Nipsey Hussle’s life is a documentary. There is no doubt that his life up to this point has been a hustle. The fact that he grew up in South Central L.A., in the midst of the Rollin’ 60’s Crip set just adds the sour blueberry on top. The politics of his neighborhood are the downfall of many, but Nipsey Hussle has used the lessons learned in the streets to help push him in the rap game.
A couple setbacks in his life didn’t stop Nipsey from putting out several mixtapes, most notably his Bullets Aint Got No Name series, and they haven’t stopped him from being honed as the next great rapper from the West Coast. Snoop Dogg is his backing, the West Coast is his platform, and Parlé was his stage to speak on his the status of his career. Our Nipsey Hussle interview…
Parlé: So what’s up Nipsey, how you feel right now as far as your career and everything.
Nipsey Hussle: I feel good, can’t complain. We preparin’ for the album to come out through my main method of execution.
Parlé: Oh yeah? What’s that? The main method of execution?
Nipsey Hussle: The main method of execution is work, no breaks. I always felt that you gon’ get out what u put into something. Everything in my life is put on hold for this music. Realistically, it’s been like a love-hate relationship. At 18, 19, I devoted myself to it. I sold everything I had. Me and my big brother Black Sam. My brother was under investigation for shit, and they took all my equipment and took me to jail. When I came back I fell back into the street, up until about ’08, when I got up with Epic and Cinematic Records. My first couple of months of servin’ 90 days, I was fighting a case, and goin’ back and forth to court. I don’t wanna go fully into it, but, spent advance money on lawyers a week after I got my deal. I got my deal and advance, went to Jamaica for a week, I had a lot of money but I couldn’t move. It was serious, really put a strain on me.
Parlé: That’s crazy man, but you’re out now…transitioning to another topic, tell the people where you from.
Nipsey Hussle: I’m from Crenshaw and Slauson Avenue. It’s a large area, known as the Rollin’ 60’s. I grew up over there my whole life, from ’85. This aint a campaign on the gang or for gangbangin’ but I grew up in that culture. People put me in that criticism cuz of that, but I’m tryin’ to bring change and motivation to my community.
Parlé: That’s what’s up, are you mixed with anything?
Nipsey Hussle: My moms was born in America. My pops is from Eritrea, next door to Ethiopia.
Parlé: I just had to ask, a lot of people I’ve spoken to about you say you look like Snoop a bit, and you’re a tall dude. But what’s your real name, and height?
Nipsey Hussle: My real name is Ermias Asghedom, and I’m 6’3″. Snoop is a lil’ taller, he’s about 6’5″, 6″6″. I could’ve went pro, put it like that.
Parlé: Did you play ball?
Nipsey Hussle: I played ball for a lil’ bit, in middle school and high school but it didn’t pan out cuz I wasn’t doin’ too well academically.
Parlé: I could feel that. I’m guessing basketball was a part of the lifestyle in L.A. too. But besides that, what was it really like growing up in Los Angeles?
Nipsey Hussle: My moms and pops split up when I was three. Me and my pops live in the same crib now though, but my pops came thru when he could when I was younger. It was just a failed relationship between him and my moms. It’s like any other situation when u break up with a female. But I mean, I grew up around a lil’ bit of everything. I was raised by my moms and granny. My moms was re-married to my sisters pops. I wasn’t really fond of her choice of husband so around 14 or 15 I went on my own. I moved wit granny for a lil’ bit, then on my own for real. By 15, 16 I started gettin’ into the gangbangin’ and streetlife. But my moms always stressed school and education. She put me on to prison and just bein’ a black man in America. Bein’ in the streets at a young age, L.A. is a real place. I was exposed to everything, killin’, dope sellin’, police, jail shit, politics in the hood, I had a front row seat to it all homie.
Parlé: And you grew up round the Rollin’ 60’s?
Nipsey Hussle: Yeah.
