When it comes to potent lyrics, Nipsey Hussle‘s wordplay should be considered alongside rap titans like Jadakiss, Scarface, JAY-Z, and Nas. Gangsta Nip blessed fans with rules and guidelines that steer listeners from life in the streets to corporate America.
Since stepping in the rap game with 2005’s Slauson Boy Volume 1, the entrepreneur remixed the definition of an independent artist (by selling $100 mixtapes), shared his knowledge, and motivated hustlers on every corner of the U.S. by giving them a vision of a better life. This trajectory continued its upward motion on his debut album, Victory Lap.
With the project finally available for fans’ consumption, VIBE handpicked ten of the best motivational rhymes from Gangsta Nip’s official offering. May he rest in peace.
1. “Victory Lap” feat. Stacy Barthe
Lyrics: Spoke some things into the universe and they appeared/I say it’s worth it, I won’t say it’s fair/Find your purpose or you wastin’ air…
The Break Down: Speaking things into existence has been a recurring theme throughout Nipsey’s catalog. For one born into a life of gang-banging, where death, violence, and prison sentences are customary, it takes a commendable type of mental strength to believe in something that seems implausible such as legally becoming a millionaire. Nipsey is doing his part in disrupting the troublesome thinking patterns of generations of gang members.
2. “Rap Ni**as”
Lyrics: We the No Limit of the West, ni**a/Percy Miller at his best, ni**a.
The Break Down: With many rappers of this generation uninformed about legends like The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac, Nipsey builds off the example independent hustler and entrepreneur Master P set. When he was 28 years old, P was awarded a $10,000 malpractice settlement. He opened a record store, a label dubbed No Limit Records and the rest is history. In 2013, the music entity sold nearly 80 million albums and P’s personal bank account housed $350 million.
3. “Last Time That I Checc’d” feat. YG
Lyrics: It was visionary, either I’m genius or you ni**as scary/Maybe it’s both and this balance I deliver daily/For every ni**a in the streets tryna feed the babies/The single mama’s workin’ hard not to miss a payment/And dirty money get washed on royalty statements/Black owners in this game of powerful racists/Young ni**as in the set that’s doin’ it makeshift/Out the garage is how you end up in charge/It’s how you end up in penthouses, end up in cars/It’s how you start off a curb server, end up a boss/it’s how you win the whole thing and lift up a cigar/With sweat drippin’ down your face ’cause the mission was hard…
The Break Down: Taking it a step further than just speaking dreams into existence, Nipsey lays down laws about the tireless hustle needed to transform visions into reality. What’s even more captivating is that Gangsta Nip paints an ugly picture of long nights working toward a dream while in uncomfortable places. Grinding isn’t always a pretty situation.
This verse also encourages black ownership. Influenced by racial discrimination, black home ownership, and black-owned businesses remain at the low end of the spectrum. Even in this space, the All Money In CEO leads by example. Thanks to his label and clothing store, The Marathon, based in the neighborhood that bred him, Nipsey provides jobs to his family and friends.
4. “Young Ni**as” feat. Puff Daddy
Lyrics: Say it’s all uncomfortable when you transition (let’s go)/But it’s all beautiful when you get rich in it (don’t stop)/When you start killin’ s**t (elevatin’) and they all witness it (keep rockin’)/Money grow faster (keep rollin’) than ni**as could spend the s**t (get down)/Open more businesses with you and your ni**as…
The Break Down: We don’t fully understand our weaknesses until we step outside of our comfort zone. Experiencing new places, people, cultures, and attempting new adventures and journeys can expand one’s mental capacity. But before one’s disposition fills out, we have to get past the stage of intimidation, the frustration of being in unfamiliar situations as well as unlearn learned behavior. As Nipsey often says metaphorically, chasing dreams is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay down until the come-up.
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5. “Dedication” feat. Kendrick Lamar
Lyrics: This ain’t entertainment, it’s for ni**as on the slave ship/These songs just the spirituals I swam against them waves with/Ended up on shore to their amazement…
The Break Down: This may be one of the most powerful lines from Victory Lap. For Nipsey, hip-hop is more than entertainment. By connecting today’s generation of MCs to African slaves, Nipsey also covers disenfranchisement and the massive lack of resources resulting from the African Slave Trade. Despite systemic obstacles that black people face, music continues to give hope to, and save black lives.
6. “Blue Laces 2”
Lyrics: Third generation South Central gang bangers/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 [Who Sat] By the Door,” this the infiltration, double back, dressed in blue laces.
The Break Down: Similar to how wealthy families hand down finances to their sons and daughters, whether directly or indirectly, gang bangers pass their flags on to their sons and daughters. With Nipsey opening a business in the very neighborhood that he once committed crimes in, and rapping about saving money, he’s disrupting generations of destructive behavior passed down by OGs and family members.
Nipsey also recognizes Sam Greenlee’s The Spook Who Sat by the Door, a fictional story of Dan Freeman, a black CIA officer who eventually quits his government job as a spy. Freeman returns home to Chicago, where he uses his CIA training to organize street gangs into revolutionary groups.
7. “Hussle and Motivate”
Lyrics: Ain’t really trip on the credit, I just paid all of my dues/I disrespected the game, now my name’s all in the news/Tripping on all of my credit, quote me on this/got a lot more to prove/’Member I came in this bi**h, fresh out the county with nothing to lose.
The Break Down: Being in debt can be a heavy burden to carry. Owing people or companies not only lower ones net worth, but it can affect how productively one chases dreams. The federal government can even seize your funds when in debt. It’s nothing wrong with getting help from people, but Nipsey encourages listeners to work with what they have until they’re able to get more. Saying no to credit is also one of the many lessons that Nipsey’s forefather Master P taught. On Tru’s “What They Call Us,” from their album Tru 2 Da Game, the colonel spewed pieces of this method. One being: “I swore that I’ll never borrow from another ni**a.”
8. “Succa Proof” feat. Konshens and J. Black
Lyrics: F**k a pound, ni**a, f**k a pill/I negotiated a better deal.
The Break Down: Here, Nipsey unapologetically gives a middle finger to the dope game and tells listeners that the music business helps establish long-term wealth than selling drugs.
9. “Million While You Young” feat. The-Dream
Lyrics: Get that dirt up off your shoulder, step yo game up/Can’t be chasin’ pu**y, switch your ways up/Can’t be fu**in’ off your lucci, gotta save up/See you gon’ probably fail tryna play us/Streets ain’t for everybody, get your grades up.
The Break Down: A myth that studious kids from impoverished areas are teased for being smart still persists in today’s society. In fact, troublemakers secretly envy nerds – their futures look promising. Also, OGs look out for young kids with promising futures. With this notion, Nipsey encourages listeners to consider education as a conduit to a better life.
10. “Loaded Bases” feat. CeeLo Green
Lyrics: My dough inflated and I’m more creative/Signed a couple big deals, but it’s no paradin’/See it’s a couple ni**as every generation/That wasn’t supposed to make it out but decode the Matrix/And when they get to speak, it’s like a coded language/Reminds ni**as of they strength and all the stolen greatness/We used to shoot at ni**as at the Mobile station/Full circle, mogul motivation/My self-educated, suit, negotiations/Got these sharks that I’m sittin’ at this table with afraid to bait me/No tint on my Mercedes, that’s for inspiration.
The Break Down: Here, Nipsey speaks on how money enables him to experience adventures outside of L.A., to how it narrows his focus, and how minorities can figure their way out of systematic obstacles like aggressive policing, unfair drug sentencing laws, and poor schools which can hinder forward mobility.
Stream Victory Lap below.