Nipsey Hussle’s appearance on DJ Khaled’s latest album Father of Ashad is a clear standout and a reminder to the super producer of the late rapper’s special influence.
Khaled spoke with MTV’s Sway Calloway about how the track “Higher” which also features chilling vocals from John Legend came together. “Higher” is Hussle’s first posthumous feature and one of the final music videos he shot before his death. Khaled says the two were deep in cloth talk when he asked the rapper to be apart of his album.
“I’ve known him for a long time but I asked him where he was from and we started talking about our kids, then we started talking about entrepreneurship, leadership and just really talking real life,” he said Friday (May 17) in New York for MTV’s Khaled-Con special. “When he would speak, I would be speechless. It amazed me because he was such a beautiful person with a beautiful soul and he was always looking out and I love that.”
After speaking about Hussle’s family ties, he urged the rapper to channel it all into his verses for the album. “I was sharing how Nas, Jay-Z, Biggie and Scarface and like a [Rick] Ross would talk about where they come from,” he recalled. “Nas would touch on pyramids, etc. and you feel it and you see it when you hear it from the big boy icon rappers that are legends like a Snoop Dogg or a Dr. Dre. You hear it and you feel it, the songs. Everybody knows Nipsey is a great rapper but I told him, ‘I see where you’re going.'”
With the album being 90 percent completed at the time, Khaled played the project for Hussle in hopes of getting him on “Higher.”
“I played him the album because I explained to him that I’m treating every song like it’s the one,” he said. “That’s the only way to make a classic album. I played him the beat for “Higher” and he was vibing. I [saw] him taking it in and I told him, ‘Your voice will cut through this sample easy, it’s like gospel,’ and I told him I had a hook idea and he said, ‘Don’t play the hook yet’ and I thought, ‘Oh he’s special.’ He was already writing in his head.”
After hearing Nip’s first verse, Khaled was inclined to make the song without any other features. After they completed the song, they filmed the video in Hussle’s hometown. Four days later, he was shot and killed by suspect Eric Holder.
“When I got the second verse, I sent him a piece of Legend’s vocals to surprise him. The beautiful thing about the record was that we both were excited about it and shared how special it was, everyone on his team loved it. So now, we shoot the video. We were on this rooftop in Crenshaw, where he’s from. It was just so beautiful so we shot the video and then like four days later…the whole world cried.”
Khaled also shared how emotional the video has been for fans and himself. “He’s a prophet, he’s a king, he’s a father, he’s beautiful. When I watch the video, I cried so many times already,” he said. “When people play the video, they cry and have the same reaction, it’s so beautiful. The marathon continues and long live Nipsey Hussle. It was a blessing for me to work with him. I thank God that I got to work with him and for his fans to hear the music.”
Watch Khaled Con below.