by Tef Poe
On Saturday, January 18, I'll be performing on the same bill as the nefarious Nipsey Hussle.
The concert will be held at Pop's Nightclub, right across the bridge in Sauget. This is Nipsey Hussle's first ever concert in St. Louis, as well as my very first time performing at Pop's. This will be an electrifying night for hip-hop in STL: One of the brightest new stars of the genre will be in our city. I am honored by the fact that one of my favorite rappers will be in St. Louis this weekend, and even more privileged to be a part of the bill as an official performer.
Nipsey's career is on the incline at the moment, and he did it the old-fashioned, independent way. It feels good to witness an artist I've respected for many years claw his way out of the underground circuit. Most music fans in our area are hype-beast or just late and out of touch, so I decided to supply the cheat codes and give you a few reasons to check out this concert. (Don't misconstrue this as self-promotion -- you would have seen this article regardless of if I was put on this show.)
10. He's a trendsetter, not a follower. When every new gangster rapper to hit the Internet started repping the red flag, Nipsey came out and stayed true to his blue roots. For the sake of commercialism he could've easily turned down on his gang-life origins. Now, I'm not endorsing gang banging; I'm simply saying be yourself at all costs. That's what Nipsey Hussle staying true to his creed is all about. He's an individual, and he intends to set himself apart from masses.
9.West Coast rap is back, and he's at the forefront of the movement. Dom Kennedy and Kendrick Lamar have helped cement the fact that the left coast is here again to stay for a while. Nipsey is one of the primary players in the current West Coast movement. He has been stamped by the biggest names and has worked with the likes of Snoop, the Doggfather himself. In fact, many hip-hop critics have compared him to Snoop in the early stages of his career.
8. The time is right, right now. For many years I've prayed someone in St. Louis would take the leap of faith and book this guy. A few years ago we were uncertain as to whether or not he could actually draw fans in this market. Saturday, January 18, is his first time performing in here. The show is the buzz of the hip-hop community right now and rightfully so. In a few years he'll likely be an icon, and anyone in attendance at this show will have the opportunity to say they saw a legend in the making, live in action at his first ever appearance in our city. This could materialize into one those moments you talk about among your friends ten years from now.
7. He makes lifestyle music similar to Jay-Z in the '90s. This is the type of music that makes you feel alive and inspired. He's the best hustler-turned-rapper in the business right now. Aspiring indie MCs could learn a thing or two from seeing a rapper of this caliber in the flesh. This is a classic rags-to-riches story unfolding right in front of our eyes. His music carries the same inspirational energy as Jeezy in his "Trap or Die" phase. Young Nipsey's music is sprinkled with heavy content about the hustler's lifestyle, yet from a far more inspiring angle than the average rapper. My favorite Nipsey line simply reads, "Smile for us when you see us drive foreigns."
6. He's a man of conviction. In an era where plenty of so-called gangster rappers have decided to use music as a vehicle to spread vicious lies, it's refreshing to encounter an MC who really lived it, yet has principles and morals attached to his street-life persona. Nipsey's music gives us all sides of the story. By combining the pros and cons he gives us the opportunity to educate and entertain ourselves at once. His music is unique because he doesn't shy away from the tales of his baller lifestyle, while still exposing the depths of his inner demons.
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5. Nearly every big-name record exec in the industry has attempted to sign him. His resume is quite impressive, but he has chosen to walk the path less traveled and remain indie. In today's record industry young musicians don't seem to believe in ownership. He owns everything his name touches, and his campaign is all about eliminating the middleman. There's no high-powered major label backing his buzz. This is the evolved version of Too Short selling albums out the trunk, on a worldwide level.
4. He's a relic from the '90s. For me personally, he was the first new-school West Coast rapper to give me the same feel as vintage Ice Cube. We all know right now the freshest coast in hip-hop is the West; Nipsey was one of the leaders of the resurgence. There have been many attempts to reclaim the throne, but the ingredients didn't feel right. The fans want the golden-era feel of the '90s with the fresh appeal of today's music. In other words, all we ever wanted was new music that felt just as good as the old-school music. Nipsey delivers.
3. He's proud to defend his West Coast brethren at all costs. We all know the world was turned upside-down when Kendrick Lamar dropped his debut project Good Kid, MAAD City. More than a few rap critics heralded this as one of the most important and critically acclaimed bodies of music hip-hop had seen in a while. A former Badboy Records artist named Shyne (the guy who went to jail for the club shooting incident involving J.Lo and Diddy several years ago) released a statement via Twitter claiming the album sucked. Shyne made this a full-time campaign while Nipsey came to K. Dot's defense via Twitter by simply stating, "Somebody tell Shyne his West Coast pass is revoked." Nipsey had nothing to do with Shyne's beef with Kendrick, but he defended his fellow West Coast MC nonetheless.
2. This was not a overnight success story. He's toured overseas, and the gospel of Hussle has reached as far as Japan. But all true Nipsey Hussle fans know this process took time and dedication. Consistency is the key to his success; his "Marathon" mixtape series is a fan favorite and was key in helping him develop the fanbase he currently has. There were a few MCs from his introductory class that have come and gone, but Nipsey's grind has been relentlessly innovative and the quality of his music has consistently increased. His production is unpredictable, and his flow often offers so much real talk it's hard to forget.
1. He's a marketing genius. His recent mixtape, Crenshaw, was stocked on shelves and priced at $100. Only 1,000 first-edition copies were available for purchase. The $100 price tag also came with a free concert ticket.
In his hometown, people were camped outside of the retail stores, sleeping overnight. Limited copies of the LP eventually sold out. Jay-Z allegedly paid $10,000 for 100 copies. On Hussle's Instagram he posted a picture of a wire transfer from "S. Carter Enterprises." On October 9 a photo of 100 copies of "Crenshaw" was posted on Hov's Life + Times website. So, if true, Nipsey got $10,000 from Jay-Z AND all of that free publicity -- a true baller move indeed.
Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis city. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His project The Hero Killer was released on January 21 and will be followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For the Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe. Get The Hero Killer here.
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