interview Nipsey Hussle (July 2009) | Interview By: Jose Ho-Guanipa

Dubcnn recently went on location to the set of the film "The Wrath of Cain" to chop it up with the hottest artist in the West Coast right now Nipsey Hussle. He discusses with us his budding acting career, his street past, it's effect on his music career, the mistakes he doesn't want to make in the industry and the importance of presenting an authentic representation of his life with his music.

We have the transcript below however we urge you to also check out the video as well. Leave feedback on our forums or email them to jose@dubcnn.com.

Interview was conducted in July 2009
Related Media
Nipsey Husle - Strapped
Nipsey Hussle - Speak My Language


Nipsey Hussle // Exclusive Video Interview // Dubcnn

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Dubcnn: Whatís up yíall itís Jose with Dubcnn. Iím on location here with Nipsey Hussle.

Nipsey Hussle: Yeah, yeah, what it do, what it do. Neighborhood Nip, Dubcnn yaíll know the business. Whatís the word homie? Iím little Ricky right now, Iím not Nipsey, Iím in character.

Dubcnn: We all know who you are, youíre Nipsey Hussle. Tell us what youíre doing here on this movie set.

Nipsey Hussle: We shooting a film called The Wrath of Cain and it stars myself, Ving Rhames and Gillie Da Kid. Itís about a relationship between two sons that donít know about us, which is myself and Gillie Da Kid, and we end up in the penitentiary, on the yard that our fatherís on. The whole story play out, and it go into depth about the connection between myself and Gillie. Gillie happen to be a blood Iím playiní a crip in the movie. Itís a lot of parallels to street life, how the only difference between dudes in the street is where they mom pay rent at. And thatís the overall theme of the movie, and it play out on the yard in prison and we find out that we brothers and he that heís our pops. Itís a cool story. Ving hooked the role up for me. He heard the mixtape and wrote the whole character around my mixtape so itís an easy role for me.

Dubcnn: Talking about streetlife, tell us about your background and how you got involved in that.

Nipsey Hussle: I grew up in a neighborhood controlled by the rolling 60s. I lived there since 85. I always wanted to do music, before anything I wanted to rap. And I wanted to be involved in creativity and doing music but for just for lack of resources, lack of options and opportunities I fell into that lifestyle. My music is a representation of that culture and that mindstate that exists in LA. Like I always say I donít promote, I donít perpetuate it, I donít condone or endorse gang violence. I mean the killing of the people just on the sole strength of ďhe our Ďenemyí ď or, ďhe from another side of townĒ or, ďhe from the enemy hoodĒ. But my music represent that culture and that mentality and that lifestyle from an intelligent perspective. I like to think that I create from a perspective of where we need to go and want change. So it is what it is. It was a lot that I was a part of, a lot that I seen, a lot that I experienced growing up over there. And now we transitioning to this professional corporate world where we can do legal things to pay the bills and get money on the books so itís a blessing.

Dubcnn: When people hear your music they almost think itís a throwback to the G-Funk era and all that stuff. Like youíre coming from the same place. Can you compare that musically and on the streets. What are the differences now and then?

Nipsey Hussle: Musically what Iím saying is right now. All they gotta do is listen, they gonna hear the clear distinction. But I think the concept, the content, the way I select my music, my beats and the sound I represent is classic West Coast. Me personally, I was kinda thrown off when West Coast artists came out sounding like they was from Miami or Atlanta or even sounding like they was from New York. It kinda left me confused, meaning like, ďThatís not our lifestyleĒ. The trapping and the cars on candy paint, thatís not what we known for. I mean we got that in LA but thatís not what we pioneered and originated. As far as the sound of my music and the basis for it, I want it to be classic West Coast but at the same time updated and brought to the future.

Dubcnn: Talking about coming from the street life, why do you think so many people from your hood have to turn to that life and if so, how do you think can that be changed?

Nipsey Hussle: I feel like thatís the only structure that exists in the streets of LA. Thereís no other structure, thereís no other format, thereís no other program other than gangbanging. You canít really hustle and get money if you not a part of a gang. You canít really be a man if you in the streets. Now if you going to school or going to work or pursuing a career, thatís different. You still goní be affected by it, but you donít necessarily have to become a part of it. But if you not going to school, you not going to work, you trying to get it in the street, the gravity of it and the pull of it is so strong that itís gonna eventually consume you or you gonna be a part of it. Just because thatís the only force that really exists, thatís our culture. Thatís embedded into the minds, bodies and souls of everybody from that part of LA, thereís no way around it. Itís almost like if you donít go straight left and walk the straight and narrow, which a lot of people in my neighborhood did that, and so they really wasnít affected so much. They still got homeboys that died to this shit and know people in jail behind it and seen the effects of it but they didnít have the firsthand experience with it. But if you was like not going to school, you wasnít pursuing a career, you were just kinda find your way, the streets was gonna find you and you were gonna become a part of it, 90% of the time.

