At the request of Nip’s brother, Blacc Sam, Hussle’s face wasn’t shown during the digital documentary. The ethereal story is rather told through visuals of Nip’s silver 2010 Mercedes Benz SL550 convertible, cruising to the Los Angeles landmarks that helped shape the man he’d become, with the mixtape playing through his black iPod 4.
The new decade served as a clean slate for Nipsey, who made the bold choice to leave Epic Records in 2010 after shelving his anticipated debut album. Going independent wasn’t as attractive or easy an option as it is today, before services like SoundCloud and TuneCore were readily available. Outsiders questioned Nip’s All Money In vision, with major record labels acting as gatekeepers controlling the rap industry’s every move.
“ [THE MARATHON] forever reminds me of Nipsey’s genius, vision, and his intuitive purpose to inspire others above all at all costs,” Blacc Sam tells Billboard. “Nipsey’s determination, dedication, and integrity were displayed in every day of his life. His marathon mentality will forever inspire.”
Through the eyes of his Benz, Nipsey travels to key L.A. landmarks including his Wilshire Blvd. studio, the now-defunct House of Blues where he performed as a burgeoning artist, Hotel Roosevelt, and the Slauson Tees store that he opened in 2008. At each stop of the experience, Nip quotes and new interviews with family members and collaborators are mixed in to provide a refreshing perspective.
The live experience feels like a mission out of Grand Theft Auto, with 3D-generated imagery created by Unreal Engine, which is actually the system Fortnite runs on. The creative director on the project, Kam Burk, wants people to feel the authenticity and dedication Nip brought to every day of his life. “Nip treated his music as philosophy, and a lot of the folks said, 'This is hood gospel,'” Burke says. “I see Nip as this Moses figure in his community, and he bet on himself and also his neighborhood.”
THE MARATHON jumpstarted Nip’s modern G-Funk journey to go from promising West Coast rhymer to self-made hip-hop cornerstone and humanitarian, which unfortunately culminated with his 2018 Grammy-nominated debut Victory Lap. As for the rumors of a posthumous album from Hussle, Blacc Sam says that would only be possible under one condition.
“A new Nipsey Hussle album would only be presented in the form of a soundtrack to his life’s documentary, [which] the family is working on,” he adds.
Watch the trailer below, and tune into the YouTube stream when THE MARATHON Live Visual Album debuts on Friday at 6:00 p.m. PT/9:00 p.m. ET.