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Nipsey Hussle performs onstage at the STAPLES Center Concert Sponsored by SPRITE during the 2018 BET Experience on June 23, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ser Baffo/Getty Images for BET)

The Marathon Continues: Nipsey Hussle's 10 Best Songs

On March 31, the world mourned the loss of rapper, activist and community leader Nipsey Hussle (born Ermias Asghedom), who was gunned down by 29-year-old Eric Holder following a dispute in front of his Marathon Clothing store on Slauson Avenue. Hussle was born August 15, 1985, in Crenshaw, Calif. and was 33 at the time of his death. In the wake of his murder, fans, supporters and even his detractors reflected on the rapper’s complex legacy. As an artist, Hussle was an undeniable force whose at times divisive politics, proud first-generation identity, and desire to uplift black people globally was actively crystalizing - both through music and grassroots community efforts - into viable structures for positive change.

Not only was Hussle coming off of a well-deserved Grammy-nomination for 2018’s Victory Lap, but he was also in the process of revitalizing a country-wide vision of a black enterprise that had roots on his beloved Slauson Avenue. Working with private equity investor David Gross, Hussle was quietly buying back his neighborhood while simultaneously developing the blueprint for a self-sustained community that would not be ravaged by the typical outcomes of gentrification, which often results in the displacement of the socioeconomically disadvantaged. Instead, Hussle was creating the change he wanted to see, developing affordable housing and a STEM center for the neighborhood’s youth. He even had plans to open an inner-city coworking space where young creatives of color could connect.

From sobering reflections on his proximity to death and violence on his first mixtape, Slauson Boy Vol. 1, where he first introduced himself as “Neighborhood Nip,” to the era of Bullets Ain’t Got No Name mixtape trilogy, all the way through the release of Victory Lap - his first and only major commercial release - Hussle’s music is a testament to the arc of his life, as well as the personal awakenings that came with his journey. Here are some of his most resonant songs.

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1. “Blue Laces” (2010)

They think we on some kill another n***a s**t / We really on some stay down and diligent / The streets is cold, turn innocence to militance / Young n****s gangbangin' for the thrill of it / Pops was gone, moms was never home /The streets was right there so they took you as they own.

Although Nipsey’s music frequently reflects on inequity - much of “Blue Laces” does just this - the lyrics are bolstered by an innate sense of pride. Yes, he addresses the cyclical nature of violence, and how it creates outside perceptions that demonize young black men, but in Nipsey’s hands, they are humanized...as they deserve to be.

2. “Blue Laces 2” (2018)

I wonder what it come to you in your brain for you to run to / Ones that hate us, handcuff us and mace us / Call us dumb n****s 'cause our culture is contagious / Third generation, South Central gangbangers / That lived long enough to see it changing / Think it's time we make arrangements, finally wiggle out they mazes / Find me out in different places / I'm the spook by the door, this the infiltration.

A follow-up to 2010’s equally definitive “Blue Laces,” this sprawling sequel displays Nipsey’s unique ability to proselytize to people and communities that have been historically devalued, reminding them not only of their humanity but their very real ability to impact change.

3. “Crenshaw & Slauson (True Story)” (2018)

There are really too many good bars to choose tbh.

In this three-part saga, Nipsey’s affinity for storytelling is elevated to an art. The narrative is a deeply personal one that details his ascension in rap music starting from the moment he decided to “cut out the middleman” as an 18-year-old neophyte, to the sacrifices required to gain a foothold as an independent artist. In the same way, Nas revealed a new level of introspection and lyrical artistry by personifying a bullet in “I Gave You Power,” so too does Nipsey on “Crenshaw & Slauson,” which feels like a journey into the interior of an at times guarded artist.

4. Childish Gambino, “Black Faces” featuring Nipsey Hussle (2012)

Look, young rich nigga s***, pops was an immigrant / Lifestyle ill legit, but I know I own business / Started out the trunk, ended up at the dealership / All gold Rollie, black face no blemishes / Legend in my city ‘cause I grind so vigorous.

Hussle’s fiery feature on Donald Glover’s surprise sixth mixtape Royalty was something of a happy coincidence, one that started on Twitter and snowballed. After the rapper shared that he was a fan of Glover’s 2011 project, Camp, the duo hit the studio and cooked up "Black Faces," an unapologetic celebration of black resilience and entrepreneurship. The rapper’s reflections on the nature of his empire, which began in the streets and metamorphosed into legal businesses, also highlights his family’s immigrant experience, reinforcing the importance his Eritrean identity played in his life and music.