Parlé: Ya’ll still got beef wit Eight-Tray Gangsters? (The Eight-Tray Gangstas are the major rival of the Rollin’ 60’s).
Nipsey Hussle: It’s still politics, almost every neighborhood got enemies and enemy hoods in different parts of L.A. Mine in particular was the Hoovers and Eight-Trays. I’m personally, more mature with my state of thinkin’. My full-time day-to-day is music, from an individual standpoint. I met a dude that was from the Eight-Trays and he gave me a pound and told me he respected me for my music and liked what I was doin’. But that’s on an individual level. As a collective, it’s still on and crackin’ with each other. But n*ggas is really only gangbangin’ cause of a lack of options. Wherever a dude might be at now is out of hopelessness. There aren’t many other options, but if he could play ball, or rap, or take control of Magic Mountain he’ll choose that! But that’s what the environment got to offer. The hood is consistent where other things is in and out ya life.
Parlé: Does the street life and rap star life go hand in hand in any way? And if they don’t then how are they different?
Nipsey Hussle: Being in the street gives you a deep understanding of people. You playing for keeps. In music its your career; and in the streets its your life. For me, with both the streets and music, respect comes first. I won’t sign or do business with a person if I don’t respect ‘em. All money aint good money homie. I got my own understanding of life, if I don’t fck with you personally, I can’t do business with you. Same thing wit a female. I’m not gon fck you if you look good or just ’cause you say you got good pssy. If I don’t like you, I just can’t fck with you, money won’t make me move every time.
Parlé: How have you seen the West Coast scene change with the Jerk Movement and Pac Div, And Tyga coming out?
Nipsey Hussle: Oh it’s the world, not just the West Coast. Pac Div and shit, they represent mainstream America, and its a reflection of where people are in America. People want to see a different side of expression. But the street side ain’t in the forefront, it’s not in high demand, but don’t get me wrong I’m doin’ aight! I’m eatin’ very well right now. I respect the grind of all these dudes and I feel like everything evolves. That’s what they on, the Jerk movement is something that really exist. If you go to the schools out here they’re really dressin’ up like that and rockin’ mohawks and all that! They represent!
Parlé: No doubt, no doubt. So for you, yourself, who’s some of the people that you’ve worked with that really blew your mind, or you really just enjoyed working with?
Nipsey Hussle: Mr. Lee, a producer from Houston, he’s definitely one of the best producers I worked with. Drake too with what we cooked up. He got his buzz for a reason. Game is another beast.
Parlé: Did anything in particular influence you to be a rapper? Did the gang life make you wanna get into rap? And did you have anybody that you looked up to?
Nipsey Hussle: Hip hop was the most dominant culture in the world over gangbangin’. Gangbangin’ pulled me in the opposite direction of music actually. Bein’ exposed to the streets, that shit ain’t agree with music. But music gave me a space to get a lot off my chest.
Parlé: And the rest is history, as far as you being signed to Cinematic/Epic Records go down?
Nipsey Hussle: I Had a buzz in LA and cinematic put they move on Epic, and told them that they wanted an L.A. artist. Me and my brother was printing posters and mixtapes, buyin equipment, bookin’ shows, studio time just me and my brother. It just let me know that if you work hard you’ll achieve ya goal. I personally don’t think you a hustler til’ you take your first big loss.
Parlé: And when did you take yours?
Nipsey Hussle: When the police hit my house and took everything I worked for while lookin’ for my brother. They took it all and booked me wit a case. Tryin’ to put a charge on my brother. They put a gun charge on me because there was a gun in the house that was unregistered, but they tried to charge me because I had access to it and they took me to jail. As well as taking $70,000 worth of production equipment. And with that said I would like to give a big ‘F*ck You’ to the 77th St. L.A. Police Dept.
Parlé: That’s crazy man, for real.
Nipsey Hussle: Yeah, it was crazy.
Parlé: But apart from that, and back to the music side of things, what sets you apart as an Emcee?
