Nipsey Hussle, Deniro Farrar

When: Sun., Jan. 26 2014


L.A. wordsmith Nipsey Hussle grabbed headlines at Forbes magazine, hardly a bastion of hip-hop culture, for hawking his latest mixtape Crenshaw at $100 a pop. Although the download for the same music was free, Nipsey unloaded all of his c-note discs, claiming he had pioneered an industry paradigm shift. In truth, Hussle’s street-level capitalism was a mere marketing stunt, but the West Coast rapper had to do something to reinvigorate his career. Touted as the next Snoop Dogg, the former Crip gang member released his hard-hitting trio of Bullets Ain’t Got No Name tapes in 2008, only to see his career stalled in stillborn deals and label flim-flammery. Kudos to Crenshaw’s gimmicky release for grabbing limelight for Hussle, but the tape’s music is a mixed bag. In the past, Hussle’s barking, plain-spoken flow spotlighted the sociopolitical outrage and defiance of classic gangsta rap, while (mostly) eschewing the genre’s glorification of violence. Despite vintage soul highlights from guest rhymer 9th Wonder and firebrand flashes of yore, Hussle takes a smoothly serviceable, state-of-2013-mainstream-rap approach on Crenshaw. Nipsey’s jagged peaks of brilliance get smothered in his paean to commercial hustle and flow. (Pat Moran)

Price: $15-$100

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