Following an outstanding 2018, Nipsey Hussle was just starting to reap the benefits of his dogged commitment to the long game in hip-hop. The 33-year-old Los Angeles native’s marathon came to a tragic end on Sunday (March 31), when Nipsey was shot and killed in front of his Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles in what police believe to be a gang-related shooting, according to NBC.
Ermias Davidson Asghedom is survived by his two children and girlfriend Lauren London. Nip’s death shook the hip-hop community to its core, prompting artists, athletes, actors, and more to show their support by filling social media timelines with heartfelt tributes. The Game recalled meeting Nipsey 12 years ago in a moving IG post.
After making waves with his Bullets Ain’t Got No Name mixtape series, Neighborhood Nip was quickly tabbed as one of the future voices of street rap representing the West Coast. From being named a XXL Freshman in 2010 to earning his first Grammy nomination for 2018’s Victory Lap, here’s a timeline of Nipsey Hussle’s best music moments.
Begins Bullets Ain’t Got No Name Mixtape Series (2008)
In 2008, Nipsey released the first two installments of his acclaimed Bullets Ain’t Got No Name mixtape trilogy, impressing fans and industry executives alike. Even then, Nip’s spirited message carried CEO-level attitude, making clear his purpose to shift the culture rather than make a quick buck. With Game’s co-sign in his back pocket, the All Money In rapper inked a joint deal he would later come to regret between Epic Records and Cinematic Music Group.
The next year he completed the trilogy, which included standout collaboration with a then up-and-comer from Toronto. Nip connected with Drake for the 1500 or Nothin’-produced “Killers,” which found the pair of emerging rappers trading rhymes with differing meanings of what it meant to be a killer. “Listen, look before rap my last name was my lifestyle/ And when I visualize success it look like right now,” the L.A. native rapped after taking the baton from Drizzy. The 6 God was one of the many celebrities that publicly paid homage to Nipsey after learning of his death on Sunday (March 31).
Joins the XXL Freshman Class (2010)
Without national radio play, Nipsey Hussle made enough noise to be named one of XXL’s Freshman for the magazine’s stacked class of 2010. That year’s class boasted future superstars J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa, and Big Sean, as well as Gucci Mane-affiliate OJ Da Juiceman, Pill, Freddie Gibbs, Jay Rock, Fashawn, and Donnis. Take a trip down memory lane with Nip’s fiery induction freestyle below.
Cracks the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Charts (2010)
After signing a publishing deal with BMI in 2010, Neighborhood Nip figured the timing was right for his anticipated debut album. Hussle kicked off the rollout to the eventually scrapped effort in July with the pop-leaning “Feelin’ Myself,” featuring Lloyd, whose stock was sky-high from stealing the show on Young Money’s “BedRock.” (Nip had previously connected with Lloyd in 2009 for “Gotta Take It.”) The mainstream tune became the rapper’s debut on the Billboard charts, with track peaking at No. 93 on the Hot R&B/Rap chart in October 2010.
By November, fans were still looking for the album. Hussle announced that South Central State of Mind was delayed on Twitter. “SOUTH CENTRAL STATE OF MIND IS MY MASTERPEICE. WHEN ITS DONE U WILL GET IT,” he wrote. “THIS IS NOT MY LABELS DECISION, ITS A CREATIVE MOVE TO ENSURE THAT I GIVE MY TRUE BELIVERS MY BEST OFFERING ON MY DEBUT ALBUM. MY LIFE HAS BEEN SUCH A STRUGGLE, AND I ALWAYS SAID IF I EVER MAKE IT TO WHERE I AM NOW I WOULD DO IT FROM THE HEART.”
Nip eventually replaced plans for his first studio LP with The Marathon mixtape, which would be his first release under his new All Money In label. He was once agin an independent artist after leaving Epic Records earlier in 2010.
Sells Crenshaw Mixtape for $100 (2013)
What’s the value of music? With that very question on his mind, Nipsey launched his “Proud 2 Pay” campaign in an attempt to shake up the hip-hop marketplace. Even though his latest tape Crenshaw was available on mixtape-hosting websites, Hussle set up a pop-up shop where the autographed physical edition of the project could be purchased for $100 in a package that included a ticket to his next show, a phone call from Nip, plus other incentives.
The move to bet on himself would prove to be a shrewd one. Word eventually got to Jay-Z, who famously bought 100 copies of Crenshaw on behalf of Roc Nation. Nipsey’s diehard fan base also responded and he sold all 1,000 copies in 24 hours. “I want to build a product company, I want it to be like an urban Sanrio eventually,” Asghedom told Forbes at the time. “I want our focus to be products that can’t go digital, that can’t turn into ones and zeroes, because anything that can eventually will.”
Brings the Anti-Trump Movement to Musical Life on YG’s “FDT” (2016)
In the time leading up to Election Day 2016, YG and Nipsey united to show unity via a common enemy. The simple hook — “Fuck Donald Trump” — made the Cali duo’s stance clear.
“I think that song really brought people together,” YG explained to Rolling Stone. “Everybody was already talking about it, motherfuckers would talk about it in they little circles, with they friends, with they closer people. I think that record just helped the conversation be more like, ‘Ay, yeah, ay, fuck Trump.’ Like, from across the hall. I feel like that record did that for sure. And for the people that is Trump supporters, we found out.”
Releases Victory Lap (2018)
Having played the long-game for years, Nipsey decided the time was finally right to deliver his magnum opus. Victory Lap arrived as both his debut and the culmination of years of grinding, 16-tracks of West Coast rap served immacuately. Victory Lap was filled was gems for the next generation to soak in, as Nip reflected on his unique transformation from gangbanger to business owner and community role model. The album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 after moving 53,000 album-equivalent units. Its decorated guest list included assists from Kendrick Lamar, YG, Buddy, Puff Daddy, and CeeLo Green.
Earns His First Grammy Nomination (2019)
Victory Lap surpassed even the highest of expectations, standing among the best releases of the year in any genre. The Grammys even took notice, resulting in a best rap album nomination for the project. Nip competed alongside an impressive group that include the late Mac Miller, Pusha T, Travis Scott and Cardi B, who would take home the trophy. A dapper Nipsey attended the 61st Grammy Awards in February with Lauren London and daughter Imani. “I just wanted to do something timeless and that years from now, you’d enjoy it and say, ‘That was classic hip-hop right there. That’s what our genre sounds like [at its best],'” Nipsey told Billboard, explaining why Victory Lap was the album of the year.
Plans for Joint Album With Meek Mill (2019)
“We’ve been cutting ideas and just getting in,” Nipsey told Real 92.3. “We got a couple records that’s going to go off for the summer. It’s not hard at all we just got to lock in and get the records done. We working right now as we speak. We on album time right now. Next thing we going to put out musically is an album.”
Nip was also slated to make an appearance on DJ Khaled‘s upcoming Father of Asahd album. John Legend explained on Twitter Sunday night (March 31) that he had just been shooting the visual with Hussle in Inglewood for a track on Khaled’s upcoming LP, which will be released May 17.
The marathon continues. R.I.P. Nipsey Hussle.
RIP Nipsey. I just spent Thursday with him filming a video for a beautiful new song we created with Khaled. We filmed in Inglewood, close to where he grew up. He was so gifted, so proud of his home, so invested in his community. Utterly stunned that he’s gone so soon.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) April 1, 2019
— THA GREAT (@NipseyHussle) March 11, 2019