Nipsey Hussle: My story, where I come from, me as a person and what I stand for. I’m not tryin to sell u nothin’. It’s just expression; its just me telling my story. Ain’t no commercial, it’s more like a movie or documentary. And I been doing this since I was 12 years old.
Parlé: You still remember your first rap?
Nipsey Hussle: (Laughs) Naw you’d have to give me a whole lot, or pay me somethin’ for me to that for you homie!
Parlé: Haha, alright we’ll let that go then…How about battlin’? You ever had to battle anyone or prove yourself like that?
Nipsey Hussle: Naw, if a person want to test my mic skills all he gotta do is listen to my records. If a dude diss me in my face I’ma slap ‘em. Period. All that stuff wasn’t really big in L.A. anyway.
Parlé: What’s the backstory on the BET cypher?
Nipsey Hussle: They just came to me with that, and I wasn’t gon’ tell ‘em no!
Parlé: When you’re on a big stage like that, or on a stage at a concert, do you ever get nervous?
Nipsey Hussle: Hell yeah, at one time I was kinda nervous, I like it tho, cuz I can get over it quick. I can just dive in headfirst. It’s like a fight, before you fight. You might be a little nervous at first, but then you just dive in. Everybody gon’ go through it—win, lose or draw.
Parlé: What was it like when you met Snoop?
Nipsey Hussle: First and foremost, 100% he a real crip, no bullshit. But he was just like “I love what you doin’, I f*ck wit you. Whatever you need from me is done.” I respect Snoop grind. I could call him for advice and he 100% about it.
Parlé: What’s probably the most important piece of advice Snoop gave you to date?
Nipsey Hussle: He told me “It’s never them, its always you. If it satisfy you then it’s cool. Don’t worry about people ’cause they gon’ say what they want. Its always about you.”
Parlé: Snoop told U.S. Weekly that Nipsey Hussle is his Favorite rapper. How does that make you feel?
Nipsey Hussle: It’s different cause I had 40-year-old middle-aged American women hittin’ me up tellin’ me about it. And just older folks in general, people you wouldn’t expect was tellin’ me about it. But it wasn’t the first time he’s shouted me out on a mainstream level. But regardless of what its always a good look, definitely.
Parlé: That’s cool man, that’s real cool. And what do you think about the South’s take over of the rap game and all that?
Nipsey Hussle: Like I said before everything evolves. They was fans of us, the West and the East Coast when we was on top. I’m more than inspired by Jeezy, Wayne and Tip. I salute it, I love it. And they show me love when I’m out there without me havin’ to change my sound up.
Parlé: That’s what it is! What’s the state of the West Coast right now?
Nipsey Hussle: Nipsey Hussle, Slauson Boys, no cut, that’s it.
Parlé: How’d the Slauson Boys come about?
Nipsey Hussle: We used to be a label, but the label is All Money In(All $ In), no money out. You just aint gon’ make as much as a rapper as a businessman.
Parlé: What you think is the state of the rap game right now? What you think is missing?
Nipsey Hussle: Nipsey Hussle and Slauson Boys. It’s tunnel vision. I don’t see nothing else!
Parlé: Haha, I can dig that. How would you like to be viewed as a rapper when ya career is up?
Nipsey Hussle: I want to be what Mercedes Benz is to automobiles…At the top of the list.
Parlé: So what’s next on Nipsey Hu$$le’s plate?
Nipsey Hussle: The album, South Central State of Mind sometime in 2010. There’s no specific date at the moment, but we’re gonna announce it pretty soon. But I’m def aiming for this year, as far as what I’m doing that’s what is. And I’m just in the studio every day. Photoshoots might take me out here and there, and look out for those photoshoots, but other than that, Slauson Boys up next, then I’ma drop another album. Then the Slauson Boys gon’ be released to the world. Then I’ma drop another album. And I’ma keep goin til’ I’m 35. I’m tryin’ to drop an album every year til’ I’m 35, so that’s the plan…
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