For die-hard fans and new followers alike, the death of Nipsey Hussle has resonated with us all on a profound level. His lyrics, whether hearing them for the first time or reciting them from memory, serve as a reminder of his community activism and as inspiration to live better lives. As Hussle’s Grammy-nominated debut album, Victory Lap, returns to the Billboard 200 at number two, here are some lyrics to reflect on:

1. “Last Time That I Checc’d” (feat. YG)

It was visionary, either I'm genius or you ni**as scary / Maybe it's both and this balance I deliver daily / For every ni**a in the streets tryna feed the babies / The single mamas workin' hard not to miss a payment / And dirty money get washed on royalty statements / Black owners in this game of powerful racists / Young n***as in the set that's doin' it makeshift / Out the garage is how you end up in charge / It's how you end up in penthouses, end up in cars / It's how you start off a curb server, end up a boss / It's how you win the whole thing and lift up a cigar / With sweat drippin' down your face 'cause the mission was hard

This verse right here gets me hype! It's a reminder, for the dreamers out there, that our vision can manifest, despite the obstacles we may face. Hussle speaks life into the personal and societal struggles faced by people of color in inner city neighborhoods across the United States, while also affirming our respective journeys. These lyrics, coupled with Hussle’s own achievements, is the real American dream.

2. “Dedication” (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

This ain’t entertainment, it’s for n***as on the slave ship / These songs just the spirituals I swam against them waves with / Ended up on shore to their amazement

One word that comes to mind when reflecting on Nipsey Hussle’s music and legacy is, resilience. The idea of resiliency is embodied throughout Hussle’s musical repertoire, but especially in this song. As Hussle taps into the plight of African Americans, the story of slavery is less about the systematic oppression, whose remnants still exist today, and more about the creative ways in which Black people have channeled their misfortune and created art. We, as African Americans, are often counted out and left behind. But we end up on shore, to their amazement, as we continue to rise above.

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3. “Blue Laces 2”

City council meetin', they got Hussle speakin' / Billion-dollar project bout to crack the cement / So, one of our investments had become strategic / Summer roll '18, man it's such a season / 'Bout to make more partners look like f**kin' geniuses / We was in the Regal, it was me and Steven / We done took a dream and turned it to a zenith / Anything I want and everything I needed / Gotta pace yourself, it's all about yo' breathin' / You can have it all, it's all about your reason / I done took my name and carved it in the cement

Nispey Hussle’s investment into the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles is one of his many notable contributions to his people. Through song, Hussle has habitually spoken wise words to his younger followers and peers about economic empowerment through business ownership. His profound advice on wax will continue to inspire us to be mogul-minded and independent.

4. “Payback”

I heard them say gang violence was a problem / And they think that more prisons is a step to resolve it / But most prisons mean the checks keep revolving / And it don't take a rocket scientist to see the conflict / You can't cover up the pain with fake progress / It's time they pay back a portion of the profit

Nipsey Hussle often painted vivid pictures of street gang life – the character it built and the pain it brought. With this personal understanding of gang life and violence, Hussle advocated for change and for young minds to see new opportunities for their lives. We saw this with his investment in co-working space and STEM center, Vector 90, as well as in the political consciousness of his lyricism. He shed light on many societal issues, including the prison-industrial complex, which reminded us to be critically aware.

5. “Bigger Than Life”

Life is what you make it, I hope you make a movement / Hope your opportunity survives the opportunist / Hopin' as you walk across the sand, you see my shoe print / And you follow 'til it change your life, it’s all an evolution / And I hope you find your passion 'cause I found mine in this music / But I hope it’s not material 'cause that’s all an illusion / And they all in collusion / This racist institution, double standard / Actin' like they not the reason we ruthless

Many of us reach a point in our lives, when we reflect on the impact we are making on this world. This conscientiousness was apparent for Nipsey Hussle, not only in his music, but in the wisdom he shared in select interviews and the voice he lifted on behalf of his community. He reminded us that our life’s purpose is larger than our current circumstances and current material desires. We were meant to put positive energy into this world, in whatever way that looked in our lives. He hoped that as we walked across the sand we’d see his shoe print, and I believe with the profound impact he has made on us all, his legacy will remain at the forefront of our memories. 

The marathon continues.