This time last year Nipsey Hussle released an 18-track mixtape titled The Marathon as a declaration of his independence from his stalled label deal with Cinematic/Epic. Since severing ties, the rising west coast rap star has hit the ground running, redefining his grind with his own label All Money In, touring for the better part of 2011, offering up plenty of new music including The Marathon Continues this past November, and collaborating with a few unlikely stars.
Although his oft-delayed debut album South Central State of Mind remains off somewhere in the horizon, it only serves as one of the main motivating factors pushing Hussle along on his journey. BET.com caught up with Neighborhood Nip to discuss the next stops on his way to the finish line and who he’s been spotted working with to get there.
BET.com: I saw that you have like a viral video out for “Fly Crippin” are you planning to release more videos for songs off TMC?
Nipsey Hussle: Yeah actually the video for “Fly Crippin” was something a fan put together. We did a show in Kansas and they filmed our performance and I just liked how he put it together. It was more so like a leak of a live performance than it was a video. So we’re still gonna do an official video for “Fly Crippin.” We just came back from Japan where we shot “Forever on Some Fly Shit” with the same director that shot “Hu$$le in the House” and “Keys to the City.” So that’s gone be out pretty soon.
I can only imagine what that’s going to look like.
Yeah that’s gone be crazy. I ain’t seen the final edit yet but just from when we was playing back the shots. It’s just a crazy look. That city is just, it’s different from anything out here in the states. So I’m excited to see how that turns out. We also shot “Run a Lap” as soon as we got back from Japan out here in L.A.
The fan who made the video edited in that same audio of Steve Jobs speaking that you used on your song, “Who Detached Us?” That was such a powerful quote, but what specifically inspired you to add that in there and do a song like that?
Even before he died I was doing a lot of research on Steve Jobs because I just felt like he was someone you could soak up a lot of game from, seeing as how he built something like Apple from scratch. His story just kind of resonated with me, how he did things his own way, how he kind of pushed out his company and then had to rebuild at the point of already being established and successful he had to rebuild which is kind of similar to what I’m going through and what I went through with my label, with Epic. I just researched his story. I saw a speech he did at Stanford [University]. It was a commencement speech and it just moved me to the point where I showed everybody I knew. I showed my momma, I’m just like ‘You need to see this.’ We was just in the studio, late night brainstorming and I was like let’s see how that Steve Job sample, that speech he gave. Let’s see how that fits in there... I feel like it’s something necessary that people need to hear. It was something new for me. Even the song without the sample was a new style of song so, I just felt like it fit. It wasn’t too much science behind it.
What was it like when you went In the studio with Mac Miller? And how did you two link up?
You know Mac Miller he a cool cat and I had been conscious of what he was doing from a distance. But I was walking through the mall or something or the airport one day and I see a Billboard [magazine] and I see who on the cover of the Billboard and it was Mac Miller and me knowing him as being independent and not having a huge radio presence, that was big to me so when I saw that I twipic’d it and I put it on Twitter. I just gave him his props on that and was just like ‘That’s big.’ You know, it’s a sign of the times that we living in and you know he hollered back like ‘We fans of what you doing. We got a show in L.A. When we come out there we wanna get with you.” So he had two back to back shows at the House of Blues and when he finished he came by the studio and we chopped it up. It was you know just kicking it and played some music and all that and was just talking about the industry and I was just telling him how I really respect what he’s doing and it’s motivation for an artist like myself that’s doing it independent right now to see somebody even before he put out a No. 1 album he was... so I just wanted to give him his props on that... so he’s cool and we hit it off and knocked a couple records out.
I saw that you clocked in some studio time with Dom Kennedy as well. I know that not many people know this but you and Dom grew up in close proximity to each other. Did you paths ever cross prior to music?
Yeah before we did this song together we were both fans from a distance of each other’s movements. You know, just being in L.A. and like you said him growing up where he grew up and me growing up where I grew up, you know we know a lot of the same people. I went to school with Dom Kennedy baby mom, that’s my homegirl since we was young and just a lot of people in the circle I went to school with or grew up with. So it was only natural that we would link up eventually. I just wanted the song to be the right record. When he came by the studio I told him I was working on my new project and I was playing records for him and the one that he ended up hopping on, I had shouted him out on GP, just because and it wasn’t like he was even in the studio when I wrote that, that’s just how it came out and when he heard it they started laughing and smiling like ‘Yeah, let me jump on this.’ He went in and did his thing in 30-40 minutes, knocked it out and you know we did the House of Blues together in Hollywood and recently I came out at his show at the Music Box and we performed that together.
How was that show?
It was turnt up. Dom put on. It was a huge turnout. The whole Music Box was sold out. Everybody energy was up. He brought out Freddie Gibbs. He brought out YG. He brought out me. He brought out Skeme. It was A1. It was actually like, you know I expect a lot from Dom but it surprised me how big that show turned out because I don’t know the capacity of the music box but it was wall-to-wall. It was a lot of excitement in the air and the crowd was going crazy for every song so it was A1.
You were also tweeting with Travis Porter the other day is that a group you’d consider working with in the near future?
Yeah, I f**k with Travis Porter. Like I said, a lot of the artists that’s in our generation right now is getting the looks. A lot of the people, we came up together, grinding in the industry before we were exposed to the audience we have now and Travis Porter that’s one of the groups that, you know I was doing shows in Atlanta with Travis Porter early, early on at the little bootleg whole in the wall spots in the A. So to see they success and to see what we doing grow we support each other. I’m open to that all day and I’m a fan of what they do so it’s only natural we probably end up doing something.
So what’s the next project you’re working on?
I’m doing a couple things at once. I’m finishing off all the visuals off the TMC project and we kind of going at that with our full energy and trying to produce like real videos and promote real looks for the Internet and for the networks and while we do that I’m working on my new project. I haven’t titled it yet.
Is it an album or another mixtape?
I don’t want to even say if it’s gonna be an album or a new mixtape because I don’t know yet but we working on new music for 2012 and also we working on a collab project with me and another artist from LA and I don’t know if that’s gone be an album or a mixtape but we gone be working on that music.
You can’t say who it is?
I don’t want to say it yet because I want to announce it the right way but it’s a west coast artist that’s making a lot of noise and people are interested in what they doing so we’ve done records before that’s kind of big together so we wanted to put out a project, a mixtape and give them what they been f---ing with. Because the records we’ve done together, all of them been big so we just gone do a whole project see how it goes.
Correct me if I’m wrong but it seemed like you kind of went on a mini-hiatus before the release of TMC. Would you agree? And if so, what was that about?
I didn’t want to keep promoting the album that we didn’t have a set release date on, we didn’t have a business structure of how we was gone put it out. I didn’t want to keep hyping up sayings about what’s about to happen. I just wanted to present music and put on shows and restructure my movement. To the unsuspecting eye it looked like ‘oh Nip just kind of fell back.” But it was conscious I didn’t want to keep doing interviews and just keep regurgitating the same facts... But we ain’t never stop grinding. Don’t think that. This don’t stop.
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