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Nipsey Hussle on the Genius of Master P, Upcoming Joint Album With YG & Being the 'Tupac of His Generation'

Nipsey talks to Bilboard about his plans now that 'Victory Lap' is out. 

For the record, Nipsey Hussle never once said that his ideas weren't wild and crazy. After a brief stint with Epic Records in 2010, Nipsey scoffed at the concept of being on a major label, in hopes of gaining traction as an independent artist on the rap circuit.

While his contemporaries gained immediate success courtesy of their label signings, Hussle faced the arduous task of working backwards in order to gain stardom and liberation, later facing criticism because his debut album, Victory Lap, encountered numerous delays and setbacks. Undeterred, in 2013, the MC laughed straight to the bank after the release of his seminal project, Crenshaw, which birthed his #Proud2Pay marketing campaign. The unprecedented plan allowed Hussle to sell 1,000 copies for $100 a purchase. Not only did he manage to meet his goals, one of his childhood heroes, JAY-Z, saluted his efforts and purchased 100 copies of his own.

Unsatisfied with his impressive success, Hussle tinkered with his concept and stretched the campaign even more with his 2014 release, Mailbox Money. This time, he upped the price from $100 to $1000 and only sold 100 copies. Within the first month of selling, Nipsey managed to sell 60 copies, earning him $60,000 alone. While he could have easily continued on with the #Proud2Pay campaign, instead of exhausting the idea, he brought his label All Money In over to Atlantic Records last year, for the release of his long-awaited official debut album, Victory Lap.

Laced with bombastic production, Nip's swagger on the set is bulletproof. On the opening track, he sets the tempo by telling listeners over the soulful soundscape, "I'm prolific, so gifted/ I'm the type that's gon' go get it, no kiddin'." Even when standing alongside rap behemoth Kendrick Lamar, his level of confidence remains unruffled, as he boldly calls himself the "Tupac of my generation," on the Kendrick-featuring "Dedication."

With his debut album slated to bow in the top five on the Billboard 200, Nipsey Hussle's late arrival to the mainstream world seems to still be right on time. Now, one can only wonder, where will he go from here? Billboard sat down with the West Coast lyricist at Del Frisco Grille in New York City to talk the creation of Victory Lap, Donald Trump, the genius of Master P, his relationship with Rich Ross and MMG, and similarities he sees between himself and Tupac Shakur.

While I was in LA, I went back and I was playing your song “Killer” featuring Drake, and in my head, I started doing a comparison. You and Drake almost came up at the same time, and took very different routes, but y’all are both successful. How did you manage to get to this point where you are today, to be so successful despite any setbacks you had?

I think you said it. I took a different route. I wanted to learn how to do it myself, as an artist and as a company. I built a company at the same time I built a career. I built a label at the same time I built a career. I suffered at times and I benefited at times because of it. There was no infrastructure that I came into. I had to learn through trial and error -- I made a lot of mistakes, and I did a lot of things right. It was the route that I believed in and what was destined for me. I always had faith in my creative capacity. I say that in the most humble way: I always knew that I could perform with the best of ‘em and I could deliver with the best of ‘em.

Let’s say I accept my greatness as an artist, and fast forward to me being acknowledged globally as a great artist. In my perfect dream, how would I want my shit to be situated business-wise? I’d want to be on my own label. I’d want to represent my brothers and my team. So, I worked backwards. I believed I was going to be recognized globally as a great artist one day so I was willing to put the work in. I wanted to make sure that to get there, I didn’t diminish the opportunity to do it as All Money In and do it as my own team. That was the goal coming into it.

That’s why we had to build our value outside of the major labels so we could prove our worth. It was part of a bigger picture. To the public and to the, I guess, the critics, it might have been perceived as, “What’s taking so long?” I was comfortable with that. I never explained it, and I never went into detail about it, because I don’t ever want to make excuses. That was my strategy to get here.

One of the things I’m most proud about is, if you look at the album, it says “All Money In - Atlantic Records.” That’s my debut album. I’m really proud of the music, but I’m proud of the business structure also. That ain’t easy. That ain’t an easy thing to negotiate as an artist.

You could have taken that label route. I remember Rick Ross was looking at you heavy, and he wanted you on Maybach so hard. Though you never signed, do you ever ponder if that Maybach situation could have been something special for your career?

I’m MMG still. That’s in my heart. I’m honorary MMG. I rep Rozay shit and I believe in that brand. I think Rozay’s a genius, and I think he’s one of the most prolific artists in this generation. I rep MMG like it's my shit, like I rep All Money In.

Let’s rewind back to 2013 and your song “The Outro," where you rapped: “Peace to the city n---a I'm the hottest/ Even if the OGs don't acknowledge it.” When you walk around Cali today, in contrast to five years ago, do you feel like you finally earned that respect from the OGs, whether it's from music or what you did for the community?

At that time, I was speaking to not being embraced. Not that they owe me that, but I felt at that time in my perspective, to not embrace it was intentional -- because you can't ignore what I'm doing. I was speaking to that reality. Overall, man, I realized it ain't about nobody acknowledging you. It's about working with what you got and executing the greatness. In hindsight, nobody owed me nothing.

