Nipsey Hussle & Kendrick Lamar Form A Westside Connection To Uplift Their People (Audio)
Nipsey Hussle and Kendrick Lamar have been steadfast voices of change from the streets of Los Angeles’ under-served communities. From Slauson Avenue to Rosecrans Boulevard, these two artists’ careers span more than a decade. Before there was major backing, these MCs hustled raps through powerful features, free projects, and seemingly touching every stage they could. As Nipsey Hussle approaches Victory Lap this Friday (February 16), he joins K-Dot as an artist using a major label platform, that refuses to conform.
“Dedication” is a fitting collaboration point. The album inclusion finds Nip’ breaking down his whole modus operandi in the third verse: “This ain’t entertainment, it’s for ni**as on the slave ship / These songs just the spirituals I swam against them waves wit / Ended up on shore to their amazement / I hope the example I set’s not contagious / Lock us behind gates but can’t tame us / Used to be stay safe, now it’s stay dangerous / ‘Cause ain’t no point in playin’ defense ni**a / That’s why I dove off the deep end ni**a, without a life jacket Couple mill’, tour the world, now my life crackin’ /Cook the books, bring it back so it’s no taxes / Royalties, publishing, plus I own masters / I’ll be damned if I slave for some white crackers / I was mappin’ this out, I hit the heights backwards / Hoppin’ out the eighty-five in Reebok classics / Ran a couple marathons just to get established / To make it happen, you got to have it.” Nipsey achieved famed on his own terms, and refused seemingly all offers until he achieved partnership fitting for his All Money In No Money Out business.
Kendrick’s verse, between two from Hussle, is also drenched in reality. “I spent my whole life staring at the stage / Playin’ safe ’cause daddy smokin’ sherm, mama playin’ spades / Catchin’ favors, grandma said I’d get some Jordans for my grades / That’s my baby, when she died my heart broke a hundred ways / I spent my whole life tryna make it, tryna chase it / The cycle of a Black man divided, tryna break it / You take a loss, sh*t don’t cry about it, just embrace it / Minor setback for major comeback, that’s my favorite / My ni**a L said ‘you do a song with Nip, K-Dot, but he a Crip’ / I said, ‘he a man first, you hear the words out his lips? / About flourishing from the streets to Black businesses? / Level four, y’all live and give in to false imprisonment / Listen close, my ni**a, it’s bigger than deuces and fours my ni**a’ / Since elementary we close my ni**a, you’re straight like that / I give you the game, go back to the turf and give it right back / For generations we been dealt bad hands with bad plans / Prove your dedication by hoppin’ out Grand Ams.” Kendrick, rapping about his lifelong friend L, shows that connecting with a rival Crip from the Blood-side of Compton is about their similarities, not differences. “Dedication” is about unity, Black empowerment, and building empires.
Additional Reporting by Jake Paine.