*(Via GQ) – The Judas and the Black Messiah soundtrack (out today alongside the film), marks a momentous occasion. Beyond featuring a stacked roster of artists varying from H.E.R. to Masaego to Pooh Shiesty, with the ubiquitous Hit-Boy as executive producer, the album boasts a long-awaited, albeit posthumous collaboration between the late rapper Nipsey Hussle and Jay-Z.
New Jay verses are always an event; it’s always a gift to hear unreleased Nipsey music. But “What It Feels Like” is extra special, a meeting between the Greatest Rapper Of All Time and one of his most electric would-be successors, whose tragic murder outside of his Slauson Avenue store in Los Angeles still reverberates throughout the culture. (March will mark two years since Hussle was killed.)
The song, produced by duo Mike & Keys, with co-production from Larrance Dopson and Marz, is the culmination of a years-long bond of mutual respect and mentorship between Jay and Hussle that goes as far back as 2013, before they actually met— which is also when this track originated.
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So how did “What It Feels Like” sit in a vault for almost eight years? “To be honest with you, we thought Nipsey really didn’t like that song at first,” Mike laughs. At the time, Hussle was still coming up and presented a bold but risky marketing plan to sell hard copies of his free mixtape Crenshaw for $100, a venture that put him on Jay’s radar, who showed his support by purchasing 100 copies. Shared principles of self-sufficiency, entrepreneurship and financial independence led to Nipsey signing with Roc Nation, and by 2018, when he released his Grammy-nominated debut album Victory Lap, Jay had clearly gravitated towards him as both a protege and a peer.
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— GQ Magazine (@GQMagazine) February 12, 2021
Judas and The Black Messiah is available now in theaters and on HBO Max.
Judas and The Black Messiah: The Inspired Album now streaming.