The Wrap Up recently caught up with US hip-hop artist Nipsey Hussle on his first ever trip to London. Leanne Petersen had a chat with him about everything from living in L.A and being compared to Snoop Dogg, to how much he’d like to work with UK grime MC Dizzee Rascal and much more…
The Wrap Up: How would you say that growing up in South Central L.A has shaped you as a person?
Nipsey Hussle: It’s had everything to do with my understanding of life, me being exposed to different realities where going to jail is actually possible, getting killed is actually a reality, as is it a strong possibility. I think it’s matured me a little bit, having enemies around the corner from you, coming out at any direction; it just gives you a survival instinct. Living in Los Angeles, it’s a war state of mind. But overall I think it’s given me a solid foundation, although it’s not all good, it’s given me a foundation.
TWU: You’re compared to Snoop Dogg quite often, but is this something that concerns you as an artist? Do you think it will take away your credibility as an artist?
Nipsey Hussle: First off, Snoop is an icon and I’m a fan of Snoop, I was influenced by Snoop. But I’m not a copy of him, or trying to be him. I think the comparisons are more my style, I’m from L.A, I’m a West Coast artist too, so I’m from a similar perspective. It is my job to distinguish the difference and make it clear as to what’s special about Nipsey and that’s the difference between not only me and Snoop, but other artists. It’s a saturated rap game, you know? Everyone’s an artist these days, but they compare Kobe to Jordan, Nas to Rakim, Jay-Z to Big Daddy Kane, but over time they did their thing and developed their own sound and that’s what I’m here to do.
TWU: The album is called ‘A South Central State Of Mind,’ but what is a South Central state of mind?
Nipsey Hussle: It’s a lot of things, it’s the culture of gang banging in L.A and I’m not saying I’m waving the flag, but at the same time that’s just the reality of the streets in L.A. Me growing up in that part of Los Angeles, I felt that the people there in that struggle never had a voice. There are a lot of things that go along with that lifestyle whether they’re involved in it, lost themselves in it, homies to it, or doing time in jail. It affects everybody, so I just wanted to evolve around that as a concept for my project and also shed light from an educated point of view as to what’s going on in L.A, because it is a problem.
TWU: So what can we expect from the album?
Nipsey Hussle: It’s an update on the West Coast; we haven’t heard my generation speak. I’m 24, so you know I’m speaking for everyone after The Game, Snoop and Dr. Dre era. It’s a classic West Coast project.
TWU: The first single is called ‘Feelin’ Myself’ featuring R&B singer Lloyd. How did that collaboration come about?
Nipsey Hussle: Me and Lloyd have mutual business acquaintances and when I got signed they asked me who I would like to work with, I said Lloyd and so we got on the phone in 2009 and we spoke. We did a record for my ‘Vol: 3’ mixtape and from then on me and Lloyd have been cool. When I heard this record I was like, ‘This is big, I need a star that’s got the vocals, swag, and the fans to compliment the record,’ so I thought Lloyd fitted it perfectly and he’s my home boy, so it all came out cool.
TWU: So are you familiar with any UK artists?
Nipsey Hussle: Yeah I like Sway and I like Dizzee.
TWU: Well, Dizzee Rascal has said in the past that he is a fan of yours. Would you ever consider working on a track with him?
Nipsey Hussle: Yeah, I’m a fan of Dizzee; I’d love to collaborate with him. They hit me up when he said that last year on Jonathan Ross and I hit him up on Twitter, but he hasn’t got back to me. But yeah Dizzee, let’s get it!
TWU: Rumours are going around that you might sign to G-Unit. Is there any truth in that at all?
Nipsey Hussle: I met 50 this weekend when I was in New York and we took a picture together and it was all over the net. I’m not signing to G-Unit, but I’m a fan of 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks, we’re cool. I’m a fan of the whole movement, I rate 50 as a business man and an artist, so you know, just to have a relationship with him in that respect, I f**k with it. I’m not signing to him as an artist, had he come to me before I signed to Epic, I might have. I respect 50 and I feel we could do something, but now I’m signed to Epic I’m in a position where I’m not looking for a record deal.
TWU: And finally, I read that you studied Philosophy in college. Can you tell us one of your favourite quotes?
Nipsey Hussle: I forget who said it, but one of my favourites is, ‘The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.’
Stay up to date with Nipsey Hussle on Twitter - www.twitter.com/NIPSEYHUSSLE
Words: Leanne Petersen
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson