In the last installment of the story about the role Trinidadian Dexter Browne played in the life of slain rapper Nipsey Hussle, guest contributor Rubadiri Victor looks at how Browne influenced the rapper and the time he spent with him.
During the period with Dexter Browne, Nipsey Hustle appeared on the following: The BV Boys Mix Tape (Sampler) with all the boys who were part of Butter Vision Nipsey, Cuzzy, Ralo, Steve Biz, J General, Evede, Phats Bossalini, Gooch, and K C. and Beats & Babes Vol 1 a DVD that was authored and jewel-cased (the first piece of official bar-coded home-created content from the streets).
It was a clash between two unlikely worlds, one of in-studio gang-boy beat-making and the other, a world of models, glamour, and celebrity.
Then came Shades of Butter Vol 1 a compilation culture-stream of models and landscape with songs and revolutionary talks by the boys. Before this the boys sold pirated DVDs on the streets. Now they sold stuff they themselves owned and created.
Then came a CD called F*** the Middleman which was a transition project. Butter Vision artists would do all kinds of mixtape projects in between.
One was called Crenshaw District which blew up big because of a track that Nipsey and Cuzzy did riding one of Jay-zs beats. Their crew blew all others away and the hood took notice.
The cover of the BV Boys Mix Tape Sampler
They had started Cuzzy Capones project Journey of a Thousand Miles but after a soul-searching session, the group decided to place all their energies into Nipseys solo debut mixtape. That was how the now legendary Slauson Boy Vol 1 was created. Recorded right there in Brownes annex with numerous collaborators.
The CD blew up and had the hood popping. People were playing it everywhere. Browne is on Track seven. When the CD was later republished, Brownes track was not there.
Nipsey would compile stuff he was working on and sell anthologies. One such was Fast Lane Youngsters which has his music and a video concert performance. Browne did the photography.
Browne said he taught Nipsey how to author his own DVDs and this was Nipseys first solo project. Browne still has all of this material.
They were all working on Slauson Boy Vol 2 when the keyboard mysteriously disappeared. Browne kept working with Nipsey and refers to their relationship this way: It was as if Tupac and Gordon Parks co-existed and plotted to overthrow the system together.
My wish for Nipsey was that he would remain outside of the gang and be their muse and poet, their scribe and defender to the world. But it was not to be. One day he came with the SlausonBoy tattoo and confessed to me that he got put on. It was a dark day for me. There are things you have to do to join... I am a non-judgmental observer in terms of the gang but there are things I cant condone. By then I had given him what I could. He was an adult. He had to make his decisions and stand the consequences.
Butter Visions mantra was "Undisturbed Culture". Because of this, Browne amassed a substantial archive on Nipsey and his crew.
Therere all kinds of interviews and stuff, but the things I love are these: Nipsey taught me a lot about basketball and I reciprocated with football/soccer. One day after getting trashed by him in basketball I challenged him to soccer and ran rings around him and his boys in the backyard, its on tape, he recalled.
I remember explaining the phenomenon of thin-slicing from the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. He would have me thin slice all the books I already read for him. I had to give him the gist of the book in one sentence. He was an avid reader but he wanted them thin slices. I thin sliced Blink itself, Digital Guerrilla Video, The Tipping Point and The Prophet for him. Theres video of the first time he was my photography assistant. He preferred to do shoots when I shot red skin models or actresses.," he said with a laugh.
Browne shot Nipseys first mixtape cover and inside artwork for SlausonBoy Volume 1 down on the BG Block.
I also shot the second version at Phatefx studios, he said. I went with Nipsey to buy his first set of rims for his Alpine. He was proud, he had the rims to go with the chain. We have the stills. The first time I saw him making music on the keyboard it was profound. I have it on tape. The first time he tasted a good Trini curry chicken. He loved curry and pelau! The first time he wandered into the sound booth with his writing pad, all is on tape. He said he was 'just feeling the ambiance'. Then theres the time I arranged for him and the other under-age BV Boys to get into the GRAND club (downtown LA) to see Cuzzy Capone perform with J211. All on tape.
Browne shot photos of manycelebs including Vanessa Williams
Browne said it was he who took Nipsey to Interscope Records to meet Kevin Black with a demo they prepared at Butter Vision after Nipsey insisted that he was signable and wanted to prove it despite their f*** the middleman slogan.
The guys at Interscope essentially said he needed to soften up the lyrics, hit the gym, put on some lean mass because he may be a heartthrob. They even suggested the use of a choreographer for him to pick up dance moves. He was not thrilled to say the least, but it made him understand the need to f*** the middlemen who did not understand our vision. Nipsey speaks about it on tape, he said.
Brownes archive does not only contain Nipsey and crew.
When Browne got to LA in 99 it was ground zero of the previous Golden Age of African-American Culture the rise of Hip Hop, young black Hollywood, the raw black comedians, and the transformation of R&B.
Browne shot portfolios, the design looks, and created images for a host of up-and-comers who would soon be international celebrities such as Gabrielle Union, Lisa Raye, John Singleton, Tyrese, Kat Williams, Flava Flav, Bone Thugs & Harmony, Tone Loc, Barack Obama, and Trinidadian Olympian Ato Boldon.
He has all these images as well as raw video and interviews of them on sets, discos, events, and more.
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