When asked if he aims to sign to a label in order to release his upcoming debut, tentatively titled Victory Lap as of now, Hussle preferenced an independent model as an opportunity to partner with another label or artist. “We gonna always operate as an independent ‘cause I feel like in 2014 you gotta be self-sufficient,” he said. “We lookin’ for partnerships. We’re not looking for anything less than a true partnership. Labels know what we need, we done had the talks. Right now we on this Crenshaw tour, we focused on giving great shows every city we hit. Recording Victory Lap, that’s the debut album, that’s gonna come out this year. Platforming artists on the label, Cobby Supreme, J Stone, Rimpau, BH, Pacman. And just keeping our word, what we said we was gonna do.”
Hussle, who notably released his Crenshaw mixtape in October as a hundred dollar physical mixtape before dropping it for free digitally, also described plans to continue releasing music and merchandise under the same branded #Proud2Pay campaign.
“The #Proud2Pay campaign, it’s not gonna stop with Crenshaw,” Hussle said. “We gonna focus on giving people products that you could experience for free, digitally, but if you want physical versions, it’ll be an enhanced version of the product that’ll come with an experience. We gonna continue to release music, clothing, novelty items like money counters and lighters, my business partner, Jorge Peniche, we selling Crenshaw lighters, we selling Crenshaw beanies. The products that we give to the public will fall under the #Proud2Pay campaign. Victory Lap will have a creative release strategy…it’s not going to be the same as Crenshaw but it’s gonna definitely fall under the #Proud2Play campaign.”
The physical mixtape release of Crenshaw, which was apparently in an edition of 1,000 copies, reportedly sold out in less than 24 hours, allegedly netting the rapper a quick $100,000. Besides supporting fans, many of whom lined up at a retail location in Los Angeles to buy the mixtape in person, Jay Z bought 100 copies.
Describing the motivation behind the campaign, Hussle has frequently alluded to the book Contagious, by Jonah Berger, as the inspiration behind the move.
“One of the examples in the book was a cheesesteak restaurant in Philadelphia called Barclays,” Nipsey said. “And dude made a hundred dollar cheesesteak for a couple reasons. It ended up garnering a lot of attention, getting a lot of notable people to talk about it and ended up bringing a lot attention to his restaurant. I read that story and got inspired. I’m not in the restaurant business, I’m in the entertainment and music business. I hadn’t seen that done yet, so I think it was just inspiring to me to be the first one to do that in music. And I was like, ‘let’s try it out, let’s see how it work.’ And also, I knew how eager my following was to support me. I’ve been dropping free projects since I came out. I know they was waiting on an opportunity to reciprocate what they been getting from my music.”
In October, HipHopDX spoke exclusively with Jonah Berger about Nipsey Hussle’s Contagious-derived campaign. “It’s pretty dope,” he said. “I wrote the book to help people take advantage of the cheapest and most effective marketing tool out there, and shout out to Nipsey for how he’s run with the ideas. Hopefully other people will do the same.”