Once upon a time it was Slauson's own Nipsey Hussle who was foreseen to be the next king of the west coast. However Nipsey opted to take a different route, one that would see him take full control of his destiny and his brand. And while it might've taken him a bit longer to reach this point in his career he's still here & this album is a product of that journey. 8 years since the release of his breakthrough mixtape "The Marathon" hard to believe this is Nips debut album. He wastes no time on the album's intro "Victory Lap" addressing those who may be unaware of his track record, where he comes from or what he represents. "Nipsey dumb it down you might confuse em, this ain't that weirdo rap you muthafuckaz use to". This album is a dedication to the streets & hustlers alike. Nipsey Hussle isn't your everyday run of the mill rapper, he's an MC. He's not trying to entertain you, he isn't trying to distract you. Quite the opposite he's trying to bring you in, to his world and talk to you, hopefully guide you. Motivate you. Help you map your plays out, more importantly Nipsey tries to show you the bigger picture. "Dedication" feat. Kendrick Lamar is a perfect example "Dedication, Hard Work plus Patience" this hook is an absolute breath of fresh air in an era of shallow & often self destructive lyrics. With a cold verse from K.Dot and a very bay area beat this one's an instant W for the West. In addition to the album's second single "Last Time That I Checc'd" featuring YG. The two LA natives have also been working on a project titled "Stay Dangerous" rumored to be releasing this summer.
One big strength of this project is the arrangement, from start to finish the entire album flows almost effortlessly this isn't one of those albums where you find yourself skipping around for tracks you like. Another standout track is "Blue Laces 2" which samples the original "Blue Laces" from Nipseys "Marathon" mixtape. Throughout this album the content is consistent, Nipsey painting pictures of the environment he grew up around, as well as taking control, preaching wealth & self ownership. If you think Hussle & Motivate sounds familiar it's because it samples Jay-Z's widely successful "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" which up until now was the hardest flip of the famous Annie sample. The stripped down approach and raw chorus really drive this track home in a way that Jay-Z's doesn't. Ironically enough it was Hov who cleared the sample for Nipsey.
One of my favorite records is "Double Up" Feat. Belly & Dom Kennedy, a bonus track and is essentially a love ballad about the game, the hustle, and more so the struggle, preaching "Never let a hard time humble us" with the production sounding like something out of the Timbaland/Aaliyah catalogue. But it's the celebratory outro "Real Big" featuring Marsha Ambrosius that truly epitomizes the energy of where Nipsey is currently, and what this album represents. A victorious, standing at the top of the mountain moment in a young mc's career, reminiscing on what got him to this point & how far he's had to come to get here. Structurally & sonically one of the most solid street records in recent memory. We give Nipsey Hussle's debut album "Victory Lap" a very solid 4 out of 5 X's.