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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

The late activist and rapper's lyrics charted his growth as a rapper and a person.

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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10 Most Memorable Episodes Of 'The Wayans Bros.'

If you're a product of hip-hop, the '90s was a glorious time for television, with a plethora of shows being introduced to the public that helped inform and reflect the culture, from music to fashion and every aspect in between. One program that embodied the raw essence of hip-hop was The Wayans Bros., which made its debut as the first sitcom to air on the newly launched network, The WB, on January 11, 1995. Created by Marlon and Shawn Wayans, Leslie Ray, and David Steven Simon, The Wayans Bros. put the focus on the two youngest brothers in the Wayans clan, both of whom had tasted fame alongside their elder brothers when their appearances on In Living Color and in films like Mo’ Money putting them on the radar. Set in Harlem, the show revolves around the Williams brothers' ill-advised attempts at turning a quick buck, maintaining their romantic relationships, helping out their father, Pops Williams (John Witherspoon), and assisting friends and family in their own times of need.

While Lela Rochon (Lisa Saunders), Paula Jai Parker (Monique), and Jill Tasker (Lou Malino) were all main cast members at some point during the show's first two seasons, the core cast was comprised of both Wayans brothers, Witherspoon, and Anna Maria Horsford as Deirdre "Dee" Baxter, the latter of whom made her debut appearance midway through the show's second season. Recurring characters included Thelonious "T.C." Capricornio (played by Phil Lewis), White Mike (Mitch Mullany), Dupree (Jermaine 'Huggy' Hopkins), and Grandma Ellington (Ja'net Dubois), all of who left their own imprint and were instrumental in some of the show's most memorable moments. In addition to the core cast, The Wayans Bros. also presented additional star power in the form of cameos, with athletes (John Starks, Kenny Lofton, Hector Camacho) actors (Bernie Mac, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Elise Neal, Shari Headley, Gary Coleman, Pam Grier, Antonio Fargas, Monica Calhoun, Garrett Morris, Garcelle Beauvais, Richard Roundtree, etc) and musicians (Busta Rhymes, Keith Sweat, En Vogue, Missy Elliott, Paula Abdul) all appearing on the show, as well.

The Wayans Bros. show's run would be cut short after five seasons, with its final episode airing on May 20, 1999, marking the end of an era. However, the show has continued to entertain a new generation of viewers through syndication and is one of the definitive television shows from the '90s that spoke to and for the culture. In celebration of the show's 25th anniversary, VIBE looks back at ten of the most hilarious and entertaining episodes of The Wayans Bros. Show that made it one of the most beloved sitcoms of the hip-hop generation.

Season 1, Episode 1 "Goop-Hair-It-Is"

Our introduction to the zany hijinks of The Wayans Bros. came via the show's pilot episode, which found Shawn and Marlon attempting to cash in on a half-baked foray into the world of cosmetics. After accepting a proposition to become the manufacturers of a new hair product called Goop, Hair It Is, Marlon creates a homemade concoction that appears to work wonders for his follicles, prompting Shawn to create a scheme to sell it via an infomercial. Enlisting the help of Gary Coleman, the brothers and their new pitch man go live on air to wax poetic about the goop, but their presentation goes awry when Coleman's new hairdo goes ablaze, resulting in an impromptu fire drill that gives "Stop, Drop & Roll" a whole new meaning.

Season 2, Episode 4 "Two Men and a Baby"

Brotherhood may be second nature to Shawn and Marlon, but fatherhood is a whole different story, which we find out during the course of this classic from the show's second season. After discovering an abandoned baby that's supposedly Shawn or Marlon's kin outside of the front door of their apartment, the bros get into a heated rivalry over who's the biological father of the child. With little background information other than a note from the child's mother to go off of, the Williams' take matters into their own hands, stepping up to the plate to provide a nurturing environment for the newest member of the clan. The responsibility of parental duties prove to be too much for either brother to handle on their own, but they’re bailed out when the mother returns to recover the child after realizing a mix-up in her delivery process.

Season 2, Episode 5 "Loot"

The fortunes of the Williams family are on the brink of changing for the better after Shawn, Marlon, Pops and the rest of the gang discover a garbage bag filled with $100,000 in cash. A police report is filed, but the Williams' keep their fingers crossed that they'll be deemed the rightful owners of the money when the goes unclaimed. This doesn't stop the members of the family from counting their chickens before they hatch, as extravagant plans and pricey purchases are made in the ensuing days. Greed nearly causes the Williams' to turn on one another, but when an elderly woman shows up to recover her belongings, their dreams at a come-up are quickly dashed, putting the family back at square one.

