It’s been a whole decade since I’ve waited for your debut album Victory Lap to drop, what took so long? The anticipation was crazy, but still, the album was exactly what I expected it to be — a MASTERPIECE!
To prove it, the album dropped three weeks ago and I’m still knocking 25/8. From the first song, my soul was entrapped. Powerful lyrics describing how long it took to complete your music marathon and run your victory lap, both surprised and educated me.
On the title track, you voice how difficult it was to come up in an environment designed to make you fail. Still, that same environment forced you to grind your whole life and developed a hustler’s mentality that you are now stuck in.
I mean, stepping into the music industry is already no easy feat and I must say that I’m proud of you for staying true to your passion. In your NPR interview, you touched on the time period you glowed up in. Somehow, unlike the rest of those close to you, you were able to navigate in a hood flooded with narcs, opposing gangs, and bullets with no name.
On the highlighted lyric, “I’m an urban legend / South Central in a certain section / Can’t explain how I curbed detectives, guess it’s / Evidence of a divine presence.” you let fans know about the divine presence that took you to the top. You said,
“If you check the stats — the murder rates and incarceration rates in the years I was a teenager in L.A. — in my section of the Crenshaw District in the Rollin’ 60s, none of my peers survived. None of my peers avoided prison. None of ’em. Everybody got bullet wounds and felonies and strikes. So to make it out mentally stable and not in prison and not on drugs, that’s a win. That’s a victory in itself. Then to be in the position I find myself in as an artist and entrepreneur who has respect around the world; that’s legendary. And I say it in the most humble way…”
You continued to express your struggle, “That’s what I was talking about in that line. When I reflect on it, it’s unbelievable. It’s gotta be evidence of a divine presence because it wasn’t that I’m just the smartest dude or just wiggled my way through. It had to be a calling on my life and I started to see that.”
By the way, definitely, dap up Stacy Barthe the next time you see her. Her presence on the intro was much needed. Remember that time she graced your fans with her beautiful voice on “Mercy?” Slauson Boy 2 wouldn’t have been the same without her.
Think about it, with an intro like that, the rest of the album speaks volumes. Who would’ve thought songs like “Keys to the City”, “Status Symbol”, and “Blue Laces” could’ve gotten better? I’ll tell you brotha, only a genius can recreate genius and do it better. It’s even harder when you’re emulating yourself, trust.
Watching a real dude from the block getting sealed in at the top feels good. Especially when it’s one of us overcoming tremendous odds and winning without losing himself to the process… Bravo.
I have to admit, Nip, your influence on me and on others is crazy. I can’t even continue penning this letter without bringing up the homie, Israel. Must’ve been crazy to have someone pull up on you like that, I probably would’ve done the same thing.
Anyways, I really thought you would find this video type crazy, Maybe Israel can hit up this producer he remixed his voice with the fire video. God got it! Peep.
I really hope everything that you’ve worked for was worth it. I know that you’ve been through a lot you can hear the pain in your lyrics but deadass, “true focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity.”
Copped that quote from X-Men: First Class when Prof. Xavier was training Magneto. Don’t know if you have ever seen the flick but there’s a lot of fictional inspiration from that movie you can apply to real life.
Speaking of real life inspo, I can’t even imagine the vibes you felt when you had Lauren driving the droptop, a clean white t-shirt on, and sitting on the edge of life between hustling and motivating.
The feeling when you realized Jay-Z set you up for success making that “Hard Knock Life” beat available for all artists who wanted to use the instrumental after him.
You really are a genius, my guy. Just look at what you did with Crenshaw and Mailbox Money. You made stupid guap selling each for $100 and $1000 respectively. You even started a whole movement that dedicated and new fans were more than “proud to pay” into.
Nipsey, your blueprint of the rap game has never been seen before. Hopefully, we can all take a chapter out of your life, fuck a page, ju hurd.
For all those who haven’t woken up from their slumber, I feel bad for them, Victory Lap is a must listen and the beginning of a rap legend’s story. Make sure the haters download that and read the album’s in-depth description on NPR.
Word is bond Nipsey. You have set the tone for a lot of fraudulent rappers out there and real rappers trying to make it. Keep up the good work, cuz. I have a hard copy of Victory Lap unopened at the crib waiting for you to put your autograph on it.
Stay Fly and Focused.
Your true fan,
Claude J. Easy
P.S. – When you coming back to NY? Swizz and I know you are on your Ruff Ryder, Roc-a-Fella murder shit. Ayee, we live from the ghetto, you been down, you deserve this shit!