got No Name Volume 3" proved to be another huge success for Nipsey as he continued to address the lifestyle of those living in his environment while always illuminating an underlying motivational message. This is directly illustrated in one of the tapes standout tracks, "The Hustle Way" in which he details his trials and tribulations of staying true to his environment whilst on the road of chasing his musical dream. These mixtapes would allow Nipsey to begin touring and to build a substantial fanbase before he was set to release his debut album under Cinematic Records.
Due to internal conflicts and Nipsey's own wishes to be independent, he would part ways with Cinematic & Epic Records peacefully with all of his musical masters and no penalties involved. Although, Nipsey still had plenty of deals from other labels knocking on his door he would not sign with any major label as he wanted to be an owner of his musical situation and did not want to compromise any of his intellectual property for a check from a record company. He goes into depth about this concept in this Complex interview, discussing his thought process of parting ways with his former record label and delaying his debut commercial project. Nipsey explains in this mini-documentary that the labels forced his hand to find a middle ground to where he could still be an owner whilst still controlling his intellectual property that could translate into him being heard on a mainstream platform. Thus, the concept and the release of another classic mixtape from Nipsey, "The Marathon" was born. It illuminated a concept that details his decision to take on a long and arduous journey of building his brand independently to achieve his goal of running his own company. The company consists of himself, Jorge Peniche (Nipsey's biological brother), "Blacc Sam", & "Adam". The tape would once again be received as a classic by his fans and the Hip-Hop community respectively. Nipsey would develop a diehard fanbase with his supporters known as "Marathon Members", as Nipsey illuminates on the project's standout track, "Bigger Than Life". This would act as Nipsey's catapult into the stratosphere of becoming one of Hip-Hop's next rising mogul as he would continue to tour all across the globe.
The follow up to, "The Marathon" would be the project, "The Marathon Continues" and Nipsey would not disappoint once again. It boasted an even more developed and focused MC in Nipsey that is still forever pushing the motivational message to stay focused on your goals as they all come true with consistency and perseverance (2011). This combined with his personal anecdotes of his journey would continue to connect with his fanbase as they knew they would continue to get the real, "Nipsey Hussle" on tracks such as the tapes last song, "Outro". At first, Nipsey would promote that his debut album, "Victory Lap" would come soon after "TMC" dropped but he still had to complete the album while finding a means of distributing his product on a mainstream level without losing his audience. In this Complex interview, Nipsey details that major record labels would continue to knock on his door but none would agree to his demands of being an owner with distributing and marketing platforms on an international level without compromising his intellectual and creative property. In this Hot97 interview, Nipsey details that he got the idea of his, "Proud 2 Pay" campaign of selling his project, "Crenshaw" for $100 each from a chapter he read in the book called, "Contagious". The project would house songs that Nipsey felt were dope songs but did not fit what the vision he wanted to achieve on, "Victory Lap". There would only be a 1000 signed physical copies of the project and those who purchased any of the first 1000 copies would gain entry to a special concert. "Crenshaw" would be released on October 8th, 2013 and would be a huge success as Nipsey would sell all of the 1000 signed physical copies on the first day it released. The online order numbers were so large that Nipsey and his team had to press more physical copies and even Jay-Z would purchase 100 copies of the project to show his support for Nipsey's grind. This would further solidify Nipsey's belief that he could build brand loyalty within his fanbase and would continue to use this, "Proud 2 Pay" business model with his next project that he would drop called, "Mailbox Money". This tape is all about ownership and detailing Nipsey's growth as an artists since dropping his first tape and before he has even dropped his debut commercial album.
Although Nipsey has yet to bless us all with his debut project, "Victory Lap" he still maintains a stronghold on his audience as fans are still awaiting to hear a project that is long overdue! We encourage you to check out some of his music below and be sure to be on the look out for his debut album that could drop at any time!
All Money In, No Money Out.