Nipsey Hu$$le took the long journey to get here, but he shows it’s very much a marathon and not a sprint with his very long-awaited and highly-anticipated debut album, Victory Lap, finally being released earlier this year. Showing how his years of hustle and dedication truly paid off in victory to deliver not only arguably the best Hip-Hop album this year, but easily one of the best albums across all of music so far in 2018.
The Crenshaw native showing from the very brassy and conspicuously large score on the Mike & Keys-produced opening title track, you can tell that you’re in for a heavyweight effort that definitely lives up to its Victory Lap title. Whether it’s the very inspiring and motivational lyrics from Neighborhood Nip or the hallowing heavenly vocals of Stacy Barthe or the downshifting keys of Mike & Keys, who handle most of the production on not only the title track, but really throughout the whole album. The longtime collaborators really helping build the great sonic heavyweight masterpiece sound that many of the records have and sound like an actual movie rather than an album. Producing on all but five tracks.
Producers SAP and Amaire Johnson’s great co-production to match the gruff vocals of Nip on the very scenic tale of his motivational inspiring rags-to-riches ascension of independent powerhouse to the top of the Hip-Hop pole over nearly a decade in the game on the opening track really help lay the foundation for the whole album too.
This trend of powerful and hard-hitting records also evident on the next two tracks, which also happen to be the hard-hitting two lead singles, Rap N***as and Last Time That I Cheec’d featuring fellow Los Angeles street heavyweight, YG. With both lending hand to the high-piercing sonical sounds of previous Westcoast Gangsta Rap anthems from the nice melodic effect at the end on both of the 1500 or Nothin’-produced tracks. The YG featured latter track being one of those really impactful huge Westcoast bangers that shows the unity between both L.A. natives and how it can it result in such greatness.
Nip couldn’t do it all by himself for such a heavyweight occasion and primetime Hip-Hop event that will be remembered for years to come. Whether it’s him getting the likes of one of the first true Hip-Hop moguls Sean Combs going back to his Puff Daddy-persona on the very bragacious, Young N***a, fellow L.A. native and current Hip-Hop top of the podium superstar, Kendrick Lamar on the soulfully motivational Axl Folie-produced and DJ Quik-inspired, Westcoast banger, Dedication or another fellow L.A. native, Buddy on, Status Symbol 3.
Like most of Nipsey’s records throughout the years there is plenty of motivational and inspiring records and inspiringly real lyrics throughout to get you through a tough time or that you can use as motivation to get to a goal or aspiration of your own. Whether it be motivational lyrics from both Nip and Lamar dedicated to their hometown L.A. streets that sees both emcees really matching each other bar for bar with each other and giving that dedicated motivation we all need at times to pursue whatever it’s we are pursuing in life or the real how far he has come despite the odds lyrics Nip spits on the very emotionally raw soulful Mr. Lee-produced, Blue Laces 2. There’s also of course very motivational and inspiring lyrics for every hustler, street, corporate or otherwise on the JAY-Z’s “Hard Knock Life”-sampled and appropriately titled, Hussle & Motivate.
On an album that’s sure to have many different favorites, the trilogy-completing, Status Symbol 3, with its pleasantly obnoxious bass knocks and Nip’s swaggy hood philosophy intellectualism to go with Buddy’s soulfully smooth and catchy hook is definitely a favorite. The very hard-hitting and thumping drums of the Mike & Keys, 1500 or Nothin’, as well as DJ Khalil-produced, Succa Proof, which features a scene-stealing guest spot from Konshens and Neighborhood Nip’s bullying and aggressive lyrics for what is sure to be yet another favorite. Really the very cinematic drums of the Murda Beatz-produced, Grinding All My Life, which sees Nip spitting some of the sharpest rhyme-heavy bars of his career on the very autobiographical track that is arguably if not the best track, at least one of the top two or three on the album.
After a mostly rough and aggressive start to the album, Nipsey really smooths things out to a more soulfully thoughtful and in-depth reflective bars on the latter fourths of the album. With the soulfully amazing hooks from The-Dream, Cee-Lo Green and Marsha Ambrosius on three of those last tracks really adding the perfect nice soulful touch to match Hu$$le’s mostly aggressive bars. With the very poignantly soulful guitar keys on the 1500 or Nothin’ and Mike & Keys-produced, Real Big, perfectly complimenting Nipsey’s poignantly emotional reflective lyrics about all he has had to do to make it real big to the get to being one of the top emcees in the game. Ambrosius very soulfully heartfelt hook the perfect complement to match the Crenshaw natives very emotionally really heartfelt lyrics for what’s really probably the best track on the album.
The very soulfully thumping drums on the soulfully intoxicating bonus track, Double Up, which features Belly and fellow L.A. native, Dom Kennedy, really showing Hu$$le’s versatility and that reliving past struggles will never get old. As Nipsey checks of all the bases to deliver such a true masterpiece that will be remembered as a truly heavyweight release event in Hip-Hop for years to come and a modern-day classic with what’s arguably not only the best Hip-Hop album of the year, but easily one of the best albums of the year in all of music.