An exclusive interview with Nipsey Hussle.
Last week Nipsey Hussle decided to let go X-tra Laps, which consisted of a slew of tracks that didn't make it onto The Marathon Continues, making his fans and blogs extremely happy. It also reminded us why we love Nipsey. We were able to reach him on the phone to talk about what the future holds, and also discuss his start in the rap game. Nipsey only recently partnered up with DJ Skee, the details of which are still a little foggy so we found out about that as well. Nipsey is definitely coming up and it only makes sense, he's been working on his rap since the young age of 12!
Read our exclusive interview below.
Nipsey Hussle: Hello
Nipsey: What's going on?
HNHH: Oh nothing just chilling, how are you doing?
Nipsey: I’m A1.
HNHH: So what are you doing tonight, going to the studio? What do you usually do on a Friday night?
Nipsey: This Friday night I'ma be in the studio. That's really what my life consists of, the studio and concerts, and taking care of business inbetween those two things.
HNHH: Yeah. So you just released X-tra Laps and those were just songs that didn't make it onto The Marathon Continues?
Nipsey: Yeah exactly, I just thought it'd be kinda cool, 'cause an artist always know everything he does, you know what I'm saying, all the record he starts and don't end up in the public and just sit on the harddrive. And I asked the fans if they wanted to hear some of this stuff on Twitter and everybody was like “hell yeah put it out!”
HNHH: For sure.One of those tracks was “Bulgari Shades,” and I found it had a different sound for you, not what I am used too, there was a guitar and stuff, but it's dope. Can you tell us a little about that track?
[Nipsey Hussle- "Bulgari Shades"]
Nipsey: Yeah, I mean, um, most of the records on the original Marathon, at the end it was like bridges where, you know, it was outta tune and even before we started working on TMC we were doing shows and touring off The Marathon and that's the part the crowd would remember the most, when the beat broke down, I'd get a mic to the crowd and they'd sing that shit for me so we just expiremented tryin’ all type of records, we used meoldies and instruments a little bit more and that was one of the records that was the by-product of that little faze of experimenting. And um, I didn't think it fit on a project of mine 'cause just like you say it was such a different sound but, you know, that was one of the reasons why I held it back and then [when] I released the X-tra Laps 'cause I wanted to pull it out the air and see how they react to it...I didnt even want to see how they reacted to it, I just wanted to give them the records that didn't make it and, you know, however they took it that's how they took it.
HNHH: I also found the content was a bit different, more sensitive.
HNHH: How did you start off rapping? What initially drew you to the rap game?
Nipsey: Um, just being a fan of music really, growing up, loving music, loving hip-hop especially, and being inspired by all the artists that was out and that was crackin', just wanting to kinda take my shot at it, I already tried it when I was young, playin' around with it and then you know I kinda got addicted to--
HNHH: How old were you?
Nipsey: I was probably about 11 or 12 when I started writing my first raps and then I started liking the process and then from there got access to studios, and then started investing a little money into recording, and then around the age of like 18,19 I was just like, I'ma take it serious and start to pursue [it] you know?
HNHH: But when you were just starting your rap career, and like you weren’t taking it that seriously, was it hard to give up the streets and just focus on the rap?
Nipsey: I mean it was on and off, you know, sometimes I'd commit myself to rap, like I said, around 18,19 I invested everything I had in studio equipment and took everything I had as far as money, and cars, and jewelry and sold everything and invested in the movie and since then its been like an on and off relationship, from that point when I was 18,19 'til when I got my first record deal when I was 22, it was just on and off, you know, I’d be real focused and serious about it for 6 to 7 months of the year and then things would get real and I’d feel like I gotta get back out there and get some bread. I was so used to just living a certain lifestyle, you know what I mean, and having certain comforts, it was just kind hard at first to leave everything alone for music. But at a point music started paying for me and started looking like it was actually gunna, you know, be a reliable way for me to make money and sustain myself so that helped me [to] just do music.
