The Grammys can be tone-deaf about a lot of things — most things — but the show got at least one thing mostly right last night. The all-star tribute to the late LA rap hero Nipsey Hussle was a nicely executed moment of catharsis. Nipsey was murdered last year at the age of 33, and his story has a special resonance in Los Angeles, the city that hosted the awards last night. Before John Legend, DJ Khaled, YG, and Kirk Franklin emerged to pay their respects, two friends of Nipsey performed a new song in his honor. Today, the studio version of that song is out in the world.
Meek Mill, a Nipsey Hussle contemporary, got together with the newly minted rap star Roddy Ricch, a Nipsey protege, to record “Letter To Nipsey,” the song that they debuted last night. There’s a long tradition of rap songs dedicated to dead peers, many of which are overwhelmingly popular. “Letter To Nipsey” goes for heartfelt intensity rather than pop sweep. It’s a worthy entry into that canon.
On the track, Meek vents passionately about the loss of his friend: “I ain’t finna say it like I’m your main homie/ But when we lost you it really put some pain on me/ Got me scared to go outside without that flame on me.” Roddy Ricch, who isn’t really a passionate presence, simply sing-raps about how numb he was when he got the news. He also sings the hook. Listen to the track below.