5. “Racks in the Middle” (featuring Roddy Ricch & Hit-Boy) (2019)

Teaming up with Compton rapper Roddy Ricch, Nipsey delivers braggadocious bars that reflect on the nature of success and the material goods that come with it. Following a Grammy nomination and critically-acclaimed album, it’s a well-deserved flex. And as Nipsey’s last release of his life, it is certainly fitting to include.

6. YG, “F**k Donald Trump” featuring Nipsey Hussle (2016)

Look, Reagan sold coke, Obama sold hope / Donald Trump spent his trust fund money on the vote / I'm from a place where you prolly can't go / Speakin' for some people that you prolly ain't know / It's pressure built up and it's prolly gon' blow / And if we say go then they're prolly gon' go.

Politics and rap have been deeply intertwined since the birth of hip-hop, which was conceived as an innately political statement. In the face of one of the most divisive elections of our time, YG and Nipsey Hussle, though affiliated with opposing sets, mobilized to send a strong message refuting the inflammatory rhetoric of Donald Trump. Hussle in particular unpacks America’s long and crooked political history, espousing Reagan-era conspiracy theories with the same ease he that he reflects on his childhood in Crenshaw.

7. “Dedication” featuring Kendrick Lamar (2018)

Young black n***a trapped and he can’t change it / Know he a genius, he just can’t claim it / ‘Cause they left him no platforms to explain it / He frustrated so he get faded / But deep down inside he know you can’t fade him / How long should I stay dedicated?

While the Kendrick Lamar assist certainly enriches “Dedication,” Nipsey’s signature cadence delivered over a Mike N Keys-produced beat embodies the core of his rap ethos. His ability to verbalize the internalized struggles of being a black male in America without succumbing to a sense of hopelessness is as rare as it is precious.

8. “Sound of My Ceremony” (2012)

I ain't got a boss, I am not a slave / Turnin' up my hustle is how I give myself a raise / And it's funny how people let money make 'em change / See you stickin' to the script then start rippin' out the pages of history, it ain't a mystery / If I died yesterday, my life would be a victory

Although “Sound of My Ceremony” ultimately didn’t make it onto The Marathon Continues, Hussle went on to add it to The Marathon Continues: X-Tra Laps. Much in the same way singles like “Hussle & Motivate” balance gritty realities with hope and dignity, so too does this song. Not only does Nipsey frame himself as royalty, but in one verse in particular he describes his life as a victory, which feels almost prophetic.

9. "Hussle in the House" (2009)

Look, I'm comin straight off of Slauson / A crazy motherf**ker named Nipsey / I'm turnt up cause I grew up in the 60s / Caution to you rap n****s try and diss me / I go hard that's why yo' b***h wanna flip me.

Not only does Nipsey pay homage to NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton” in the song’s opening line, but he also interpolates Snoop Dogg’s “G Funk” intro and serves it all up with a sample of “Jump” by Kriss Kross. The bars are true Nipsey Hussle form - a litany of “guns, money and b***hes” as Hussle goes on to say in a later verse - but there’s still a playfulness that makes it a solid palate cleanser for some of A Bullet Ain’t Got No Name Vol. 2’s more heavy offerings.

10. “Hussle & Motivate” (2018)

Judge a young n***a by they address / Left us no option, what they expect? / Only thing we knew for sure was to bang the set / F**k livin' basic, I'm takin' risks.

F**k what they sayin', I'm sayin' this / Don't waste your time, it don't make you rich / It don't mean nothin' so f**k 'em, let's make a grip / Double up, triple up, make assist / Ballin' so hard, you could play your bench /Lead to the lake, if they wanna fish.

Sampling from Jay-Z's “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” Nipsey reflects on the sacrifices, setbacks and victories that ultimately brought him success. As it were, the song isn’t a boisterous celebratory lap (although it appears on the Victory Lap album), but rather a sermon of sorts; a love letter to the young men and women of his community and beyond.

Here, Nipsey takes aim at the hypocrisy inherent in the glamorization of street life while the very same communities are actively disenfranchised, effectively causing the cycles of violence they are often accused of perpetuating. More important, he looks beyond this reality, offering motivation, and a blueprint for transcending circumstance.

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Issa Vibe: The Best Songs To Fit Your Different 4/20 Sessions

April 20th isn’t a national holiday, but it might as well be.

Although recreational marijuana use is only legal in 10 states, the U.S. is home to approximately 35 million regular users of cannabis, according to a survey done by Yahoo News and Marist University. That's 10.6 percent of the American population and while that may seem minuscule, the numbers are growing daily and it's understandable.

