Now I told myself after the first sample spotlight that I wouldn’t do another rap song for a while seeing as when many people criticize sampling, it’s almost exclusively directed toward rap music. With this series I wanted to show the art of sampling in every genre. However, today’s sample is too appropriate to as for the next few days I’m going to posting a marathon (remember that) of articles because well, frankly I’ve been slipping lately. Typically a writer wouldn’t admit when they suck, but if you or I wanted the typical we wouldn’t be on this site. So to the readers I just want to apologize for slacking lately. I suck.
Today’s sample spotlight artist is west coast rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Now to be honest, I’ve been kind of up this guy’s ass lately. I haven’t gone more than one day without listening to his music and the guy is currently kind of my role model. This guy started out just another LA gang member and through straight hard work, and yes, a solid hussle this unsigned (for now, right Rick Ross?) rapper’s net worth is currently almost two times J. Cole’s, which who if you keep in mind is a signed artist with a platinum single and gold album, says a lot about Nipsey’s talent and drive.
On his fourth mixtape, The Marathon (ain’t I clever?), Nipsey stepped up his bars and production to release a classic piece of music. The mixtape is full of Nipsey’s now trademark “Hustle rap” which is hard motivating lyrics urging he listener to get his or her own grind and make something of themselves. Of course many rappers have used this concept before Nipsey, but very few, if any, can paint a picture as vivid as Nipsey can.
The track in question, “Dreamin'” is in part a departure from the “hustle hard” motif and more so about the outcome of all of the hard work. With creative freedom, no contracts, world tours, money, cars, and women galore, Nipsey is living the life even signed artists dream of.
The sample for the song is Vanessa Williams’ 1987 hit single “Dreamin’.”
From the beginning, the song utilizes the chorus from Williams:
“How to put it together.
How to say it right.”
What was originally meant to highlight the indescribable feeling the person you love gives you, is now flipped to allude to the immeasurable love Nipsey has for the life he’s living. After that, the remainder of the smooth eighties sample plays out for a few seconds before being expertly chopped up to form an upbeat instrumental for Nipsey to rhyme over.
Right off the bat Nipsey takes you on a trip with lyrics like:
“Follow my steps and you’ll see what I’m bout,I keep the money coming in and never going out,
She wanna fuck the fly nigga that you heard about, I beat that pussy up until it’s watered down,
She call me once a day to see if I’m around, but nine times out of ten I’m probably out of town,
I told you, “Ease up.” You more persistent now. I’m frontin’ though, cuz if you stopped I’d probably miss the sound.”
I love these lyrics because, while for the most part, they’re totally typical of rap machismo, that ending line shows that human side of Nipsey. Of course he’s rich, never around, and not looking for a relationship, but ultimately it’s better to be frustrated by constant badgering from his woman than to never hear from her at all.
The second really hits me as it would anyone who knows Los Angeles. Angelinos everywhere can perfectly picture Nipsey lyrics:
“Now I was driving down Wilshire, just left the label. Lit my swisher sweet and we made a left on Rodeo.
Life is beautiful if I might say so. I live it unrestricted, there ain’t a place that I can’t go.”
At 2:05, a little too soon in my opinion, Nipsey’s masterfully constructed “Dreamin'” comes to a close with the line I feel personally defines Nipsey as an artist:
“Without no pieces, I can show you how to build a dream.”