WeAreHQ caught up with LA Rollin’ 60’s Crip, Nipsey Hussle on the last date of his The Marathon Continues (TMC) world tour at London’s XOYO. The Eritrean-American Crenshaw native continues on form, from his strong ‘Bullets Ain’t Got No Name’ mixtape series which garnered him a spot on the coveted XXL ‘Freshmen Class’ and the respect of the West Coast elite namely big Snoop Dog and The Game.
Welcome back to London. It’s been two years since your last visit — how are you finding being back?
I like London, you know. Like you said it’s my second time coming out here — I was out here in 2010, everything was lovin’, you know. People was real supportive and it was A1, so I figure now it’ll be bigger than last time. I’ve put out more music and had more success since then, so I’m lovin London and I’m excited about tonight — I can’t wait!
The latest mixtape is called The Marathon Continues. Could you tell us a little bit behind the thought process of the title?
Yeah it’s Part 2 to ‘The Marathon Series’, and the idea behind means a lot of things. I guess that the most literal meaning is like I was just in the studio at one point, just going hard — making songs and I was leaking ‘em to my Twitter and every and 1000 followers. I wanted to build up my Twitter fan base, so I was telling people every 100 followers, “I’ma leak a song” and I just called the campaign ‘The Marathon’. [For] every thousand followers, I put up a record, freestyle, jacked beat, original shit, whatever.
You know just feeding the fans and started getting so much music, I kinda stopped half way through and looked at all the music I’d have done and had got that momentum in the studio. I had to hold off — I had all these songs and put them in one project and to make it a full project and that was the first marathon. After I did that, the reception I got was real big and everyone connected to it. Did a tour off of it and toured the whole year of 2011.
At the end of the year we got back home. I got to go back in and you know get on some new music so that was ‘The Marathon Continues’. The idea was to stay consistent looking at things in the sense of long term and not over-night, in as far as me trying do it. You can’t really call yourself successful if you’re only successful for a short amount of time. You can’t necessarily say you’ve failed, if you got good results after a short amount of time without judging things over a long time scale. So like I said, the concept, it’s got a lot of meanings to it — more than anything it’s just motivation for me though. Just stay at it. Keep going on, you know what I’m saying? Stay down.
I think you’ve got a skill at remaining current. Your music has that air of timeless hip-hop. Is that something you’ve had to work hard at or does it come easy to you?
Nah, that’s love — that’s a good comment. I appreciate you saying that, but I feel like the type of music that I like, I grew up loving. I tried to have my music have the same effect — I want it to move people. I think that your intentions before you do things, it shows up, you know whatever it is. It’s your music, of pain, visibility, whatever your intentions is going into it, whatever you’re trying to do. I think you can see your intentions in it — you feel it.
My intention was to make something that I would like to hear or something that’s going to have a similar effect on people to the music that I grew up loving. I think that’s maybe why it connects with people — it’s timeless hip hop. It definitely don’t come easy, but when you work and practise and do this shit every day, I think that your confidence makes it easy. It’s fuelled by all the songs you have done and you can back all the progress you’ve made — that’s a fact and that fuels your confidence to keep going.
What artists are you listening on your playlist at the moment?
I’m listening to Childish Gambino, Meek Millz, Ross, Riz, and a lot of instrumentals.
Is it strictly hip-hop on your personal playlist or do other genres get play time?
Oh, other stuff other than hip-hop too! I listened to Alisha Keys the other day — RnB shit. Sade — old school shit and Prince — just anything that had a huge effect on people. I try to study it, I give it an ear and try to see if it relates to me. Sometimes it does, sometimes it don’t. I love music so a lot of the time it’ll be shit that ain’t been discovered but I like it, like [the time] I heard a record on a radio station in L.A — I went and bought the records on the same day, just cause I heard a record that moved me. It was called… I don’t even know how to pronounce it, like Gotye? I think he’s from Europe — out here — think it’s ‘Somebody I Used To Know’ [Nipsey's correct by the way]. As for hip-hop, artists that I’m feeling ASAP Rocky. I like his shit too, but all types of music, I’m open minded.
