Nipsey Hussle sat down with Complex to work out his issues with the publication, as well as speaking of his upcoming "Victory Lap" project.
Nipsey Hussle has expressed frustration with the music industry recently, but it seems his problems extend towards rap criticism as well. After being approached for an interview with Complex, the rapper initially blew the publication off, tweeting that it would cost them $10,000 for a sit down. Eventually he did agree to a conversation, but made sure to make his issues with the magazine (and media in general) very clear.
The main point of tension was a list of "10 Underachieving Rappers" that Nipsey was placed on, not out of a lack of respect, but a desire to hear more from the rapper. Hussle nevertheless took offense to his placement, and proceeded to voice his dissatisfaction with rap criticism at length, speaking of the disconnect between hip hop journalism and the culture it covers.
The LA rapper also spoke of his upcoming mixtape turnt album, Victory Lap, and his near-signing with Rick Ross' MMG.
Read some excerpts from the interview below, and check the full transcript over at Complex.
On appearing in Complex's 10 Underachieving Rappers list:
I didn’t take personal offense to that. As a hip-hop artist in 2013, with the technology, the landscape of the industry and the culture, things are changing. We’re in a transitional period. We assume that editors of a credible magazine are intelligent people. We assume that these are people up on the state of things in the world, outside of just hip-hop. Leading up to that article, I went to Complex, I played my albums for Complex. Complex was a big supporter from day one of my shit. But I started to see a change in the stance it was taking. It was almost like sarcastic…it made me think, Do you guys even like hip-hop? Is Complex a magazine that has love for the culture? I started to see real sarcastic and degrading articles.
I understand being critical, that’s what keeps artists on top of their game. If they do some wack shit, there’s gonna be an honest write-up about their shit. What I got was that somebody in that building had a disgust for hip-hop. It was like a bougie stance from where they’re writing from. That’s what I took offense to. I see a lot of that in our culture right now. This shit came from the streets. This shit came from the people. This shit came from the struggle.
On rap criticism vs culture:
Number one, who is an editor to have an opinion on a street nigga? Bottom line. Those editors don’t live this life. They don’t go through the struggle. I’m from the Rolling 60's my nigga. They don’t understand what putting an album out is to me. It ain’t the same as one of them backpack niggas, or one of them college-rapping types. That ain’t the shit I do. I got enemies. I went to war for real in between albums. My life is real. So when I hear about an editor asking: What’s up with my output? I’m like: What’s up with you even commenting on my life? Niggas don’t know my life. That’s the bourgeoisie approach that I get offended by because this ain’t no bubble. This ain’t no vacuum we doing this music out of. That’s why people connect to the pain in it. Because it’s real. That’s the part they should respect. These radio hits, these charts, they don’t validate the truth and the message. That’s when I start to be like, “Okay, you ain’t got a record on radio. You ain’t put an album out officially, so you’re an underachiever.”
That’s where I get offended because let’s restart this whole situation. The metrics and the gauge of success, and of impact on the culture. It don’t got shit to do with Billboard, it don’t got shit to do with SoundScan. It don’t got shit to do with any of these platforms that the business created. This shit is a culture. This shit is our life. You understand? So in between my projects does it take a year or two, or another artist that live a real life? Does it take them a year to put a project out? Because he wants to retain ownership. He wants to do what they refuse to let you do and that’s control his own destiny. He don’t wanna be exploited by the music industry that been traditionally exploitive to our creators. Then he end up on lists like the Top 25 Underachievers.
On "Victory Lap" being an album, rather than a mixtape:
I was in negotiations with a few major labels and we were almost close to a deal. So I started promoting Victory Lap as a mixtape before my album, because I was gonna drop Victory Lap, announce my deal, and go into the album; but I realized that the structure of these companies aren’t built to give me any type of ownership. They wanna give you a check. I told them keep the check, give me an asset and just market and distribute my shit. I don’t need a check. They wanted to give me all this money up front but I’m like, keep the money. Let me be involved as a partner. And niggas couldn’t do that. And it’s not because the people at the label didn’t want to help me. It’s because the corporate structure of their companies would not allow ownership. And I’m offended by that. I called an audible and I withstood social pressure. I believed in my heart that I would be less of a man to not stand up for what I believed in. I felt like it was racist. Like, I don’t deserve some shit I just built by myself? You want to give me some money? Oh, because you don’t think I know what the asset is? You think I don’t understand where the real value is? Well I’m offended by that and my goal changed. I didn’t do a press release or tell nobody about it. I just let my demonstration speak. And now they’ve seen the first part of it with the Crenshaw shit. That’s just a small piece of what my plan is.
On nearly joining MMG:
Me and Rick Ross sat down and talked and he made it clear that he can make the deal that I need. And I told him that I don’t need money, I need a partnership. I needed a marketing machine and I needed international distribution for my product. Ross fought tooth and nail to make that happen for me. I respect him and salute him for that; but then we ran into the corporate structure of these companies. And again, it offended me, because here you have one of the most powerful, respected niggas in the game about to make a power move that’s going to incite the culture and they want us to be the ones that compromise. They should be the ones to compromise for the culture so this thing can happen. We’re not supposed to compromise and that’s what they said. They said, “Just be happy with the hood and happy with the fame of it and how it’s gonna make it look. It’s gonna be big. You’re gonna be the biggest nigga out of the West,” and all this other shit. Sell that to a ho, my nigga. I’m a man.