JAY-Z Celebrates Nipsey Hussle With A Freestyle About Self-Empowerment (Video)

JAY-Z and Nipsey Hussle had a special bond. In many ways, the two men mirrored one another, albeit from different generations and different coasts. Both were entrepreneurs imbued with a hustler’s spirit, who used the lessons they learned from the streets, both good and bad, as tools of motivation for themselves and others.

Jay Z Buys 100 Copies Of Nipsey Hussle’s $100 Mixtape, Crenshaw

Perhaps it was that recognition of himself in Nip that caused Hov to purchase 100 copies of Nipsey’s Crenshaw mixtape, at the audacious price of $100 apiece. As Hussle said in his Mailbox Money song “Count Up That Loot,” “This beat ain’t even mixed, but it’s f*ckin’ perfect / They paid a hundred for my tape and it was f*ckin’ worth it / Shout out to Wendy Williams ’cause she helped it surface / Shout out my ni**a Jigga ’cause he made that purchase.” Whatever the case may be, the kinship each man had for the other eventually grew to a formal business relationship, with Nipsey joining Jay as a member of the roster of artists being managed by Roc Nation.

The close bond they shared had many looking to JAY-Z for words on Nipsey Hussle after his tragic death, but Jay remained relatively quiet. Rumors spread across social media that the man born Shawn Carter had set up a $15 million trust fund for the benefit of Hussle’s family. Those rumors were denied by Roc Nation, but many believe them to be true, with Carter preferring to keep the matter private. At Nipsey’s memorial service, held at the Los Angeles Staples Center, a letter from Jay also was included in the programs handed out at the event. Jay’s message read as follows:

” Renown late Professor, Dr, Howard Thurman introduced us – many years ago – to the existence of a new black man …..
“…. there is something in every one of us that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in ourselves and that IT is the only true guide that we would ever have. And that if we cannot hear it, we will all of our lives spend our days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls!”
“Top of the top,” this is how Nip always greeted me in the morning as if he was reminding me that he was steadfastly holding on to the top of the top of his own life string and destiny!
So, Top of the top – Nip
The world just got to see a flash of your brilliance.
You were a curious soul who was evolving at a speed that was truly inspiring.
The seeds you have planted are already bearing fruit.
The outpouring of admiration is testimony to the love and respect you’ve farmed.
Sleep well King, The Marathon continues as a line of energy for all of us to consider.

Despite those heartfelt written words, JAY-Z had not spoken publicly about the man that he called a business partner, friend, and, likely, mentee, until last night (April 26).

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During an exclusive performance re-opening New York City’s venerable Webster Hall concert venue, JAY-Z used his voice in tribute to Nipsey Hussle the way Hov does best: in verse. On a night that featured Nas joining on Jay on stage, and Jay and Cam’ron putting an end to their 15-year beef, it was perhaps Jay’s freestyle ahead of performing The Blueprint 2‘s “Some How Some Way” that was the evening’s most poignant moment.

In the spirit of so much of Nipsey Hussle’s music, Jay’s freestyle is about self-empowerment and working together to achieve a greater good. He opens with “Gentrify your own hood before these people do it / Claim eminent domain and have your people move in / That’s a small glimpse into what Nipsey was doing / For anybody still confused as to what he was doing.” Later in the verse, Jay raps “So, now we’re fighting over scraps / Crabs in a barrel but crabs don’t belong in a barrel / They ain’t never tell us that / So in the barrel we gon’ act like we act / We could easily get out the barrel if we stand on each other’s back / Whoever gets on top, as long as they stay attached / They can pull everybody out. I was doing just that.” From there, Jay relates his journey to that of Nipsey and where he was going.

If these serve as Jay’s only spoken words about Nipsey Hussle and his legacy, they are a fitting tribute from the man who supported Neighborhood Nip’s mission as much as anyone in his life, in his last years.