So there was not many West Coast artists on that list…
Oh, Don Kennedy too. I can’t sleep on Don Kennedy. I’ve been listening to has shit a lot lately. I’m excited about a new project too, ‘The Yellow Album’. I’ve been hearing his shit more focused and more potent every time I hear it. I heard his mix tape, ‘Next Level Swag’ — I feel like there’s new music he’s going to put out.
What’s you’re take on the current state of West Coast hip-hop?
It’s like the new generation is creating their legacy as we speak — we’re watching it happen. Artists become great, they drop classics, make real fans, make real history, so I’m excited about it. I feel like we finally got it — we finally got our own identity outside of people that have already done it. Before us, as far as the West Coast generation went, we finally get— I don’t even want to say recognition… I feel like artists on the West finally got the idea that, you just got to do what you do and nine out of ten artists are successful outside of Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, and I think that’s important cause a lot of times, I say this as a fan of Dre and Snoop Dogg.
I think the people, when they can see what artists do — a few names ringing right now — selling out shows, dropping mix tapes, doing numbers, signing record deals — a majority of them did it organically, through the Internet, out the trunk on the streets. So I’m excited about that — I’m proud of that, that’s what I respect the most about the movement out West. It’s just n*ggas grinding, taking advantage.
We’re already eager for more Nipsey — can you talk about the next project we can look forward to?
I don’t know which one it’s going to be. I’m working on two projects [including] solo projects, so I don’t wanna say the title yet. I’m releasing my album on the dates, so I’m kinda like real weary about talking ’bout shit before it’s done. I’ve got tonnes of new music, somebody killing the new rap game right now. I’ve been working with a lot of new producers, I feel like my new projects gonna be the best shit I put out, so release dates, titles and all that, they’re coming soon. I’ve got a master plan, but it ain’t at the point to start talking about it, but it’s coming soon though.
We see you doing more and more acting. Is that something we’ll be seeing more of in the future?
There were two movies I was a part of; Love Chronicles and Wrath of Cain that came about through Ving Rhames — he just brought me into that world. I would definitely like to do some more of that, but right now my main focus is music and mastering that, but eventually I would like to produce films, and act in a few select roles. Shout out to Ving Rhames too.
How far would you like to take it? Would you ever put the mic down and take up acting full time?
I couldn’t say that right now, that I would do that, but who knows. If I can be passionate enough to feel it and get from it what I get from music and could give through it the way I give through music, then I would like to. But I don’t think I would ever be able to put the mic down, just because that’s like a job to me. It’s really like therapy and a part of who I am. Catches on creates. It’s a relief to me — it’s like being around my family. How a drug addict feels when they been fiending, so think it’s a part of me to be healthy, to do music, so I don’t think I could put the mic down.
We know your are familiar with a few UK artists — who are you felling right now? And will we ever see a UK collaboration?
I would love to. I’m a big fan of Sway — Little Derek was like a classic to me. I didn’t even know who he was, we just came across his shit and listening to it. What the fuck, I didn’t even know n*ggas rapped like that in the UK. No disrespect, I just didn’t know. I was ignorant, I thought you guys speak another language, English shit. I heard it and thought, this shit is crazy.
I like Dizzee and Tinie Tempah. I haven’t had a chance to hear Squeeks’ shit, but I been hearing it through Twitter — they been tagging me, “Like listen to Squeeks”. His fans for sure rep him out here too, so shout out to him too and producers out here too. They up and coming, hungry, no name producers, being killing the scene already. So I’m out here — hit me on Twitter. Let’s do it.
Growing up in South Central LA has no doubt shaped you as a person and artist. You’re a student of philosophy and have travelled the world. How has this changed you as person and artist?
Man, tremendously. I think I’m a totally different person — not to the core — I will always be myself. But just my outlook, how I feel is just totally different, based on being successful in music to an extent, being able to travel. See all this shit, feel like it’s going to work — just having that faith and seeing like it can work did something to me — did something to everybody when they see that this can work. So I’m just focused and just working on myself on every level to be able to give the best, cos it’s such a big opportunity, so much can be done through it.
I would hate to mishandle it or take for granted. More than anything, it just makes me what to improve myself so I can put my best foot forward, step up to the plate, execute. People that feel like if they had the shot would go hard and I was that kind of person, but to get it you just got to check yourself. I got a shot — what you going to do — so yeah, I feel like it changed my whole outlook for the better.
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