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Read "Victory Lap" by Nipsey Hussle (Album Review by Jhantu Randall)

Read More by Jhantu Randall
It’s been 19 days since the world became aware of a rapper who went by the name of Nipsey Hussle, a man who was gunned down in front of his own store, Marathon on Crenshaw and Slauson. Born Ermias Joseph Asghedom on August 15, 1985 he made quite an impact in the LA area in just 33 short years. Since his passing and publicly viewed funeral, news of all his good deeds, investments and visions have come to the general public's attention showing the image of a man whose essence left an impact on the world at large. By focusing on community investment, business ownership and self reliance which was funded largely by a rap career that became supplemental income, Nipsey was showing the blueprint of another way to build.

In the world of Hip-Hop, Nipsey always seemed to be mentioned among the class of freshman faces but the man had been putting out mixtapes since early 2005, so although Victory lap was officially his debut album he had an established following due to the series of mixtapes. This worked to Nipsey’s advantage as he had time to truly take his time and perfect his craft, Victory Lap wasn’t just Nipsey’s debut album, it was ultimately is strongest statement!

After his passing, much of Victory Lap comes off as both prophetic and quite reflective. A well deserved session that celebrates a life lived to the fullest and translated to wax for countless fans to hear. Kicking off with the self titled single “Victory Lap” featuring Stacy Barthe the song fuses a tropical sound with hard hitting lyrics where Nip speaks upon the moments that allowed him to get to this point. Shooting the video at the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, the visuals connect to you in a way that immortalizes Nipsey in a time capsule of his own creation.

The entire album is crafted so well that the fact that it didn’t win the Grammy for album of the year almost feels like an insult but at the same time gave it a pathway to legendary status as a result. Every track shows off Nipsey’s uniqueness and highlighted what made him stand out while also shining a spotlight on the thoughts of a man who seemed to be loved and respected by anyone and everyone he’d ever come across. While there are no fillers on this album, standouts include “Dedication” featuring Kendrick Lamar who openly gave Nipsey his flowers in life and showed it in the verse. A verse that actually accompanied as well as played off Nipsey’s quite well. “Key 2 the City” featuring Teeflii is one that’ll grab your ear off top but it’s “Hussle and Motivate” and “Grinding all my Life” that have become must listens whenever you find yourself searching for a way to reignite a fire within yourself. “Real Big” featuring the heavenly voice of Marsha Ambrosius is a track that I always find myself returning to. The combination of the 2 capture your attention right away and while the song itself spans over 15 minutes long, by the end it still feels too short once it transitions into”Double Up” Featuring Dom Kennedy and then to the final track, “Right Hand To God” which again sounds eerily prophetic considering all that has occurred.

After listening to Victory lap it left me with a odd mix of emotions. Honestly I had always been aware of who Nipsey was, I had listened to a few of his early mixtapes, but this album gave me hope for the future of the genre as Nipsey highlighted honor, intelligence, and growth in a world that promotes bad habits and simplistic, destructive behavior. I actually wish I had been a bigger fan sooner as I always pushed his philanthropic pursuits whenever I was made aware of them. Regardless, Nipsey Hussle’s Victory lap is a fitting title for a man who left us all too soon but now has added his name to a group of artists that are forever immortalized!

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