Rapper and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle is finally ready to take fans on his long-awaited victory lap. Hussle and his Los Angeles-based independent label All Money In LLC have entered into a strategic deal with Atlantic Records, Billboard has learned exclusively.
Specific terms are not being disclosed. However, the first release under the exclusive multi-album deal will be the rapper’s debut album Victory Lap, coming in 2018. Hussle also retains control over All Money In’s indie roster, which isn’t exclusive to Atlantic.
“It’s not about a fame ambition or getting a radio record,” Hussle tells Billboard of the union between All Money In and Atlantic. “The decision really came down to the message I’m trying to get across,” the self-described radical thinker continues. “I wanted to give that message the best chance to be heard and consumed on the highest level. That was my goal from the jump as All Money In took time to build its position in the hip-hop lane.”
In a joint statement, Atlantic chairman/CEO Craig Kallman and chairman/COO Julie Greenwald said, “Nipsey is not only an extraordinary MC but a true visionary and innovative entrepreneur. Over the past seven years, he has built an incredible brand that reflects his independent, non-traditional approach to what it means to be a creative artist in the modern music marketplace. We are thrilled and honored that he has chosen Atlantic as his label home.”
The new teaming marks Hussle’s return to the major-label ranks after exiting Epic Records in 2010, the same year he founded All Money In LLC. Since then, the rapper has released a series of successful mixtapes (including The Marathon and The Marathon Continues) and simultaneously become an indie beacon for creative marketing, fan engagement and game-changing business savvy.
His #Proud2Pay campaign for the 2013 mixtape Crenshaw priced first-edition physical copies of the project at $100 each with fellow entrepreneur JAY-Z purchasing 100 copies. Hussle ultimately made $100,000 selling 1,000 copies in less than 24 hours at an All Money In LLC pop-up shop in L.A. A similar marketing campaign for his 2014 mixtape Mailbox Money involved 100 limited-edition physical copies available for $1,000 each. In addition to releasing the Slauson Boy 2 mixtape last year, Hussle teamed with rapper YG for the protest song “FDT (F*** Donald Trump).” Hussle also counts previous collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Rick Ross, Meek Mill and Young Thug, among others.
Citing pioneering independent predecessors like Roc-a-Fella, Grand Hustle and Disturbing Tha Peace, Hussle adds, “Those labels started off as boutique operations, reached a boiling point in terms of cultural relevance and then partnered with a major to help take things to the next level. My vision is to build something like that. I really believe in Atlantic’s Julie Greenwald, Craig Kallman, [president of black music] Mike Kyser and [senior VP of A&R] Dallas Martin. That’s their vision for All Money In as well. We’re not just taking a check and giving up all the credit for the work we’ve done to get here.”
Hussle’s three co-founding business partners in All Money In include his brother Samiel “Blacc Sam” Asghedom, Adam Andebrhan and the late Stephen “Fatts” Donelson. “We unfortunately lost Stephen before the deal closed,” says Hussle. “He’s still a partner and we’re going to reserve his percentage.”
Hussle is also an investor in the Marathon Agency, which manages him and also collaborated on the rapper’s #Proud2Pay campaigns for Crenshaw and Mailbox Money. In partnership with Marathon principals Steven “Steve-O” Carless, Karen Civil and Jorge Peniche, Hussle’s All Money In opened the Marathon Clothing store in June. Located on the corner of Slauson Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard in L.A., the venue is the first in a planned chain of retail smartstores. In addition to All Money In and the Marathon store and clothing line, Hussle’s business endeavors include SC Commercial Ventures.