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‘What It Feels Like’ solidifies Nipsey and Jay-Z as rap’s greatest duo

The impression Nipsey Hussle left on the Black community and the fact that Jay-Z was born on the same day of Fred Hampton’s assassination has to mean something… Especially, after the new “What It Feels Like” track tease from the Judas and the Black Messiah soundtrack, for those reading this, the feeling must be mutual.

Nipsey Hussle and Jay-Z drop “What It Feels Like” inspired by the film Judas and the Black Messiah

Looking at Nipsey Hussle and his career as a whole, one would call him a great, some would even go as far as to call him a prophet. Truthfully, after his death, I thought of him more as a Black Messiah.

The similarities were there. From the miraculous movements he made within the music industry to his untimely death by the hand of his own people, it’s hard not to compare.

He spoke truths and it instilled power. Which in turn instilled fear amongst a group of people who might’ve felt uncomfortable by the inspiration to feed and invest in our neighborhoods and give power to the Black dollar.

Look, the only reason I survive ’cause a ni–a is special, first
You get successful, then it get stressful, thirst
Ni–as gon’ test you, see what your texture’s worth
Diamonds and pipes, wonder when pressure burst
Street ni–a, still I get checks, disperse

– Nipsey Hussle, “What It Feels Like,” Judas And The Black Messiah: The Inspired Album

The same goes for Jay-Z. Time and time again he has proved that he is for the education of our people. Whether it’s dishing out financial literacy through hot bars or setting the example, he’s always been there to lean on for Black knowledge.

I know that payback’s gon’ be mean, I’m savin’ all my little bread
Pray for me, y’all, one day I’ma have to pay for these thoughts
Real ni–as is extinct, it ain’t safe for me, my dawg
Killin’ ni–as in they own hoods, that make sense to you at all?
You burnt your bridge to the other side, you know you can’t swim across

– Jay-Z, “What It Feels Like,” Judas And The Black Messiah: The Inspired Album

Jay-Z gives advice to artists during a fireside chat at Columbia

Truth be told, there is a reason why the Judas and the Black Messiah film has arrived now. There’s a reason why “What It Feels Like” hits harder as Nipsey and Jay-Z strategically weave through a sonic tunnel of inspirational snares, horns, and kicks.

We, Black people, needed to take a look at the struggle and what it’s taken to step into the royal place we deserve to be. History has taken some of our best leaders away from us. Repeating itself, it reopens a scar and serves as a reminder that we’re still in the fight. The fight for respect.

Judas and the Black Messiah – Official Trailer

Still, nothing is forgotten and what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger and wiser. Ultimately it sets the tone for the next generation of leaders to thrive and to look at the world from a different perspective. A perspective of promise.

This new track only proves one thing: if Nipsey Hussle was still alive, he and Jay-Z would, without argument, go down as the greatest rap duo of all time.

As we wait for the full soundtrack, Judas and the Black Messiah hits HBO Max and theaters Feb. 12.