Rap Album Reviews: Nipsey Hussle “Victory Lap”
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Let me preface this post by saying that I’ve known of Nipsey Hussle for a decade now but he was never really on my radar for about half of that time. I remember meeting him at Philly International Airport. This was around the time that he was signed to Epic Records and I recall us having a light conversation about his career and where he was headed. He had a record featured with Lloyd that was in radio rotation and was supposed to be the lead single for his album South Central State of Mind. After a slew of collaborations with artists like Drake & Snoop Dogg & getting the 2010 XXL Freshman cover as well as getting mentioned by LA Weekly as the next big artist out of Los Angeles, it seemed as if all the chips were falling into place for a young Nipsey. Fast forward a few months, he was released from his label and it was then that his own foundation All Money In Inc. was founded. Thus began a new mixtape circuit for Nipsey with the release of The Marathon and its sequel following shortly after titled The Marathon Continues. It was when he was featured on Maybach Music Group’s compilation Album Self Made Vol. 2 and stole the show on Fountain of Youth that I said to myself that this guy from LA has some potential. In September 2013 I recall talking to a group of friends and someone had mentioned that Nipsey was putting out another mixtape titled Crenshaw but this time he was charging $100 for a hard copy. $100?!? That’s a pretty bold move. For someone to do something like that must mean that they believe wholeheartedly that their project was a certified smash. I had my doubts going into the project but they were laid to rest when “You See Us” came on. December 2014 came and he doubled down on his efforts from his previous project and this time put out Mailbox Money for $1000. That tape went on to become my favorite project of his and solidified him as a top rapper of this generation. Which brings us to Victory Lap, the project that everyone has been waiting for. How does it stack up to his previous work? I’ll be providing the rap album review so keep reading.
Victory Lap (feat. Stacy Barthe)
The album starts off with the title track produced by Amaire Johnson & Sap. The ominous piano keys are introduced with the bass kicking in and giving the song the signature “West Coast Vibe”. Stacy Barthe blesses the track with her vocals and gives the song depth before Nip even raps. It’s a celebratory song for those who have followed the Marathon story since its inception. Nipsey sets the tone of the album with the first two bars “I’m prolific, so gifted/I’m the type that’s gon’ go get it, no kiddin’. One of the standouts and a personal favorite of mine.
Moving into track 2 and we get into one of the album’s singles. This one is produced by DJ Khalil, Rance & Mike N Keys. Very catchy hook and a glimpse at why he was being recognized as a major staple in his hometown. Nip goes on record to let you know that there’s major differences between him & his peers “I own all the rights to all my raps, n***a/German plates with sheepskin on my mats, n***a” & the only people in his league are the moguls “We the No Limit of the West, n***a/Percy Miller at his best, n***a/Jigga with the Rollie and the vest, n***a’.
Last Time That I Checc’d (feat. YG)
This is another single that was released prior to the album and instantly gave me West Coast Vibes as soon as it came on. Produced by Kacey Khaliel, Brody Brown, Larrance Dopson & Mike N Keys, Nipsey gets braggadocios to inform those listening that he’s different and have put forth the time & effort into establishing himself as a man of authenticity. YG is featured and seems to be right at home on this type of beat. He stayed in pocket and provided words of gratefulness and respect to the lessons nip have taught him over the years. Great song to listen to with the windows down.
Young N***a (feat. Puff Daddy)
This record starts off with a PARTYNEXTDOOR sample and is produced by Axl Folie, Ralo Stylez, Nipsey, Laurence Dopson & Mike N Keys. This song is bass heavy with Puff Daddy adlibs throughout. I feel as though this one will get the spins in the club.
Dedication (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Nip has batted 4 of 4 so far and this song is no different. Dedication is produced by Larrance Dopson, MyGuyMars, Mike N Keys, Ralo Stylez & Axl Folie. An inspirational song to let the listener know that when you focus on your craft, you can make your dreams come true. Kendrick Lamar comes through with a stellar verse that also shows how he has respect for Hussle Man as well “My nigga 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?/Level four yard livin’ given to false imprisonment’.
