Replay value, something that is no longer a leading trait or stat in the music industry especially when it comes to hip-hop. What is probably the leading factor that goes into calling an album a classic project is now something that isn’t too prevalent in our culture. Reflecting back over the last calendar year of the music we’ve received from heavy hitters like Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, CyHi The Prynce, and Rapsody; they have shown us that their integrity still remains in their artistry to deliver to fans a cohesive project that is not only sonically enjoyable but will leave you lyrically pleased. Adding to that list of artists is West Coast King Nipsey Hussle. Nipsey after formulating a brilliant album roll-out and press run has released his long-awaited album completing the mixtape series, Victory Lap. Seeming to resemble Dr. Dre’s Detox, based off of the arrival time of Victory Lap fans like myself were more than ecstatic to hear when Nip dropped an actual release date for this project. After all of the build up and hype we finally have the complete debut project, and weeks after its release it has the accolades to support how good this album really is.
With what seems to be a flawless into track featuring Stacy Barthe the song “Victory Lap,” Nipsey is braggadocios from his time that he remained honorable in the streets to his legitimate success in business ventures that he’s currently acquiring more of. Segueing into the first single from the album “Rap Niggas” is a fucking west coast classic banger already. The energy that Nipsey brings forth is guaranteed to get you to spill some liquor on your shoes or get you in the middle of a mosh pit, so be safe with this one. To lead into yet another song that’s guaranteed for summer pool parties is “Last Time That I Checc’d” featuring YG. Now if you have any history about any track with a Nipsey and YG, you know that they are shooting 100% from the line with no miss in sight. From their last big hit “Fuck Donald Trump,” this is a great follow up to have you feeling yourself as if you run your city when you really don’t.
With 11 features on 16 tracks and only about 4-5 with actual verses from artists on the others, “Dedication” is lyrical sparring with none other than Kendrick Lamar as Nip’s sparring partner. This has been the theme with Nipsey for as long as I can remember that I’ve been listening to him. Discipline is something that he prides his self on having not only among his self but his team, which is how he’s come to enjoy his sacrifices now that the blueprint has come into fruition. Kendrick blesses the track telling not only part of his story that we are already familiar with but why he respects Nipsey being that they come from different gangs (Nipsey being a Crip and Kendrick a blood), yet Nipsey speaks and ACTS on building black businesses, self education, and owning our community. “Blue Laces 2” is my favorite track on the album and it’s upsetting because as amazing as this album is, I could not bring myself to hit the next button. Keeping almost the same beat from the original with some minor tweaks, this track is impeccable. This track strikes me in a realm of pain and understanding, with even a small reference to Marvel’s record breaking Black Panther movie. “ In a Spook by the door this the infiltration,” refers to a book about a CIA agent who was a token black in the agency and drops out to train Chicago blacks as “freedom fighters” to become militant black citizens; sound similar to the plot of the highest grossing solo superhero movie of all time? If you think so that’s because that story is similar to Michael B. Jordan’s “Eric Kilmonger” in the film. Blue Laces 2 is something that will definitely have you wanting to sit your seat back and cruise to in the car or roll up to.
We have received classic Nipsey Hussle mixtapes before, most notably being his Marathon series or the 2013 classic Crenshaw, but even he has said recently he has never put this much focus and emphasis methodically into not only a project but the other aesthetics and nuances that go into creating an album. From the way the track list was built to the instrumentals sampled to the different flows he used, Nipsey is clearly stepping further into his own artistry. You would think the way the beats were chosen that this is a Rick Ross album (Ross has a great ear for beats), however that is the help of Mike & Keys, 1500 or Nothin, Diddy and more. Mike & Keys and 1500 or Nothin are of my favorite producers that work with Nipsey and their chemistry produces nothing but classics.
I am a huge fan of Nipsey so with my bias, this album is a classic and I don’t care who debates it. I can’t be by myself based off of the reception of this album and its been out for a month. The support that Nip has received from rappers, fans, bloggers, athletes has all but certified this project as something truly cohesive that can be placed with the greater projects we’ve received from other artists recently that will surely stand the test of time. As not just another rapper but a real student of the game and intellectual, I understand the moves that were made and the patience needed for Nipsey to release his debut album. As someone who prides his self on ownership of his music and publishing, to work out a partnership deal with Atlantic Records after being noted for his Independent success, as the last step before his release shows me that he is calculated and is looking to stay here for the long haul (hence the term Marathon he so frequently uses). Go get Victory Lap today!