Nipsey Hussle Takes a ‘Victory Lap’ with Debut Album
Grab the nearest “Hip-Hop is dead” advocate, find a person who believes mumble rap and drug culture have ruined rap. Sit them down, press play on Nipsey Hussle’s debut album Victory Lap and watch them smile. The Slauson Boy and his team have been consistent with his projects over the years. With genius-level marketing, they have proven to be a force on the Independent scene. Now they have partnered with Atlantic Records and Nipsey’s All Money In No Money Out Label to bring us magic. It truly has been a marathon and not a sprint for Nipsey to garner the attention he has today. He may just now be making his Victory Lap around the industry but, this isn’t his first time in the winner’s circle.
The 16 track album was released last week on February 16th and features some of Hip-Hops favorites such as; Puff Daddy, The-Dream, Cee-Lo Green, Kendrick Lamar, Belly, Dom Kennedy, YG, and Marsha Ambrosius. As well as highlighting other talents like TeeFlii, Buddy, Konshens, J.Black, and Stacy Barthe. Nipsey Hussle’s laid back, dynamic and charismatic persona dominates the album. The themes featured on Victory Lap include; Los Angeles, gang culture, entrepreneurship, Black Enterprise, pain, wealth and more. Here are highlights of my favorite records- “Victory Lap”, “Last Time That I Checc’d”, “Dedication”, “Blue Laces 2”, and “Hussle & Motivate”.
The first track, also titled “Victory Lap” sets the tone and although it doesn’t have a hook, Stacy Barthe on the vocals brings painful but comforting energy. The progression of instruments and sound is evident on “Victory Lap”. The bars aren’t lacking either. If you listen to the intro after you listen to the entire album you can see how it would’ve made a great outro as well.
Switching gears with a track like “Last Time That I Checc’d” ft. YG. A braggadocios record with a heavy base and covered in Cali flavor. I like to think of it as one hell of a verbal resume, “I laid down the game for you n****s, taught you how to charge more than what they paid for you n****s”.
“Dedication” what can I say, Nipsey grabbed Kung Fu Kenny from Compton to hop on the track, and Kendrick snaps! Seeing the praise that Kendrick gives Nipsey is solid, “my n***a L said you do a song with Nip, K. Dot he a better Crip, I said he a man first you hear the words out his lips about flourishing from the streets to Black Businesses. Listen close my n***a it’s bigger than deuces and fours my n***a”. K.Dot zones in on how they’re dedicated to more than just music and gang affiliations. For example, dedicated to being upstanding men, dedicated to Black Enterprise, dedicated to building a better community and dedicated to being better leaders.
The cinematic styling in “Blue Laces 2” is a moment. At one point I closed my eyes to take it all in. The 6th track on Victory Lap, “Blue Laces 2” is the follow up to “Blue Laces” from the 2013 mixtape The Marathon. Both records have a soulful yet eerie feeling, but they differ in growth and content. The icing on the cake is how vivid a picture he paints in the third verse. At that moment you see where “Blue Laces” and “Blue Laces 2” meet.
Nostalgia came over me listening to “Hussle & Motivate”. I instantly recognized the slow-tempo version of the Annie sample. A sample made famous in Hip-Hop after Jay-Z used it on his 1998 hit “Hard Knock Life”. As far as favorites go “Hussle & Motivate” wins. The simplicity of the hook “I don’t do this for nothing, hussle and motivate” is self-explanatory.
Moreover, Victory Lap is refreshing. It is therapy on wax. The level of confidence is contagious. Every aspect ranging from production, features, content, and storytelling is perfect. Nipsey Hussle has created a movement with this project and it is game-changing. Welcome to the Victory Lap.