The late afternoon and evening of March 31, 2019 felt as if the country held a collective breath as they sent up prayers due to the terrible news of rapper, entrepreneur and community hero, Nipsey Hussle had been fatally shot six times. Unfortunately, not long after the news broke of the shooting, it was confirmed that the rapper had succumbed to his wounds at age 33.
Nipsey was considered a hero and role model not just to his fellow residents of Crenshaw, but across the country for his active efforts to practice what he preached in terms of giving back and building his community. In remembrance of the late Nipsey Hussle, whether you are a long time or new fan, here is a compilation of some of his best verses.
Young N***a ft. Puff Daddy- Victory Lap (2018)
Salvaged a little bit, young, rich n***a shit/ Pressure on your shoulder, how you gon’ deal with it?/ Say it’s uncomfortable when you transition (Let’s go)/ But it’s all beautiful when you get rich in it (Don’t stop)/ When you start killin’ sh*t (elevating)/ And they all witness it (Keep rocking)/ Money grow faster than n****s can spend the sh*t/ Open more businesses with you and your n****s/ That’s watching your vision and being more generous/ F**k a Ford dealership, we up in Forbes/ (Number one, m*therf*ckers, every year)/ Watching and they wishing that it wasn’t yours/ (Let’s go)// You gotta play the game, you gotta read the score (Read the score)// They told me if I want it, gotta hustle for it (Get it, get it, get it)/ Only difference now, the money more mature -Nipsey Hussle
As the song inches closer to the end with this verse, Nipsey clues the listener into why the album is called ‘Victory Lap’. One thing that Nipsey often talked about was the importance of investing in assets that will generate lasting wealth- primarily through entrepreneurial endeavors. He lived that sentiment as he owned the masters to his music and invested into his community by opening his storefront The Marathon Clothing as well as launching Too Big To Fail, a STEM program for children of the Crenshaw neighborhood.
Mark My Words Ft. Rick Ross- Single (2016)
Grind strenuous, cash out continuous/ Mogul in the making, autonomous black businesses/ Broken culture that we all lost n****s in/ Elevated innovation over ignorance/ I represent it/ Suburban tinted, fiver that’s percentage/ Closed cur but the Mac-11 muzzle vintage/ Go flourish, double back and come and get your n****s/ Pass the power to your people, it ain’t nothing realer/ Facing this decision it’s a funny feeling/ Knowing when you tell the truth they gon’ come and kill you/ Knowing people need some proof, went and got the millions/ Stressed a young n***a out but I’m so resilient/ It’s champagne, Honda Civics they was taking pictures/ Young n****s in front the buildings tryna make a living/ Or I just figured they was jealous cause we made it quicker/ And never asked for no favors n***a/ Look real shit you can mark my words
Despite the detractors of his success, Nipsey gives back to his community as he lived by the empowerment that he preached and wished to help others in his community- Crenshaw and other predominantly Black communities- to rise. This was a promise to do exactly that.
Don’t Take Days off Ft. Dubb- Crenshaw (2013)
Yea, and it’s quite clear/ All you needed was a little bit of guidance/ And your household it was just silence/ You was your own mother and your father/ How the hell you supposed to know what to do when nobody showed you the ropes/ All they showed you was pistols and dope/ Gang flags in the land with no hope/ Where every fitted hat mean a different hood/ Make it out & they still want you in the hood/ Your own homies don’t want you livin’ good/ N****s for they self, get it understood
In his raps, Nipsey often tells a story that is common amongst children growing up in the inner city. He was able to relate and touch many people through his depictions as he did not dehumanize them nor invalidate their experiences, rather he was able to show empathy and give hope that their situation does not have to be permanent.
A Miracle- Mailbox Money (2014)
[Hook] I was been supposed to change up/ I was been supposed to fold all this pressure/ I was been supposed to change up/ N***a what would I look like I come from the hood/ I represent the only way up/ Had to hustle boy I’m tryna touch the toy/ I’m trying [to] fuck these LA streets up/ Think it’s safe to say I did it
Much like the sentiments in the previous verse, Nipsey reiterates that although he has risen above the odds stacked against him, he has never forgotten where he came from and sees himself as a role model for other youths with the same background.
Racks in the Middle Ft. Roddy Ricch & Hit-Boy- Single (2019)
Gotta cross my T’s and dot my I’s or I can’t sleep well/ Millions off of retail/ Once again, I prevail/ Knew that shit was over from the day I dropped my presale/ Hold up, let the beat build/ See me in the streets still/ I been fightin’ battles up a steep hill/ They gave my road dog twelve, it was a sweet deal/ And I been ridin’ solo tryna rebuild
This track was released a month before his passing, in these lines it seems that Nipsey understood the impact he has made over his career. In an explanation with Genius, Nipsey explains how the song came about;
“The original concept behind “Racks In The Middle” was just me walking in the studio session with Hit-Boy. I was really just getting back in the studio, for real, I forgot what I came off of, but it was like just business shit we’d been doing, but we hadn’t really been recording like that. And the first record he played me was “Racks In The Middle,” and this was for his album he’s building now. And so I just stopped everything and was like, “Man, hold the mic up.” Sometime records will hit you like that, soon as you hear it you don’t even want think too long, you don’t want to talk, you just like, “Let’s start working.” And that was one of them instances with this one.”
The improv factor of this track further highlights Nipsey’s talent as a rapper as well as a storyteller. It showed his natural talent and love for his craft.
If you are a Nipsey fan, comment your favorite line below.