HNHH: Yeah, okay. Most recently you've signed with DJ Skee's music label, how did that come about?
Nipsey: Um, I didn’t sign to his label, basically we partnered up.
HNHH: Oooh okay, so you're still--
Nipsey: Yeah, so I’m still independent, we got a label "All Money In No Money Out," and that's where we're gunna put my project out and that's me and my three partners, Adam Fatz and Black Sam. And basically with DJ Skee, we partnered up [for] basic management, branding, marketing, and basically utilizing the platform he built for exposure and content distribution.
Nipsey: I don’t know if y'all familiar with all the things he does, but he got a unique situation with his company, you know, they got offline distribution in restaurants and bus benches, and billboards.
HNHH: Yeah I read about that.
Nipsey: Yeah and then he got the online stuff with Skee TV and the radio stuff with satellite radio and Kiss FM In LA. And he got real strong relationships with a lot of brands and corporations, so it just makes sense, me being an independent artist, to bridge what I was doing in the studio and what I had going on the streets to what he was doing with the corporations and just with, you know, media outlets and stuff like that. It’s basically a bridge between myself and the people and I feel like you know, we worked together a few times on concerts and on releases and once I really got educated on, you know, what he offered it was really a no-brainer. I asked him if he could come aboard and he was like, “yeah, let’s do it.” We haven’t really even pressed play on that situation yet, we been planning a lot but you know, throughout this year you’re gunna see the fruits of that relationship 'cause there’s a lot we’re about to do.
HNHH: Okay, so what about the rumours that were circulating about you joining MMG? What was going on there, you guys are still chill?
Nipsey: I mean you know, a couple people asked me about that, first and foremost I'm a fan of every artist over there, Ross, Wale, Meek, and I respect what they're doing business-wise. And what we [are] for sure doing, we got some music together, we got some records, those’ll be [heard] pretty soon, and everything else, there’s a possibility that a lot of things can happen, but nothing is official yet, and I dont wanna go into too much detail, speak prematurely on anything, but you know.
HNHH: What about an album from you, can we expect that in the near future?
Nipsey: I mean, you know, eventually I’m gunna put an album out, when exactly, I dunno yet. I got music I’m working on for this year.
HNHH: For an album or...?
Nipsey: I’m working on music, I dunno what it’s for, if we get the situation we looking for, we put it on the shelf, if the situation doesn’t present itself this year [then we won't], but we just not gunna, you know, jump the gun. We wanna be in control of the music we put out, own our shit, we wanna put it out through our company, and you know, we have to set the stage for that and we have to kinda build to that level. The mixtapes, the touring, the features, and all that, the videos [are all] leverage to build to the end game and the goal, which is to, you know, create a company and release music through it, which is "All Money In."
HNHH: Well, you're obviously aware of your resemblance to Snoop Dogg, I’ve heard you mention it in songs, and the fact that you're both from the West Coast, do people jump to conclusions about you and your music based off that alone? Do you think you and Snoop share any other similarities, or it ends there?
Nipsey: A lot of people when I first came into the game drew comparisons and were like, “that’s the next Snoop Dogg” and all that, and I guess that’s natural for people to compare what they aren’t familiar with things they are familiar with, but I think that as an artist or as anybody that’s making a name for themselves you kinda have to define yourself through your actions and your demonstrations. So yeah, we do share similarities, the area we from, our affiliations, the style of the music that I came into the game doing, you know. But I think as time goes on, and as I do my job, that's my job as an artist, to, you know, voice my distinguishing qualities and, you know, draw the line and be vocal about what makes me unique. And the only way to do that is through music, through the records and the way you present your brand. You know, I think that the people that’s paying close attention, they don’t make those comparisons anymore, but the ones that kinda watch from the distance, and catch the videos or photos every now and then still make those comparisons, but you know, it’s a difference in the type of fans.
HNHH: Yeah for sure. How did your name, “Nipsey Hussle” come about?