Dubcnn: Were there any times after your music career started where that street life held you back, where it almost prevented you from moving forward with your music?

Nipsey Hussle: Most definitely. Numerous times. Times, that Iíd never know about. Sometimes people shut down to me and wouldnít deal with me for whatever reasons and I wasnít clear on why. I always had quality music, I was always a person that came to the tables and spoke business, I done never tried to threaten people with force or make a situation for me or else, I never used that tactic. I always stepped to people with fair exchange no robbery, mutual benefit, ďThis is what I can do for you and this is what I need you to do for me.Ē A lot of times people just based on my affiliation, or based on the preconceived notion of what I was about or what my homeboys, my area, and my movement was about, they just didnít want to have nothiní to do with it. And I ainít mad at them, I canít blame them because a person from a totally different walk of life wouldnít understand that. So I kind of want to, through my music, break that barrier down, to show people that we human beings. We not animals, people that come from that element, they not animals. We is the effect of a cause, we not the cause. We the effect of something thatís been going on for decades in LA. Record labels turning us down, execs not wanting to meet with us, promoters not booking us, all of that. On the other side of the coin, itís positivity from it also. The streets is vouchiní completely, they embracing us to the tee. Every city I go to they showiní love to us. Itís a double-edged sword, but it is what it is, it ainít always good or itís not always bad.

Dubcnn: Was there a certain moment where you could actually think back to where you realized youíre doing this music shit for serious and that youíre in the game?

Nipsey Hussle: It was a couple times, when I got released from jail this last time. While I was sittiní in there I made decisions, to not make none of the mistakes I was making before, and to check myself and to make sure that thisíd be the last time Iím in this position. ĎCause it become frustrating as you see yourself walkiní in circles. Definitely when they released me from the county I gave myself a new focus and just promised myself that Iíd never be in that position again. When I signed my record deal, obviously, when I knew it was for real, when I first heard my song played on the radio. Like it was a lotta times that reinforced it. It came out to me out the sky oen day, I was on Crenshaw and Slauson, I was in the middle of my grind, at the height of my being in the streets, and I was just like, ďThis shit is not permanent. Itís got no future in this.Ē And it just kinda hit me like a brick out the sky and I was like, ďIímma devote everything I got into this lane that I feel I can achieve, this music.Ē ĎCause I always felt I had talent in this shit. So really from there on out it was just a constant struggle just to stay focused and stay at it.

Dubcnn: Whatís your response to people saying youíre the next Snoop Dogg?

Nipsey Hussle: I mean Iím the first Nipsey Hussle, no disrespect to Snoop. I think thatís a tendency people have to carry, they always wanna compare you to something. Say you sound like, or you look like, or you remind them of because a lot of people donít have the vision to see something new. A lot of people donít have the faith that something new can exist. I think thatís the difference between the creators and the consumers. The creators we believe that, ďIf I can see it, I can make it happen. If I can think it I can put it together.Ē Before this was a couch that somebody could sit on this was somebodyís thought. So I believe in creativity, you donít have to be the second nobody. You copy somebody you walk in somebodyís shoes at best you goní be second. So it is what it is. My music is gonna make the clear distinction. Obviously I do favor dude, just as far as my look, Iím a LA dude. I got a similar dialect, and tone and content in my music Ďcause we represent the same culture. But my story is totally different and my songs is gonna orchestrate and illustrate that in a different direction.

Dubcnn: People kind of see you as the new face of the West Coast. Do you feel a burden at all as far as trying to bring the West Coast back in terms of sales?

Nipsey Hussle: Nah, Iím doiní me man. Iímma just do me. Itís not no challenge when you do yourself. You donít have to think about being yourself. If you trying to be the next on the West or you trying to be the king of the West or you trying to be the next so and so thatís something you gotta think about. Iím just trying to be Nipsey, Iím trying to just do me and do what I feel is the purest and the most sincere expression of me.

Dubcnn: One of the reasons people really feel you is that they can tell youíre a real dude. How do you think they can get that just from hearing your music?

Nipsey Hussle: I think that it comes from a real place. Everybody draws from a place when they create and I draw from what I feel is my truth. Whether somebody agree with it or not, whether somebody has an opinion about it or not I try to make sure everything I put on record and everything I say come from my truth, meaning it comes from a sincere place in me. Like I said I donít have to think about it, I donít have to, ďOh is they goní like this line, or do this song go in the direction of my image.Ē I come from a sincere place.

