On Feb 15, West Coast rapper Nipsey Hussle celebrated the release of his long awaited Victory Lap album with a performance at The Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, CA, marking the next phase of the successful entrepreneur and artist’s career.
Previously opting to stay completely independent after a botched major label deal and organically grow his enterprise through initiatives like “proud to pay,” late last year the artist brokered a partnership between his label All Money In, LLC and Atlantic Records in a multi-album deal meant in his own words to give his music “the best chance to be heard and consumed on the highest level.”
At around 9:30pm, an hour and a half after doors open, fans got a glimpse of just that by watching Hussle emerge in a white PUMA sweatsuit from backstage to start his show, streamed exclusively by TIDAL. Taking the production value up a notch, the set featured moving projection lights that illuminated shades such as green, red, and blue over the crowd onto the wall. A full band courtesy of 1500 or Nothing, which Hussle shouted out several times, featured drums that made the show feel less like a typical regional rap performance and almost like a rock concert.
After previewing “Rap N—as” off of the album, Hussle asked the crowd, “Can I perform my new shit for y’all tonight?” to the crowd’s delight. Before launching into the rest of his new material, Hussle brought out his longtime friend J. Stone to rap “All Get Right” off of his Crenshaw project. Reminiscing on old times with Stone, Hussle joked, “We used to sell fake dope. I used to be this n—a engineer on Monday, and he would rap.” Eventually the rapper went off on the first of his many tangential moments of inspiration throughout the show, saying, “Staying down, hard work can go a long way”.
Hussle ran through cuts like Crenshaw’s “Checc Me Out” and “U See Us”. Before going into “Young N—a,” Hussle said to the crowd, “I dedicate this to any young n—a in the streets going through their process. Stay down.” To the surprise of attendees, Hussle brought out Puff Daddy, who is featured on the record and who hung around to watch more of the show after his appearance. Tried and true to his trademark lingo, Puff joked, “Take that, take that” and even his most recent favorite word, “love”.
About 40 minutes into the show, Hussle kept the gangsta party going with “Blue Laces”, a standout record from his project The Marathon. Moving images of broadcasted news clips, home tapes, and explosions made for a very pointed and poignant moment in the show. Basking in the energy of the house and how far his career has come, Hussle proudly proclaimed, “We also going to recognize the losses and sacrifices it take to get here,” before saying, “We achieve every goal we set out to achieve.” Appropriately following his statement, he launched into “Grindin All My Life.”
Keeping the hustling spirit going, Nipsey brought out No Pressure collaborator Bino Rideaux, and went into “Stucc on My Grind”. Sporting a bright pink-haired coif, the rapper and Hussle also performed the swaggerific “None of This.” A large VL monogram with red soundwaves played on the screen, adding a colorful touch to the performance.
“This next record dedicated to the people in the building who grind 7 days, don’t take no days off”, Hussle shoued before going into “Don’t Take No Days Off”. A guest featured on the record, Quincy White (who Hussle refers to as formerly known as Dub) emergeed from backstage to rap his part on the song. Sampling Beyonce’s “Dance for You”, the smooth, mid-tempo, introspective record provided a departure from the heavier street cuts and showed Hussle’s versatility as an artist. Subsequent performances of Slauson Boy 2’s “Ocean Views” and Victory Lap’s injected more melody into the show. Vintage baseball videos projected on the screen complemented the song’s overall metaphor.
Other notable moments in the show included a guest appearance from Sacramento rapper Mozzy, who assisted on “Ain’t Hard Enough.” Hussle embraced the northern Californian MC and noted it was all love, saying, “It’s easy for real n—as to link up and get to this check”. At another point in the show, old videos of Hussle in the studio rapping and even seen with longer hair made for a special nostalgic flair.
In addition, there was also a sentimental part in the show with Hussle paying homage to his late friend, “Fatts”. “I need y’all to light this bitch up for my n—a”, Hussle told the crowd as a picture of his business partner was projected onto the screen behind the stage. Speaking on the closeness of their bond, Hussle noted, “Stick together through this shit. That’s what we did”. An appearance from Marsha Ambrosius to perform “Real Big” off of his new project also gave a softer moment during his set.
Finishing off the night, Hussle brought out his daughter and YG for a performance of recent single “Last Time That I Checc’d”. YG, proud of his friend and frequent collaborator, said of his Victory Lap, “This coming from the city. We’ve been waiting on your album for so long and it’s finally here.”