With time divided between business and music, it’s natural the two strands of Nipsey’s DNA will intertwine, something like a double helix, to inform his next move; be it in the booth or the board room. The lessons learned in the corporate world are influencing his artistic output.
“I got an album concept called Exit Strategy, that might be one of my last ones,” he says. “It’s a term they use in business when you build companies. You create an exit strategy as you make a company. You don't wait till you're five years in it; you create a exit strategy as you make the company. So the exit strategy for a lot of companies is to go public, or to sell.”
Just as Victory Lap closed the chapter on his introduction, Nip already has a plan in place for closing the whole book.
“As an artist, as a brand, as a rapper, as a musician, you know you got a window and a lot of people, even an athlete; they don't have no exit strategy. It's just living in the false reality that it's going to be like this forever. From their lifestyle, the way they spend money, everything. I don't feel comfortable moving like that, so I have an exit strategy.”
“One of the most important things to know is when it's over. Even with a stock, with a business, whatever. It's not called quitting if you quit while you ahead. It's about being aware and being strategic enough to know that you got to get out the pool at some point. You got to put your clothes back on and dry off.”
In our current era, personality is driving culture. Individuals have used YouTube and Instagram to build their own platforms and acquire audience at large scale. Consumers are fatigued by brand messaging and are now driven by individuals. Brands have caught on and cultivate quirky personalities to grow their social media audiences.
The trend is not lost on Nipsey Hussle. His unique offering of good music, good investments and good intentions – such as prioritising investment in his own community – means he has earned not just fans, but a tribe of loyalists. Rap is one part of it, but drive, persistence and celebration of the hustler’s mentality is another. Hussle has become a Gary Vaynerchuk figure, but instead of a weird K-Swiss endorsement deal, Nip flies in Puma’s private jet.
For Nipsey, who around this time last year was proudly declaring “I take my time, and take my tribe / Every level that I crossed in this game,” the loyal fans are appreciated but come as no surprise. “It was about making sure that the moves that we made and the things that we did – from the music we put out to the business moves – represented the values of the brand,” he explains. “And staying true to that, as we continue to move forward, to put that at the front of what we do.”
“The Marathon is something everybody can apply to whatever they doing and aspiring to do, and can add value to their life. It's something they can bring back to their circle and make their circle better. I think that's what's at the core of what got people supporting and behind my movement,” he says. Gary Vee could never.
With a first-attempt Grammy nomination, a Puma endorsement deal and several business projects flourishing, Nip has a lot to be grateful for, but Neighborhood Nip is still most excited about the way his impact is felt in his own community.
“I've gotten it from young artists and young hustlers, like ‘Nip man, I was really inspired by this move you did and I got my own version of that, me and my team.’ That's what it's about. Adding something to the game that people can take from.”
“More than a lot of the things that we considered a success. I know in my heart that it’s a higher power and a higher value to what we can do. The times we do it right and it connects and it has that effect on people; that's really, really fulfilling.”