Dubcnn: Speaking on sincerity what do you think about some of the rappers out now that are kind of putting; on spectacles and shows, they almost create a fantasy persona. Do you think thereís a place for that as long as the musicís good? What do you think about that?

Nipsey Hussle: I mean it all depends on what the consumerís coming to the music for. If they coming to be entertained then yeah by all means, itís no different than Johnny Depp personifying Dillinger, John Dillinger in the new movie, itís just entertainment. But if the consumerís attached to you based on you, your story, and your reality, and they get shocked that this is not really your truth, then I think thatís where the problem exists at. I feel like you just gotta be yourself, itís very simple at the end of the day, itís what theyíve been telling you since kindergarten be yourself. I think thatís 100% the case with rap music. Iíd rather them hate me for being me than love me for being someone Iím not.

Dubcnn: Youíre buzzing really big right now. Howíd you build that buzz before the album even dropped?

Nipsey Hussle: Shit man, just we kept going at it. Every door done been slammed on me, everybody doubted on me, everybody shut the door on me, everybody told me that, ďOh this gangbanging music ainít gonna work, this is old, this has been done.Ē But at the end of the day I was just telling my truth. I wasnít making gangbang music, I wasnít making West Coast music, I was telling my story and telling my truth. And I think that the people, especially from my generation, they connected with it, and they still gonna connect with it Ďcause my mentality is fuck the middleman. Iím not gonna make a song for the label, or for radio. If I go broke off this shit I know how to get money, I been gettiní it before rap. So Iímma just keep it 100 with myself and really test the market and see if they ready for something thatís just 100% true. And I fee l like based on the reaction we getting now they ready for that.

Dubcnn: So I know you toured with Game on the LAX tour for the album. Howíd you link up with him?

Nipsey Hussle: I been runniní into Game throughout LA for a while. You know Game an LA dude he from Compton but we in the same general area so weíd run across each other in Hollywood, Iíd see him driving through the hood and just flag him down and chop it with him. And Game always kept it 100 and was just like, ďI heard your name, keep working on your craft. Your name is definitely in them circles, even at an infantile stage.Ē So when this shit really started blowing up Game was like, ďNip whatever you need from me itís a done deal.Ē So we got in the studio, we worked, we connected through my management team, Steve Lobel and Big U and we just put the shit together. Game was just a A1 dude, he knocked the record out for me, it turned into to a classic West Coast track ďThey RollĒ. Everybody that heard it loved it, the radio embraced it off of just a leak, we never surfaced the record. We had a cool relationship, real respect real. I respect dude and his story and what he did to get into the game, he seen what I was doing and kinda wanted to give me guidance in it, just from him being through it and going through it in the past. So me and Game connected and been A1 ever since, thatís my dude, and the whole Black Wall Street AR, Compton Menace, everybody. Those my niggas, beyond the rap shit. And they happen to be bloods niggas from Piru, and Iím from 60. So itís bigger than that, I respect them dudes as men.

Dubcnn: You talked to Game, you talked to some people that have already been through the music business. Are there any mistakes that you donít want to make in your career that youíve seen people make that youíre kinda trying to avoid?

Nipsey Hussle: I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is making commitments and giving they word from an uninformed perspective. What I mean by that is that, when you a new artist they wanna lock you in and make you agree to shit and make you give your word, but you doing it from an uninformed perspective. So I think thatís one of the biggest mistakes new artists make. Donít throw your word out there like a frisbee Ďcause niggas gonna hold you to it. Hurt they feelings off the top. Tell em, ďNah I canít make no move right now. Lemme find out about this shit.Ē Because you as a artists you gonna be so caught up doing music that you donít have time to really learn the business or talk to lawyers or understand whatís really in your best interest, to where if you make commitments and make decisions based on an uninformed perspective niggasíll hold you to that for the rest of your career. And itíll be a loyalty thing or, ďOh you went back on your word,Ē when really you made the decision from an uninformed point of view. And a lot of people see that that you vulnerable and take advantage of that or try to, to position theyself. So from labels to anybody, you just gotta be informed. And if you not informed donít make a decision. The offers still gonna be there, if you hot you hot, you goní definitely have motherfuckers knockiní at your door. So thatís the biggest thing I would try to avoid, throwing your word out there and not really knowing. From every aspect of the game, understand who holds the leverage, understand whatís in your best interest and make sure that your interests is being served in everything that you do.

Dubcnn: You know people out here on the West Coast are really feeling you. What are you trying to do get that same feeling around the rest of the country?

