Recording information: Interscope Studios, Santa Monica, CA; Marathon Studios, Burbank, CA; Paramount Studios, Hollywood, CA.
Photographers: Jimmy Fontaine; Jorge Peniche.
After years of buildup, South Central rapper Nipsey Hussle issued his major-label debut, Victory Lap. Featuring a throwback G-funk sound improved by modern production, the set was produced by Nipsey, his brother Samiel Asghedom, "Steve-O" Carless, Mike & Keys, Murda Beatz, and more. Growing an audience over years of independent grassroots self-promotion, Nipsey's first official full-length is a triumph for the artist, recruiting an impressive roster of guests without sacrificing his uncompromising street realness. Bleeding authenticity, the Slauson Ave. soldier remains aggressive on the booming "Rap Niggas" and YG collaboration "Last Time That I Checc'd," boasting of his self-made success. On "Dedication," Nipsey trades verses with Kendrick Lamar, declaring himself "2pac of my generation" as the pair reflect on how far they've come despite the odds. That sentiment is woven throughout Victory Lap, highlighted on the intense "Blue Laces 2"; the autobiographical "Grinding All My Life"; and the poignant "Real Big," which outlines his lifetime of struggle, providing an uplifting example for the streets. Guest vocalists Stacy Barthe, Buddy, The-Dream, and CeeLo Green provide additional soul to balance Nipsey's tough bars, while Diddy plays hype man on "Young Nigga" and Konshens delivers a song-stealing performance on the thrilling "Succa Proof." After an assertive first half, the album smooths out toward the end, developing a thoughtful and reflective depth. It's a satisfying journey that rides the strength of Nipsey's deft flow and no-nonsense lyrics. Victory Lap is not just a celebration from the scrappy MC: it's a deserved moment marking his journey from Crenshaw to the majors. ~ Neil Z. Yeung