Limo Tint the V-12: On Nipsey Hussle’s “Racks in the Middle”

Will Hagle goes in on the Hit Boy and Roddy Ricch-assisted new single from the Crenshaw rapper.
By    March 5, 2019

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Will Hagle knew that shit was over from the day he dropped his presale.

Roddy Ricch wouldn’t have been able to sing the triumphant, celebratory words on the hook of “Racks In The Middle” if he never made his dark, grim “Die Young.” Despite that track’s foreboding tone, it was infectious enough to make the Compton rapper achieve the success that he so desired. Supplying this hook on Nipsey Hussle’s new song then, makes sense as his logical next step.

He sings: “I was ridin around in the V12 with the racks in the middle / Had to pray to God they’d let my dog out the kennel / When you get it straight out the mud you can’t imagine this shit / I’ve been pulling up in the drop tops with the baddest bitches.

Roddy Ricch punctuates each line with a hummed, assertive adlib: “mmhmm hmm.” This unique method of blending voice to rhythm, of saying a lot while saying nothing at all, is what distinguishes Roddy Ricch from his peers. He’s like Future but more futuristic, with clear-headed and focused delivery.

Watching Roddy Ricch recite these “mmhmms” amidst a backdrop that suggests he’s living the life he’s talking about is inspirational. Nipsey Hussle rapping in tracksuits that match his private jet only adds to the aesthetic. Everyone should be grateful that Roddy Ricch didn’t die young before getting in the studio with Nipsey and Hit Boy.

By adding Roddy Ricch to the song and video, Nipsey once again proves he has a gift for elevating those around him. Hit-Boy is also on the track. Nipsey toasts champagne with his beaming grandmother aboard the jet. He also framed the video around visiting the grave of his deceased friend, Stephen Jiles Donelson.

Like Roddy Ricch did on “Die Young,” Nipsey manages to ease the weight of his downtrodden content through positive imagery and a carefree, matter-of-fact attitude. Nipsey talks about emotional subjects without ever revealing too much emotion. Roddy Ricch exposes unparalleled aspects of the emotional spectrum every time he opens his mouth. Hit-Boy is also on the track.

Grammys might be meaningless, but Nipsey Hussle deserved his nomination. Victory Lap was, at the time, the culmination of a career of dedicated artistic evolution. It was rooted in Nipsey’s hometown, but appealed to a broader audience.

If “Racks In The Middle” is the next song after the Grammys that Nipsey wants the world to hear, then people who don’t think the Grammys are meaningless will be lucky to hear Roddy Ricch. For an artist whose career explodes following the undisputed greatness of one hit track, the path forward is always tenuous and uncertain. The same could be said about an artist who finally just received a Grammy nod. “Racks In The Middle” is the perfect follow up to both of those things.

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