Nipsey Hussle: You know, shit, whatís good for the goose is good for the gander. If they loviní it out here they goní love it in Wisconsin, they goní love it in Chicago, they goní love it in Minnesota, Ďcause itís not just me preaching to the choir, ďOh Iím a West Coast dude I make West Coast music so the West Coast goní love me.Ē I think itís more or less, like I been saying, itís a real place it come from. Everybody got they truth in them, everybody has a level of realness in them, whether they operate from that or not is on them, but itís there in everybody I feel. So I feel like wherever you at itís not based on location or region or nothing like that, itís based on that place that exists in you. And I feel like if I keep creating from that place that itíll keep hitting people there. And thatís why I feel people keep coming to music in the first place, is to feel something.nged into such a mature and grown aura and thatís what ďAnniversaryĒ does to you.

Dubcnn: Are there any non West Coast people that you wanna work with or youíre working with?

Nipsey Hussle: Yeah, as of lately everybody is open to work and Iím on the same page. Anybody thatís great, thatís good at what they do, that got a passion for creating, big name or not, letís get in, letís do it. Iím gettingí ready to work with Yung LA. We connected, dude from Grand Hustle from Atlanta, he got a big movement down South, he got a big record. But I feel dude vibe, we seen each other he shook my hand like, ďHomie I fuck wití ya music.Ē ďLikewise my nigga letís get in.Ē So we goní do something. The nigga Drake, we probably do something together. He got a crazy buzz right now. He real fresh and new with the music he doing and thatís what I like most about the shit he doiní. You know all them young dudes at Young Money, we probably end up doing something together. And thereís a lot of dudes thatís up and coming, like a songwriter named Lady G she a female she work with 1500, she crazy, we gonna do something. DJ Toomp, Bangladesh, a lot of people man. When I came in I had 3 or 4 producers that I worked with, I did all my mixtape music off that, but now everybody excited and feel my music and what Iím doing so the doors is openiní and the possibilities is endless. But Iím open man, if you hot and you got some shit, letís get in lest do it, no question.

Dubcnn: Alright one more question before we wrap up. Whatís your thoughts on the Michael Jackson thing? Howíd that affect you?

Nipsey Hussle: I feel like, number one by his passing it was sad, Ďcause we grew up with Mike. Everybody feel like they grew up with Mike, like he was part of they family, cause he was in they living room, on they radios and they seen his whole progression. And on the other note people should kinda take responsibility in that, because people donít know the strain that they placed on Michael Jackson just by him being such a star and being in the sense a child. It was hard for him to find happiness probably just because it was hard to understand who was really phony and who was real and who was just around him for his money. I feel like people should take this situation and really pay attention to the effect of fame and the effect that everybody knowing you, the effect that that has on you. You donít have no private life. Itís very hard to tell whoís a real person and whoís sincerely about you. So I think at a point he was probably just fed up and tired of this shit and couldnít see no happiness and no trueness about nobody around him. So I feel like that took a toll on him eventually. But you know my condolences to his family, itís saddening to music, to just people in general. I seen his sister at the BET Awards, Janet and you could tell she was real disturbed about it. So I hope everybody just move past it and celebrate his life and his music.

Dubcnn: Weíre about to sign out, just tell us what do you have coming out, what are your plans, whenís the album coming out, all that good stuff.

Nipsey Hussle: I got the new mixtape, Bullets Ainít Got No Name Vol. 3, thatís coming out July 4th, thatís a classic. I donít throw that word around but Iím real proud of that mixtape, Iím getting ready to drop itís gonna straight to iTunes. The album come out Dec 22nd itís called South Central State of Mind, and we out here you feel me. I got a lot of shit coming. We got tours coming up, shows, movies coming up, obviously the Wrath of Cain, featuring me Ving Rhames and Gillie Da Kid, thatís goní be out 4th quarter 2009, same time my album drop. We workiní on another movie called Love Chronicles 2 with Terrence Howard and a couple other big artists. So we doiní thangs right now. I was on the outside lookiní in for a long time, so Iímma always stay humble and be very appreciative for everything I get but everythingís starting to pick up right now so itís lookiní good, just stay tuned. And Iím on the Twitter, yaíll can hit me on Twitter, Iíll hit back, itís right on my phone. I got the MySpace, obviously the Facebook, NipseyHussle.com, stay at it, itís a movement, Hussle Music.



Nipsey Hussle // Exclusive Video Interview // Dubcnn

Download The Video Interview: Windows Media
Download The Dubcnn Drop: Windows Media

Press Play to stream footage (Fast Connections Recommended)


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