Nipsey Hussle & Dr. Dre Drop Jewels On A New Song
Nipsey Hussle was a student of Dr. Dre. In 2009, the South Central Los Angeles, California MC modeled his album-making plans after the N.W.A. co-founder. “I remember Rap when 2001 came out how people reacted—especially from [my] generation,” Nipsey told XXL in 2009, celebrating a decade since Dre’s comeback campaign album. “We used to ditch school and rap the whole album, you know what I mean? Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and 2001, we knew all the songs by heart, singing all the curse words. It most definitely impacted me.” He pointed to Dre’s Chronic and 2001 as examples of top-tier album-making. “Both of his records is like that. It’s not just random songs. Everything is real music, produced fully, the way Quincy Jones would go at a record.”
Less than a decade after making those statements, Nipsey Hussle was tragically killed outside his Marathon store. However, like Dre, Nip’ was able to leave his mark with an album that many consider a classic, in 2018’s Victory Lap. After Hussle’s death, two songs from the All Money In No Money Out/Atlantic Records LP earned posthumous Grammy Awards.
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During Nipsey’s life, Heads never got the Dr. Dre collaboration that they waited for. While Dre embraced Nipsey’s West Coast Rap peers, including Bishop Lamont, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Young Maylay, and Slim The Mobster, the two artists never released material together. That changes with “Diamond Mind,” a song from this week’s Grand Theft Auto Online: The Contract that also features Ty Dolla Sign—another worthy artist who brandishes the Cali style and sound. As confirmed by Alchemist, the song’s production is credited to Dre, Al, and longtime Nipsey suppliers Mike & Keys.
The song opens with profound Nipsey lyrics: “We live this Marathon life / ‘Cause one day we gon’ all die / Not a stranger to them hard nights / But when we look up, we see our sky / We see potential in the moment / We used to have to rent, now we own it / No hesitation, we be on it,” spits the artist who regularly preached ownership, self-empowerment, and hard work. “This Rollie is thе symbol that represent my resilience / The Marathon’s my leverage, negotiations was brilliance / Put my feet up on the desk, never / We just re-up to the next level / VVS the nothin’ less bezel.” Ty Dolla echoes Nip’ at the chorus: “This crazy life of mine / Can make a grown man cry sometimes / Lookin’ up at the sky at night / Prayin’ for better days, better times / This crazy life of mine.”
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Dre handles the second verse that makes the collaboration a moment: “Listen, Doc Dre, you know I don’t show up often / Uh, but when I do, I put sh*t in motion / Motion picture sh*t, ni**a, picture me rollin’ / A composer with composure, bitch, I’m Compton’s Beethoven / Silhouettes and naked bodies layin’ in the sand / Now that’s California love, you know who the f*ck I am / Still hood, still good, Chucks on my butlers / Soundtrack in every neighborhood and causin’ all this ruckus / Mm, Compton bully in this motherf*cker.” The lyrics reference Dre’s work with another gone-too-soon MC, Tupac Shakur. The billionaire adds, “So tired of ni**as talkin’ when they just ballin’ on the budget / Still feel like a strugglin’ artist and better believe I still love it.”
Ty closes out the song with the proper tone in a half-long, twice strong series of bars: “I’m purifyin’ my soul / I’m settin’ my intentions and I conquer my goals / It’s been a long journey, had to hop on the road / It’s been a long journey, had to get up and go / It’s been a few years since my ni**a been gon’ / Blew some in the air for my ni**a to smoke / I was your dog, you was my loc, then you turned to the G.O.A.T / ‘The Marathon Continues’ written in bold.” The two artists got to work together previously, and Ty makes sure to close out the record honoring Neighborhood Nip.
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Not only Dre and Nipsey’s first song, “Diamond Mind” marks Alchemist and Nipsey’s first union. Dre and Alchemist have not shared credits previously, but both have been behind the boards on albums by Raekwon, Mobb Deep, and Eminem.
#BonusBeat: A recent Ambrosia For Heads What’s The Headline podcast about Dr. Dre’s 2021 comeback, including an upcoming Superbowl Halftime Show: