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How Nipsey Hussle Transcended Hip-Hop, Starting In The Los Angeles Streets

Nipsey Hussle

Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage

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How Nipsey Hussle Transcended Hip-Hop, Starting In The Los Angeles Streets

To hip-hop, he was a celebrated rapper, but to Los Angeles he was an agent for change—something that echoed from his city streets into the Black community and beyond

GRAMMYs/Apr 4, 2019 - 02:06 am

On March 31, 2019 Ermias Asghedom—better known to the world as Nipsey Hussle—was assassinated at 33 years old. He was standing in front of The Marathon Clothing, one of his many business endeavors, located on the corner of West Slauson and Crenshaw Boulevard in the heart of South Los Angeles.

To hip-hop, he was a celebrated rapper, but to Los Angeles he was an agent for change—something that echoed from his city streets into the Black community and beyond. It’s hard to really comprehend just what exactly the man affectionately known as "Naybahood Nip" truly meant to the world.

Prior to his meteoric rise to fame, Nipsey was interviewed by renowned journalist Davey D about his potential career trajectory. In the interview (now circulating through social media), Nipsey tells Davey D what his plans are. "You’re not blinging and having all kinds of crazy diamonds and all that. I guess you’re here to get your money right," Davey D says.

"All the time," young Nipsey replies. "You know, all that is cool for the image and all that, but all that’s not business. I'd rather invest in some real estate." Shocked, Davey asks him to repeat himself. "Invest in some assets, as opposed to trick off my money on some liabilities like diamonds or cars that lose value as soon as you drive them off the lot," Nipsey continues. "[Get] some assets to take care of my people." He made good on that promise.

In 2005, Nipsey Hussle first entered the rap game by way of the mixtape circuit. His debut Slauson Boy Volume 1 became the catalyst for his movement, as comparisons soon circulated that a new West Coast artist with the finesse of Snoop Dogg yet the charisma of Tupac Shakur was about to make waves. By 2008, he had already inked a deal with Cinematic Music Group in conjunction with Epic Records, dropping two more mixtapes Bullets Ain’t Got No Name, Volume 1 and Volume 2, along with Volume 3 at the close of 2009. Things moved quickly for Nipsey.

Early collaborations with both Drake and Snoop Dogg showed how the young artist stood in between two different worlds within hip-hop: the classically trained-by-the-streets legends and the soon-to-be legends looking toward the future. “I think Nipsey Hussle represented a new type of artist from Los Angeles," says Soren Baker, author of The History of Gangster Rap: From Schoolly D to Kendrick Lamar, the Rise of a Great American Art Form. "A lot of the older generation of artists—the Ice-Ts, the Ice Cubes, and the Dr. Dres—have earned that respect over time. But I think Nipsey Hussle, because of how he approached things, was able to command that respect of the newer generation of artists. As his career progressed. He continued solidifying himself both musically and on the business side."

2010 was a monumental year, to say the least. Soon after he parted ways with Epic Records, Nipsey dropped his independent project The Marathon, participated in Haiti's "We Are The World 25," as well as entered into the coveted XXL Freshman Class. With every move, it became clear that Nipsey was a different breed of artist with a razor sharp focus on his community. In 2013, his Crenshaw initiative went viral, when he announced he would be selling 1,000 hard copies of the project for $100 each, making $100,000 in less than a day and pouring it right back into his community business ventures.

"Nipsey was the epitome of everything you want an individual to embody," says Karen Civil, one of four cofounders of the Marathon Agency with Nipsey, Steven Carless and Jorge Peniche. "He cared for his community, he was a businessman, he gave opportunities to people who lost hope. Crenshaw and Slauson is a dark place. Nipsey was the light. When he said he was gonna buy the block, he did."

"Being from New Jersey, I wondered, was this what it felt like when they killed Tupac?"

Through tears, Civil recalls a decade ago, her first meeting with Nipsey. "When I moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago, most people go to the Walk of Fame, they go to Disneyland, all these places. I went to Crenshaw and Slauson because I wanted to meet him," she remembers. "I remembered seeing him perform in New York and I just wanted a T-shirt. When I got there, Nipsey was behind the counter feeding his daughter. I remember saying, 'Hey, can I get a picture?' He was like, 'Are you from here?' I was like, 'No, I just moved here with Beats By Dre.' He had a whole conversation with me. Nipsey was the type of individual where when I started doing philanthropy. I said, 'I want to build a playground in Haiti. He gave me $5,000 and said, 'Go ahead.'" 

In addition to the Marathon Agency, Nipsey built his now-famed The Marathon Clothing store, the unfortunate location of his untimely death. Per Civil, he had over 14 businesses. His Vector90 tech venture offered co-working space to local residents as well as STEM programs for the youth, while he also teamed with Fatburger for special run Crenshaw jerseys. Then of course there’s Destination Crenshaw, his community-driven initiative that not only changed the perception of South Los Angeles, but gave the youth an opportunity to harness their own powers as change agents. "Destination Crenshaw showed it was much more than music for Nipsey," says Soren Baker. "That was something that developed; it wasn’t instantaneous. That’s a testament to his evolution as both an artist and businessman."

While Nipsey continued to secure wins with his music, including the GRAMMY-nominated Victory Lap in 2018, it was uplifting Los Angeles that remained his main mission. "He was a husband, he was a father, he was an entrepreneur," says Civil. "He was somebody that invoked change." His loss is felt on a number of levels, hip-hop just merely being one of them. "Being from New Jersey, I wondered, was this what it felt like when they killed Tupac?" she continues. “The air has been sucked out of Los Angeles.”

Above all, Nipsey Hussle was a visionary. Not many individuals can start in gang-affiliated streets, make music that the entire world felt, and take those wins and pour them right back into the city that raised him. He was one of a kind, and his inspiration will live on.

"The Marathon continues and will continue," Civil says. "His message will not die in vain."

Nipsey Hussle, Beloved L.A. Rapper And Activist, Lived As A Patron To His Community

Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

Seattle's Museum Of Pop Culture To Host Pearl Jam Exhibit

Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

Rosalía 

Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

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Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

El Mal Querer Tour, named after the Spanish pop star's latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances

GRAMMYs/Mar 20, 2019 - 12:25 am

Rosalía is set to perform at some of the most popular music festivals around the globe, including Primavera Sound in Spain, Lollapalooza (Argentina and Chile) and Coachella, but the Spanish pop star isn't stopping there when she gets to the States. Now, she has announced her first solo North American Tour with a string of dates that will bring her to select cities in the U.S. and Canada.

El Mal Querer Tour, named after her latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances. Then she'll play San Francisco on April 22, New York on April 30 and close out in Toronto on May 2.

 

RELATED: How Rosalia Is Reinventing What It Means To Be A Global Pop Star

"I’m so happy to announce my first solo North American tour dates," the singer tweeted.

Rosalía won Best Alternative Song and Best Fusion/ Urban Interpretation at the 19th Latin GRAMMY Awards in November and has been praised for bringing flamenco to the limelight with her hip-hop and pop beats. During her acceptance speech she gave a special shout-out to female artists who came before her, including Lauryn Hill and Bjork. 

Rosalía has been getting some love herself lately, most notably from Alicia Keys, who gave the Spanish star a shout-out during an acceptance speech, and Madonna, who featured her on her Spotify International Women's Day Playlist. 

Tickets for the tour go on sale March 22. For more tour dates, visit Rosalía's website.

2019 Music Festival Preview: Noise Pop, Coachella, Ultra & More

Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West

Taylor Swift

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images

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Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West

Following dates in Europe and South America, Swift will land in the U.S. for Lover Fest East and West, where the pop star will open Los Angeles' brand new stadium

GRAMMYs/Sep 18, 2019 - 02:38 am

Taylor Swift  will be spreading the love in support of her hit album Lover.in 2020, but it may or may not be in a city near you. The GRAMMY winner announced plans for her summer 2020 tour in support of her seventh studio album, including two shows each in Foxborough, Mass. and Los Angeles for Lover Fest East and West respectively as the only four U.S. dates announced so far.

The tour kicks off in Belgium on June 20 and hits festivals in seven European countries before heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 18 then heading to U.S. Swift will then present Lover Fest West with back-to-back Los Angeles July 25 and 26 at the newly named SoFi Stadium. The concerts will serve as the grand opening of the much-anticipated NFL venue. The tour will wrap a double header at Gillette Stadiuim in Foxborough July 31 and Aug 1

"The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic," she tweeted. "I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East + West!" 

Lover was released Aug. 23 and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Her sold-out tour for her previous album, 2017's Reputation, was the highest grossing U.S. tour ever, breaking her own record.

Tickets for the new dates go on sale to the general public via Ticketmaster on Oct. 17.