Two years ago, Nipsey’s passing was something that caught everyone off guard. It was so sudden and so surprising that you couldn’t prepare for it. It was one of those events that had people asking each other where they were when they heard the news. My story of where I was takes us to the other side of the world, in Japan.
To give some additional context here, I’m a big Nipsey Hussle fan. I know that sounds played out now since his passing, but new Nipsey releases were something I’d actively look for. I remember when I first heard “Hussle In The House” back in ‘08, I remember Bullets Ain’t Got No Name Vol. 1,2 & 3. I remember when South Central State of Mind was supposed to be the title of his debut album, I remember when Ross wanted to sign him to MMG (Maybach Music Group) and I remember getting gassed* when I saw him on the cover of XXL in a Mac’s convenience store after school. I really rated Nip. Not necessarily because I thought he was the best lyricist ever, but more so because his music was real. Even though I didn’t necessarily relate to his upbringing, grow up in the hood or join the crips, his music still impacted me.
I always wanted to visit Japan but I never took that dream seriously until I watched Nipsey’s “Forever On Some Fly Shit” music video. Back in 2012, I watched this habesha* brother from Crenshaw and Slauson find a way to take his music from his block to the other side of the world through hard work, patience and preparation. Aftering watching that video, I made it a personal goal to get to Japan before the end of the decade. As time passed, that desire to go grew not only because I became fascinated by Japanese history and culture, but because I felt that Nipsey’s career moved steadily towards success shortly after that video dropped. I thought to myself, “if Nip found a way, I can find a way”.
Fast forward seven years and I found my way to the Yasukuni shrine in Chiyoda, Tokyo. After all the planning and sacrifice, I was really there. It only made sense to commemorate the moment by taking bare* photos like an obnoxious tourist…so that’s exactly what I did until I checked social media. In my excitement to send some of the mandem* pics of where I was, I learned the sad reports of Nipsey passing in Crenshaw. The artist that motivated me to go literally further than I’ve ever been away from home, was gone.
Nipsey’s music inspired me and that’s what made it so upsetting coming to terms with his passing. Although I’ve never actually met him, I felt connected to him because I grew into a man at the at the same time that he was documenting his progression through other stages of manhood. At first, it was weird to think that I wouldn’t have new music from Nip to get me through future chapters in my life. When I really think back on things though, maybe his music already equipped me with all the inspiration I needed. Maybe it was time for me to now lace up my kicks and run my own marathon.
See, the Marathon series wasn’t just a collection of music to me. It was like a hidden language with instructions on how to win while running your own race. To go from The Marathon to TMC (The Marathon Continues) to Victory Lap wasn’t accidental. It was the natural progression on his journey through life. I looked at his passing as his life going full circle. He not only reached the original goal he set for himself when it all started, but maybe in doing that, he fulfilled his purpose in life. Motivating the masses to be better versions of themselves every day.
Thank you Nip for teaching me and so many others that regardless of our flaws, we can still beat the odds and fight for something we believe in. Thank you for showing us that a path still exists even when you don’t settle for what they try to give you. Thank you for showing us that you don’t have to sacrifice your integrity to impact people around on the world.
In honour of the two year anniversary of his passing, I’ve put a playlist together of some of my favourite b-side Nipsey records (most of which you might not have heard). It’s 33 songs that can be played in their song order to show the progression in his mindstate and his music from his first mixtape to his studio album. The marathon continues and may his legacy live on. Give it a listen and let me know what you think in our comments on IG at: @day.four.
*I’ve got the tracklist after the Spotify playlist with links for any Apple Music users that want to follow along.*
Nip Hussle Tha Great Tracklist (Apple Music song links):
Hussla Hoodsta feat. Hoodsta Rob
Piss Poor feat. Cuzzy Capone
Roll The Windows Up feat. We-Dogg, Hoodsta Rob & K Young
The Hussle Way
Keys 2 The City
U Don’t Got a Clue
Blue Laces feat. Goldie
ROAD TO RICHES
FOREVER ON SOME FLY SHIT
Gangstas Life feat. Snoop Dogg
Killer feat. Drake
Face The World
Real Nigga Moves feat. Dom Kennedy
That’s How I Knew
Blueprint feat. Dave East
Never Gone Know
The Field feat. Bino Rideaux & Young Dolph
Status Symbol 2 feat. Buddy
Been Down feat. Swizz Beatz
Blue Laces 2
Young Nigga feat. Diddy
Status Symbol 3 feat. Buddy
Million While You Young feat. The-Dream
Loaded Bases feat. CeeLo Green
Real Big feat. Marsha Ambrosius
gassed* – to get excited
habesha* – people of Eritrean or Ethiopian heritage
bare* – a lot
mandem* – the homies, my friends