Nipsey: Yeah, that was just something that my homies threw at me one day, just in a joking fashion. You know, I used to be, you know, the youngest, I used to be always focused on grinding and getting bread. And uh, one day, I just came into the studio, everybody was in the studio working for weeks, so everybody money was tapped out, all outta weed, all outta liquor and all that, and I came into the studio with basically everything, set it on the table and was like, “this is for us,” and I would do that a lot, you know. Me being a young dude, I was like seventeen, I just kinda liked how it [Nipsey Hussle] sounded and at the point I had no rap name, I was just playing with it still, I was seventeen, just curious about recording and stuff, and you know, when I decided to take it serious that name kinda stuck with me, and it just had like a sound to it, a ring to it to kinda stick with you, and it’s an obvious play off ‘Nipsey Russle.’
HNHH: Cool, well you talked a little bit about that you were working on music with MMG, do you have any collaborations in the future that you’re really looking forward to that you could tell us about?
Nipsey: Yeah, you know, I been doing a lot of features lately, but the ones that I’d say I’m most excited about, I got a record with Ross that you know I’ma put out on my next project, me and Meek Mill did a few records, me and YG got a record on his new mixtape that I feel real strongly about. Other than that, we just working, and a lot of the songs, um, I don’t necessarily wanna give them up yet cause I don’t know where they’re gunna land, if they gunna be on my project or somebody else’s project, but I been in the studio with a lot of artists and they gunna be coming out this year, so keep yours eyes open.>
HNHH: So is there something in particular your fans should be on the look out for?
Nipsey: I mean, right now we been getting all these videos off of TMC shot and gunna put those out over the next couple weeks and month and, uh, we gettin' ready to hit the road at the end of February, so all the fans that didn’t catch us on the last [tour] we going to New York city this time, we gunna finally get to Canada, and so, um, they can come check us out live and make more music. That’s really the main focus right now, is just see the fans and make quality music and just get better with every project.
HNHH: So you said you’re coming to Canada?
Nipsey: Yeah I got Toronto on March 14th, and I think there are some other Canadian dates around Toronto too.
HNHH: Cool. I just wanted to end by asking a few personal questions, so what are you currently listening too?
Nipsey: I’m listening to Rich Forever by Ross, I like that mixtape a lot. Um, Dreamchasers by Meek, um, I’m looking forward to Wiz’s new project, you know I’m a fan of Wiz, that’s the homie, I’m a fan first. What else, man? I’m listening to my new stuff I’m working on, I’m looking forward to Dom Kennedy’s new project, he got a project coming out called the Yellow Album, so I’m looking forward to that. And uh, what else, man? You know that’s the hip-hop I’m listening to right now. And all my classic stuff like Boosie, Pac.
HNHH: And what's your favorite pair of shoes?
Nipsey: My favourite pair of shoes? Black pair of chucks.
HNHH: What do you prefer? Blunts vs. papers?
Nipsey: It depends, if I’m in the street blunts, if I’m in the studio papers.
HNHH: Indica vs. sativa?
Nipsey: Sativa probably.
HNHH: Sativa? Yeah me too I prefer that.
HNHH: Tattoos vs. piercings?
Nipsey: I got my ears pierced that it’s though.
HNHH: Yeah, you have tattoos?
Nipsey: Yeah I got tattoos.
HNHH: So which do you prefer?
HNHH: Tour vs. being in the studio?
Nipsey: Um, you know, I’d rather be in the studio, but you know, it’s a close second to being on the road, like I enjoy that almost as much; performing the records and getting in front of the fans and you know, getting paid every night, that’s always a good thing. But if I had to choose I’d rather be in the studio just ‘cause I get a different feeling creating than I do performing.
HNHH: And high tops vs. low tops?
Nipsey: Low tops fo sho.
HNHH: Okay, cool! Well, it’s been nice talking to you!
Nipsey: Likewise. I appreciate HotNewHipHop supporting everything I do.
HNHH: For sure.