On that same song, you kind of spoke things into the universe, when you rapped, “When I drop an album, they’ll be proud to pay" -- which sparked your #Proud2Pay campaign. Are you surprised with how successful the idea became over the years?

I'm surprised to a degree, but I believed in it. I was inspired by a radical concept translating into reality.

Continue reading Nipsey's interview at Billboard.

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J. Prince Gets YBN Almighty Jay’s Stolen Rap-A-Lot-Records Chain Back

YBN Almighty Jay can thank J. Prince for stepping in to get his stolen chain back. The Rap-A-Lot Records boss secured the return of the jewelry days after his teenage protégé was beaten and robbed in New York City.

French Montana, and rapper Hocus 45th, met with Prince in Los Angeles on Monday (March 18) night to return the chain, and accompanying pendant. French played middleman to get J. Prince and Hocus 45th in the same room, TMZ reports.

J Prince shared a photo from the meeting on Instagram. “Real recognizes real in every hood and has a way of connecting in spite of clowns and squares,” he captioned the post. “The homies from the Bronx, KT, @hocus45th and @frenchmontana kept it real with me and my son @jprincejr.”

The Houston native added that French and Hocus are officially welcomed into his #MobTies movement, and that he looks forward to “doing business in the future together.”

Peep the full post below.

 

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Real recognizes real in every hood and has a way of connecting in spite of clowns and squares. - - The homies from the Bronx, KT, @hocus45th and @frenchmontana kept it real with me and my son @jprincejr - - Tho it was never about the chain, it was about the name that was built off of blood sweat and tears. - - I welcome these brothers to our #MobTies movement and look forward to us doing business in the future together. - - There’s power in numbers and when strong brothers from the streets align themselves with one another, suckas tremble. So I can only imagine how some of you are feeling right now! - - I’ve invited these homies to #htown for @jprincejr birthday celebration March 28-31, 2019 and I look forward to coming to the Bronx soon. - - The big picture here is the same as I stated in my first post, to not allow moment thinkers to muddy the waters over the movement. - - To @ybnalmightyjay I’ll be returning your jewelry soon Lil homie. - - To be continued... #TheArtAndScienceOfRespect

A post shared by J Prince (@jprincerespect) on Mar 19, 2019 at 10:16am PDT

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8-Year-Old Nigerian Chess Champion's Big Win Helps His Family Out Of Homelessness

An 8-year-old Nigerian chess prodigy is helping his family out of homelessness. Tanitoluwa “ Tani” Adewumi, won the New York State Scholastic Chess Championship last week, beating out more than 70 of the state’s top young chess players, all while living in a homeless shelter.

Tani, who was recently profiled in the New York Times, and his family fled Nigeria in 2017, reportedly out of fear of being targeted by Boko Haram. The family applied for asylum, and have since been living in a New York shelter.

The third grader learned to play chess a year ago at his elementary school, P.S. 116. Tani’s coach, Russell Makofsky marveled at his ability to learn chess so quickly. "His intellect, his aptitude, his capacity to learn chess is off the charts,” Makofsky said. “From not playing to beating the best of the best in one year is unheard of, all while living in a homeless shelter.”

Tani has been getting a lot of attention for his big win. A GoFundMe page launched on March 15 with a goal of raising $50,000 to help Tani’s family “secure a home where he can continue his journey,” has raised more than $182,000. An attorney has also agreed to work on the family’s asylum case for free, CBS News reports.

The family now plans to move into an apartment, and posted an update on the GoFundMe page Tuesday (March 19) sharing their gratitude for the donations, Tani’s chess coach, and the media for publicizing the story. “Our big shout out to the whole WORLD for all your support financially, morally, spiritually and many more can't [be] mentioned. You are all awesome. God bless you all.”

According to the post, proceeds from the crowdfunding effort will be donated to a new foundation that the family will be starting in Tani's name.

See more on his story below.

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Janelle Monae, Lil Wayne To Perform At Lollapalooza 2019

Janelle Monae, Lil Wayne, Team Imapala, Slash, and J. Balvin are among the artists who will be taking the stage for Lollapalooza 2019, festival organizers revealed Tuesday (March 19).

Lolla's partial performance list was unveiled in a nearly 14:00-minute interactive video featuring dogs up for adoption at PAWS Chicago. The pups move around in a makeshift playpen filled with plastic balls that reveal the images of the acts billed to perform at this year’s festival. The list also includes, Lil Baby and his “Close Friends” collaborator, Gunna, along with Lil Skies, French artist Madeon, Spanish singer ROSALÍA, electronic act Yaeji, and Australian dance group Rufus Du Sol.

Lollapalooza returns to Chicago’s Grant Park Aug. 1-4. It’s unclear when the full list of performers will be announced. As for tickets, 4-day general admission passes are on sale for $360 a pop, while VIP tickets will run music fans $2,200. One-day general admission passes haven't gone on sale yet but will cost $130 each, and a single-day VIP ticket comes with a $650 price tag.

Click here for ticketing info. Watch video of the lineup unveil below.

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