Blue Laces 2
For the hardcore Nip fans, Blue Laces 2 is a follow-up to the original that was released on The Marathon. Produced by Mike N Keys, Mr. Lee & Laurence Dopson, this record tells the story of one of his fellow gangbanger friends getting shot and how the situation played out. Lots of wordplay and jewels given on this one. Another favorite of mine.
Hussle & Motivate
Nipsey got the chance to pay homage to one of his idols with Hussle & Motivate. This one is produced by DO Speaks, Street Symphony, Brody Brown, Larrance Dopson & Mike N Keys. The Jay-Z “Hard Knock Life” classic sample is prominent throughout this song and has gotten a 2018 reface that surely will give fans of the Jiggaman a hint of nostalgia.
Status Symbol 3 (feat. Buddy)
Status Symbol 3 is the third installment of the series that was released on the Mailbox Money & Slauson Boy Vol. 2 mixtape and is produced by Mike N Keys. Hussle does his thing on here but the chorus is a little repetitive.
Succa Proof (feat. Konshens & J-Black)
I feel like this record will be a great single. Mike N Keys, Larrance Dopson & DJ Khalil are responsible for the production on this one, although I feel that it reminds me of the 2000s Swizz Beatz Era. This one is reminiscent of “Bam” by Jay-Z in the way that Nipsey is flowing throughout.
Keyz 2 The City 2 (feat. TeeFlii)
Keyz 2 the City 2 is a sequel to the track with the same name that was released on The Marathon. TeeFlii surprised me with his rapping ability. I knew of his ability to sing but nothing of his ability to float on the beat like he did here. Nipsey closes out the rest of the song with solid verses. JustJosh Music Group, Resource, Mike N Keys, Jake One & Teddy Walton all get production credit.
Grinding All My Life
Another inspirational track for Neighborhood Nip. Production on Grinding All My Life reminds me of what two people who had to settle their differences by dueling in the Old West would sound like (random, I know). Murda Beats is the lone producer.
A Million While You Young (feat. The-Dream)
This record starts off with a gentleman asking Nipsey how does one go about becoming successful and creating their own lane. Nip goes on to explain the best way he knows how to based off his experiences. The-Dream provides vocals towards the latter end of the record. Lamar “Mars” Edwards, G Koop, Jake One, Amaire Johnson & Mike N Keys lent a hand in the production.
Loaded Bases (feat. CeeLo Green)
Another standout track on Victory Lap Nipsey came to a point in his life where he had to decide to go all in with the street life or focus on his music craft. “Look, I was sittin’ on my Lincoln, I start thinkin’/N***a, I ain’t gon’ make a hundred mil’ off in these streets and/More than likely I’m gon’ end up in somebody’s precinct/Even worse, horse and carriage, front the church, laid off in a hearse”CeeLo Green comes through with a soulful chorus. Jake One & Larrance Dopson are responsible for producing.
Real Big (feat. Marsha Ambrosius)
“Real Big” is the album’s closer and another celebratory track. Nip had premonitions that he would be someone of greatness at a young age. The lovely Marsha Ambrosius closes out the album. Lamar “Mars” Edwards, Larrance Dopson & Mike N Keys blessed the record with their presence.
Double Up (feat. Belly & Dom Kennedy)
Double Up is a bonus track and produced by Axl Folie, IAMNOBODI, Teddy Walton & Larrance Dopson. Dom Kennedy jumps on the track with a Yellow Album type of flow. Those who have been disappointed over the past few years and have wanted that “Old Dom” will be appreciative.
Right Hand 2 God
Bonus track number 2 for Victory Lap has Lamar “Mars” Edwards, Mike N Keys & Larrance Dopson as the producers. This is the anthem for getting fly when you’re stepping out for a night on the town.
As the title suggest, Victory Lap is indeed the celebration for Nipsey and the fans that waited patiently for its release. As one of the year’s best releases, Neighborhood Nip continues to show how he’s a gem in today’s climate. Get your copy of Victory Lap on Amazon.
- Victory Lap
- Rap N***as
- Blue Laces 2
- Hussle & Motivate
- Loaded Bases (feat. Ceelo Green)
- Real Big (feat. Marsha Ambrosius)