As the music industry’s business model has evolved over the past decade, so has the mind-set of artists looking to secure a spot in the ever-changing musical landscape. Gone is the era of massive first-week album sales, massive music video budgets and securing a spot on a record label. Independent artists can make a substantial impact on culture these days without the financial backing of the industry machine by employing tools like social media, streaming music sites, and touring. These and other contemporary industry mechanisms push their projects to a target audience and increase their fan bases. For Crenshaw’s (CA) own Nipsey Hussle, acing the indie route required one more critical component–honesty. “You’ve got a job as an artist which is staying relevant and telling the truth,” he earnestly explains while speaking from a Miami recording studio on a sunny Friday afternoon. “I feel like as an artist you’ve got to have a relationship with your fans and the people that are tuning in to you. You’ve got to do it a certain way.”
Drifting through his sentences with an Angeleno accent oozing with a determined easiness as he retells the triumphs of his day, Hussle lets us in on a few things. Following a late night in the studio, he took a post-morning detour to grab some lobster at an Oplacka, Florida staple–The Crab Man. He then returned to the studio where he continued to work on his upcoming debut album The Marathon, a project he describes as his ode to endurance. Born and raised in West Los Angeles’ Crenshaw, Nipsey shelved the narratives of unrest and self-destruction he repeatedly witnessed in his neighborhood. “I come from an area [where] we are cannibals. We destroy ourselves. We don’t allow ‘Nipsey Hussles’ to happen. So for this thing to succeed was already game changing,” he says.
Hussle wasn’t always sure his rapping would be his ticket out of the turmoil. Though he says he always had aspirations of working in music, he ditched those dreams as he moved into his teenage years. Life on the street seemed appealing to a young Hussle, eventually leading him to join a gang. As he matured into his late teens, he says he outgrew the toxic mentality destroying so many others around him. Armed with his teenage dream to make music, he invested in some recording equipment and began to shape his rap career. “I started making mixtapes independently in LA, and selling them out of the trunk of my car on Crenshaw and Slauson, one of the corners we used to grind on,” Hussle explains.
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Original Article In Bleu Magazine Written by Treye Green