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.
Continue Reading

Reflecting on 15 years of 50 Cent’s Timeless debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Sometimes I wonder if 50 Cent knew that we would still be raving about his debut album fifteen years later? Never mind, I’m sure 50 is somewhere in the world thinking, “Hell yea I knew I was creating a classic…I’m 50 man.”
Fifteen years ago today, 50 Cent and Shady/Aftermath records had the Country and the entire Hip-Hop community gasping for air as they released his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’. The 19 track album debuted atop the Billboard 200 and sold upwards of 872,000 copies in its first week. 50 Cent had officially transformed from underground mixtape legend to Raps new favorite bad guy. Get Rich or Die Tryin was 50 Cent’s statement piece. A project packed with grit, charisma and a sinister spirit. The album featured songs such as the hits “In Da Club”, “21 Questions” ft. Nate Dogg, “P.I.M.P”,  “Wanksta” and my personal favorite “Many Men”. I rapped “Many Men” like I lived it, wrote it and had to buy a bullet proof vest because of it.
At the age of 13 is when I started to listen to 50 Cent, courtesy of my 9-year-old brother. He became a fan of 50 during his mixtape reign. I still wonder how a 9-year-old got hold of a 50 Cent mixtape, but we’ll leave that for another day. Get Rich or Die Tryin was released when I was 14 and that album solidified me as a fan forever. Generally speaking, if streaming was a thing fifteen years ago, my house alone would’ve given him an award. As a matter of fact, you could not go anywhere without hearing the album, birthday parties, roller skating rinks, sporting events, the radio and especially school hallways. Yes, just in case you were wondering how the album was received by Middle School students in 2003, the census agreed it was the sh*t! You could hear “Wanksta” blaring out of portable CD players, students rapping “In Da Club” in the back of the classroom and of course, I was one of those students, I knew every song word for word.
Looking back on those days brings a sense of nostalgia and being in the present to see 50 Cent continue to flourish not only in Hip-Hop but Acting, Business and much more is even better. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is in fact  timeless and will reside in the Hip-Hop rafters alongside of other greats forever.
Continue Reading

TakeOff Shines As The Migos’ Transcend Music with Culture II

The Migos have been dishing out music like they still have something to prove. The superstar trio released their third studio album Culture II at midnight. The album comes on the heels of a phenomenal 2017. The success of chart topping hit “Motorsport” ft. Cardi B and Nicki Minaj landed the trio on the cover of Rolling Stone. Culture II boast features from the industries elite, heavy hitters such as Drake, Big Sean, Gucci Mane, 21 Savage, Travis Scott, Post Malone, Ty Dolla $ign and more can be found on Culture II. With production credits from taste makers like, Metro Boomin, Zaytoven, KanyeWest, Pharell and even Quavo made the cut.
The Migos’ deliver as usual, with TakeOff shining as the most lyrical (Keep sleeping on him if you want), Quavo shows off his range with his melodic voice and production and Offset ties it all together with his polished flow and cadence. Culture II includes tracks like, “Narcos”, “Beast”, “Auto Pilot (Huncho on the Beat)” and “Walk It Talk It” ft. Drake, that give us that proper Migos’ energy. However, the production by DJ Durel and Quavo on “Too Playa” ft. 2 Chainz is the smoothest and quite honestly, the most fire moment throughout the album, adding the live saxophone is real playa sh*t. Another favorite is “Made Men” due to the boss’d up energy that it gives off and TakeOff on the hook is seamless.
Overall, I could have done without the 24 tracks, 12 would have been better and Culture II doesn’t translate the way Culture did but, it definitely has its moments. Without fail you can see the growth musically in the trio, at this stage in their career they have the room to do whatever they want. Maybe Culture II will grow on me like “Stir Fry” did, but until then I’ll keep “Too Playa” and “Made Men” in rotation.
Continue Reading