Weed has now become a staple of American culture; it's become a legitimate business in the states where it's legal, it's now part of the way people socialize, and better yet it's a theme in some of the hottest music out today. "Kush" has been included in some of the hardest verses that millennials and generation-z kids have heard in their lifetime.

Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, amazing emcees in their own right, are also widely known for their love of the green plant. Wiz's biggest album, Rolling Papers is clearly influenced by weed and along with the Snoop Dogg-assisted "Young, Wild & Free" is all about that green positivity.

There's an endless list of hits about rolling up a joint, hitting it and passing it, but what about moods? Whether it's a bowl, a blunt or an edible weed, can leave people feeling a variety of ways and that all can be traced to a certain strand of weed someone's inhaling, or the mood they're already.

Regardless, it's important to be prepared and have music ready to match whatever feelings marijuana concocts; and that's why VIBE compiled an adequate list of songs for each of the main pot moods.

So on this 4/20, sit back, relax, smoke and find the songs that suit the vibe.

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The "Let Me Chill Out" Mood 

Sometimes the best way to come down from an over the top high is to play some tunes with a soft beat and a light voice. The best artists in the game right now, like Jhené Aiko for instance, have created that sound that's perfect for when relaxation is needed, so of course, she made the list.  These are the top four songs that can help anyone kick back and relax if a pull from a joint just isn't hitting the right way.

"Blue Dream" by Jhené Aiko "Muse" by Afro Nostalgia "Summer Games" by Drake "LOVE." by Kendrick Lamar (feat. Zacari) The Bad B*tch Hours or "Top Two and I'm Not Two" Mood 

You look around the room and realize: you're top two and you're not two in it. All it took was one or a couple of puffs and then a pass to make you feel pretty good about yourself. One of the main upsides to smoking that's constantly mentioned in the media is that it can help alleviate chronic pain, well, another positive to it is that it can leave you feeling sexy, sensual and everything in between.

This is that high that can make you feel that you're significant other is lucky to have you, and subsequently makes you hit them up, that tells you: you're single and ready to mingle. It's a smoking session that lets you know: if you shoot your shot now, you'll score and it's a session that you want music playing that only affirms how sultry and seductive you feel. If this is how 4/20 leaves you feeling, putting on some RiRi or even Young Thug can effectively get you 'in your bag.'

"Same Ol' Mistakes" by Rihanna "Tyrant" by Kali Uchis (feat. Jorja Smith) "Worth It" by Young Thug "Smoke Break" by Chance the Rapper (feat. Future) The "Head in the Clouds" Mood 

More often than not, edibles have the power of leaving people spaced out and speaking slowly, after consuming them. Sometimes smoking weed, or hotboxing with friends is a silent event. Either everyone's consumed by their phones, or every other person has been looking at a nonexistent spot on the wall for the past 15 minutes.

Regardless this isn't the high where people want to hear "Act Up" by City Girls, no matter how much they love them. No, this is the high where people need music that takes them on a journey. Songs where the production is out of this world and it seems like the artist specifically made the song for a smoke session like no other. Travis Scott's ASTROWORLD is full of tracks with that vibe, and Lil' Wayne, a weed connoisseur of his own, has songs that fulfill that need too. Smoke a bit and let the weed do its thing.

"ASTROTHUNDER" by Travis Scott "I Feel Like Dying" by Lil' Wayne "Hyyer" by Kid Cudi "St. Tropez" by J. Cole The "Got the Giggles" Mood 

This is when the blunt hits perfectly and there's nothing wrong in the world or when the bowl did its' job and leaves everyone feeling silly. A "feel good high" is the best way to describe and the best way to live through that kind of smoke session is to listen to some "feel good music." These are the songs that can have people swaying unknowingly to its' beat, or the tracks that leave people smiling from ear to ear. This is the session that lets people know that "this is it chief," and here are the best songs to go along with it.

"Pass the Vibes" by Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment "Dreamcatcher" by Metro Boomin' (feat. Swae Lee & Travis Scott) "It's a Vibe" by 2 Chainz (feat. Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz & Jhené Aiko) "Binz" by Solange
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Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are thebomb.com for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

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Beyoncé performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California.
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Homecoming: The 5 Best Moments Of Beyoncé’s Documentary

Once Beyoncé became the first African-American woman to headline in its nearly 20-year history, we knew Coachella would never the same. To mark the superstar’s historic moment, the 2018 music and arts festival was appropriately dubbed #Beychella and fans went into a frenzy on social media as her illustrious performance was live-streamed by thousands. (Remember when fans recreated her choreographed number to O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad”?)