Season 2, Episode 8 "Head of State"

During the second season of The Wayans Bros., Dee Baxter (Anna Maria Horsford) replaces Lou (Jill Tasker) as the Neidemeyer Building's security guard for the remainder of the series. When the President of the United States comes to Harlem during his campaign trail, Pops' Diner is designated as the location where the prez can relieve himself, which the family considers an honor. With Pops eager to reap the benefits of having the leader of the free world pass through his establishment, and Marlon determined to shake the President's hand, the visit is a pretty big deal to the family However, the Williams' world is flipped upside down when the Secret Service lock down the diner due to safety concerns, infringing on their privacy. In the end, Pops' gets an uptick in business, Marlon gets to shake the President's hand, and Dee gets to experience a bit of sexual tension in her debut appearance.

Season 3, Episode 1 "Grandma's in the Hiz-House"

When Grandma Ellington (Ja'net Dubois) stops in town, Shawn and Marlon are ecstatic to see the family matriarch, even making room for her to stay in their apartment. The decision is one that the brothers will quickly regret, as Grandma Ellington begins to infiltrate their life, from ruining their clothing to chasing away their dates. Shawn and Marlon decide to make things uncomfortable in hopes that she will leave, but the plan backfires, with Grandma Ellington’s discovery of the ruse putting a wedge between her and her grandsons. Realizing the error in their ways, the brothers attempt to win their grandmother back over and get back in her good graces.

Season 3, Episode 9 "The Return of the Temptones"

Pops gets a blast from the past when Shawn and Marlon decide to round up the members of his old group The Temptones for an epic reunion after thirty years. While the gesture is well-intended, things fall apart when the members let bad blood get into the mix, which puts The Temptones' upcoming performance in jeopardy. As Pops and the crew struggle to find common ground, Shawn and Marlon stand-in for the missing members, resulting in a hilariously horrendous rendition of The Temptones' hit, "Bang, Bang Bang." However, the original members of the group decide to put their differences to the side for the sake of the group's legacy, tearing down the stage in one of the more memorable moments in The Wayans Bros. history.

Season 4, Episode 9 "Can I Get a Witness?"

After finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, Marlon becomes an eyewitness to a bank robbery and identifies the criminal in a police line-up. This results in the Williams' being put in protective custody until the case is resolved, but when word gets out that the culprit's brother is on the hunt for them, it appears as if they cannot avoid meeting their eventual fate. However, the criminals' thirst for vengeance gets thwarted just in the nick of time, keeping Marlon, Shawn and Pops in the clear and out of danger.

Season 4, Episode 19 "Talk is Cheap"

Shawn and Marlon are summoned to The Jerry Springer Show to see just how close their relationship is, which leads to a few secrets between the two being revealed. When Marlon finds out that Shawn had paid his girlfriend a visit at her apartment, the two begin to bicker with one another in front of the studio audience, with Pops and Dee getting involved from the comfort of the crowd. As things get heated between the two, the bros resort to throwing blows, hurling insults and embarrassing one another. While the pair eventually come to their senses and patch things up, their dust-up and Jerry Springer's appearance made for classic television.

Season 5, Episode 7 "The Kiss"

Dee Baxter catches up with old friend Missy Elliott, who gives her a pair of tickets to her concert later that night. Deciding to take Shawn as a guest, the two enjoy one another's company to the point that they wind up kissing after a long night of drinking before passing out. Waking up half-naked and in the same bed with one another, it appears as if the two had slept together, making for a string of awkward encounters between the two. However, the potential lovebirds discover that they were victims of a prank by Marlon, which brings Shawn and Dee's friendship back to normal.

Season 5, Episode 18 "Hip Hop Pops"

Shawn and Marlon gather Pops' closest friends and throw him a surprise party to celebrate his 50th birthday. However, while the brothers' efforts were meant to put Pops in good spirits, they actually put him in a depressive and reflective state due to his age and fear of death. Looking to infuse a little fun into their father's life, Shawn and Marlon takes Pops out to the club to help make him feel young again, but the experience inspires Pops to change his wardrobe and slang in an attempt to hold onto his youth. From engaging in freestyle battles to donning iced-out chains, Pops' new style rubs Shawn and Marlon the wrong way, forcing them to cook up a plan to get him to revert back to the man they used to know.

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President Donald Trump holds up a memorandum that reinstates sanctions on Iran.
Chip Somodevilla

Everything You Need To Know About Tensions Between Iran And The U.S.

Tension between the U.S. and Iran came to a head on Friday (Jan. 3) after a U.S. drone killed the head of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militia organization, Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

The strain between Iran and the U.S. date back to the 1953 overthrow of Iran's Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, and has been ongoing, which resulted in Americans being held hostage at the U.S Embassy for 444 days by Tehran protestors.

In 2013, shortly after Iran's President Hassan Rouhani took office, former President Barack Obama extended an olive branch to Iran. After 30 years of tension, Iran and the U.S. agreed to have diplomatic relations with a long-term nuclear program. However, in 2018, President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal and reinstated sanctions against Iran, including countries that trade with the Western Asia country.

Over the past few months, the tension between Iran and the U.S. continued to escalate. Below is a timeline of events leading to the death of Qassem Soleimani.

BREAKING: Pentagon statement from Defense Secretary @EsperDoD on strike against #Iran’s Soleimani in #Iraq pic.twitter.com/YAuLlkid01

— Tara Copp (@TaraCopp) January 3, 2020

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Saudi Arabia Oil Attack In September 2019, an oil facility in Saudi Arabia was attacked. Houthi rebels took responsibility for the charge while threatening more onslaught if the country fails to lift its blockade on Yemen.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attack, and Trump instigated the situation by saying that the U.S. was "locked and loaded” and ready to respond with possible military action.

Saudi investigators said the weapons used in the attack came from Iran, but it remains unclear on where the weapons were launched from.

Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019

Iran and U.S. Spies The attacks on the Saudi oil facility came shortly after Iran arrested 17 spies, who were allegedly recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

According to several news reports, spies had been taken into custody, sentencing some to death. Trump, and Pompeo (a former CIA director), said Iran’s claims were false.

The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2019

The Launch Of Airstrikes Iraqi leaders claimed that the U.S. violated Iraqi sovereignty by killing 24 people in retaliation for the death of an American contractor. The airstrikes also wounded 50 people in addition to the 24 people killed.

The U.S. said the strikes were a response to the more than 30 rockets launched against an Iraqi military base, killing one American and wounding four others.

“In response to repeated Kata'ib Hizbollah attacks on Iraqi bases that host @CJTFOIR forces, U.S. forces conducted precision defensive strikes against 5 KH facilities in Iraq & Syria [to] degrade KH's ability to conduct future attacks against @coalition forces.” [email protected] pic.twitter.com/g2hmTD4Eqw

— OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) December 29, 2019

 

 

March on U.S. Embassy The airstrike came after Pro-Iranian militia members marched on the U.S. Embassy, holding American diplomats hostage for more than 24 hours. President Trump blamed Iran for the protest. The statement also said that "General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”

"At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization," the statement reads.

Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019

Iraqis — Iraqis — dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General Soleimani is no more. pic.twitter.com/huFcae3ap4

— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 3, 2020

The Killing of Qassem Soleimani An American drone hit two cars carrying Qassem Suleimani and other officials backed by Iranian militias as they were leaving the Baghdad International Airport.

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed Soleimani's death in a statement by calling the murder "decisive defensive action." Trump tweeted a picture of the American flag, insinuating a victory for America.

pic.twitter.com/VXeKiVzpTf

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020

 

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25 Best Music Videos Of 2019

As major networks continue to phase out the practice of airing music videos, visuals for some of our favorite songs have found a platform through the internet. Just like last year, music videos this year have pushed the limits on how creative these artists can get. From the comedic relief in DaBaby’s “Pony” and “Suge” videos to the emotional weight in videos from Joyner Lucas (“Devil’s Work”) and IDK (“Digital”), there’s a little bit of something for everybody to take away from these clips.

Music videos are a gold mine for artists to team up with other creatives and bring to life the music they’ve worked so hard on. When an artist and director are able to perfectly intertwine their ideas and skills together, the end result is magical. The videos in 2018 proved that point but those in 2019 may give last year’s selection a run for its money.

VIBE takes a look at the videos released this year and compiles a list of the best and brightest visuals. These videos were selected for their vivid themes, breathtaking scenery and vibrant set-pieces which helped bring viewers into the world these artists and directors created. Take a look at the 25 best music videos of 2019.

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