With a legion of dancers, singers and musicians adorned with gorgeous costumes showcasing custom-made crests, the singer’s whirlwind performance honored black Greek letter organizations, Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and paid homage to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Aside from the essence of black musical subgenres like Houston’s chopped and screwed and Washington D.C.’s go-go music, the entertainer performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Black National Anthem,” and implemented a dancehall number, sampling the legendary Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, to show off the versatility of black culture.

One year after #Beychella’s historic set, the insightful concert film, Homecoming, began streaming on Netflix and unveiled the rigorous months of planning that went into the iconic event. The 2-hour 17-minute documentary highlights Beyoncé’s enviable work ethic and dedication to her craft, proving why this performance will be cemented in popular culture forever. Here are the best moments from Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary.

The Intentional Blackness

“Instead of me bringing out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.”

Throughout the documentary, Beyoncé made it known that everything and everyone included in the creative process leading up to the annual festival was deliberately chosen. “I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid,” says Beyoncé. “Every tiny detail had an intention.” When speaking on black people as a collective the entertainer notes, “The swag is limitless.” Perhaps the most beautiful moments in Homecoming are the shots that focus on the uniqueness of black hair and its versatility. What’s appreciated above all is the singer’s commitment to celebrating the various facets of blackness and detailing why black culture needs to be celebrated on a global scale.

Beyoncé’s Love And Respect For HBCUs

#Beychella — which spanned two consecutive weekends of Coachella’s annual festival — was inspired by elements of HBCU homecomings, so it was no surprise when the singer revealed she always wanted to attend one. “I grew up in Houston, Texas visiting Prairie View. We rehearsed at TSU [Texas Southern University] for many years in Third Ward, and I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher.” Brief vignettes in the film showcased marching bands, drumlines and the majorettes from notable HBCUs that comprise of the black homecoming experience. In the concert flick, one of the dancers affectionately states, “Homecoming for an HBCU is the Super Bowl. It is the Coachella.” However, beyond the outfits that sport a direct resemblance to Greek organizations, Beyoncé communicated an important message that remains a focal point in the film: “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”

The Familiar Faces

Despite being joined by hundreds of dancers, musicians and singers on-stage, the entertainer was joined by some familiar faces to share the monumental moment with her. While making a minor appearance in the documentary, her husband and rapper/mogul Jay-Z came out to perform “Deja Vu” with his wife. Next, fans were blessed by the best trio to ever do it as Kelly and Michelle joined the singer with renditions of their hit singles including “Say My Name,” “Soldier,” and more. On top of this star-studded list, Solange Knowles graced the “Beychella” stage and playfully danced with her older sister to the infectious “Get Me Bodied.”

Her Balance Of Being A Mother And A Star

Originally slated to headline the annual festival in 2017, the singer notes that she “got pregnant unexpectedly...and it ended up being twins.” Suffering from preeclampsia, high blood pressure, toxemia and undergoing an emergency C-section, the entertainer candidly details how difficult it was adjusting post-partum and how she had to reconnect with her body after experiencing a traumatizing delivery. “In the beginning, it was so many muscle spasms. Just, internally, my body was not connected. My body was not there.” Rehearsing for a total of 8 months, the singer sacrificed quality time with her children in order to nail the technical elements that came with the preparation for her Coachella set. “I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol … and I’m hungry.” Somehow, throughout all of this, she still had to be a mom. “My mind wanted to be with my children,” she says. Perhaps one of the most admirable moments in the film was witnessing Beyoncé’s dedication to her family but also to her craft.

The Wise Words From Black Visionaries

Homecoming opens with a quote from the late, Maya Angelou stating, “If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.” The film includes rich and prophetic quotes from the likes of Alice Walker, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and notable Black thinkers, reaffirming Beyoncé’s decision to highlight black culture. The quotes speak to her womanhood and the entertainer’s undeniable strength as a black woman.

Blue Ivy’s Cuteness

Last, but certainly not least, Blue Ivy‘s appearance in the concert film is nothing short of precious. One of the special moments in the documentary zeroes in on the 7-year-old singing to a group of people whilst Beyoncé sweetly feeds the lyrics into her ears. After finishing, Blue says: “I wanna do that again” with Beyoncé replying with “You wanna be like mommy, huh?” Seen throughout Homecoming rehearsing and mirroring Beyoncé’s moves, Blue just might follow in her mother’s footsteps as she gets older.

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