When I published my April 6, 2021 exposé detailing the hidden mentorship of legendary rapper and radical ghetto philanthropist Nipsey Hussle by Howard-educated Trinidadian civil-engineer and digital revolutionary Dexter Browne, little did I know that this revelation of Dexter’s role in Nipsey’s life would meet with such stubborn resistance from the powers that be.

The fact of Dexter’s pivotal role in Nipsey’s life was first publicly unearthed in Hip Hop writer Rob Kenner’s seminal Nipsey biography The Marathon Don’t Stop published in March 23, 2021. For many readers, the portion of the book about Dexter’s mentoring of Nipsey and his crew from the Rolling 60s was the most extraordinary take away from an absorbing bio. The details of the extensive mentorship of Nipsey and the surrogate-father role that Dexter played in his life- and the fact that many of the core parts of Nipsey’s ideology, catch phrases, and even earlier recordings came from Dexter and the time spent under him- was a shock to many.

The surprise many felt on hearing about Dexter was not an accident. In the official stories told about Nipsey for the last ten years the presence of Dexter had been completely consciously erased. The 7 years of Dexter’s transformation of the lives of these boys from Crenshaw had been over-written with numerous fictions. Albums recorded under Dexter’s Buttervision label and recorded under his roof with his equipment were attributed to others. Other characters emerged claiming to be Nipsey’s mentors and critical partners at the time. The almost 5 years that Nipsey spent under Dexter’s roof- he was miraculously said to be elsewhere. Nipsey was surgically cut and pasted off any page featuring Dexter.


It would seem that to many many people the existence of Dexter Browne and his role in Nipsey’s life was a very very inconvenient truth…

The revolutionary aspects of Nipsey’s approach to music, digital culture, Black ownership and self-gentrification, and the core Maroon ideology of ‘Fuck the Middleman’ ALL came from Dexter Browne but have been completely re-attributed to Nipsey and by some strange osmosis to the gang culture of LA. The fly in the ointment about this sleight of hand is the fact that Dexter- a photographer and filmmaker who was also playing a pivotal role in the emergence of late 1990s Golden Age Black American culture by building portfolios for stars on the rise like Gabrielle Union and others – recorded everything he did extensively. The result is a massive archive of music by Nipsey and his team along with thousands of pictures and hundreds of hours of footage of that entire period of mentorship. Alongside that is an incredible multi-media document of ground-zero of one of African-America‘s cultural Golden Ages, with photographs and footage of literally hundreds of Black America’s Hollywood, sporting, cultural and political heroes and elites in relaxed moments and in professionally manicured glory as they rose out of obscurity into global celebrity.

Subsequent to Rob Kenner’s book release, price speculation and offers began to come in on the massive archive that Dexter Browne owns- a treasure trove of media invaluable to understanding the development of one of the most important heroes of modern Black Culture and Hip Hop history- but also priceless for its detailed documentation of a pantheon of now global Black-American superstars at the base of their climb- and others like funk-master Rick James in their twilight… But even the ‘bidding wars’ on Dexter’s archive revealed much about ‘the culture’ and the wrestle over the narrative of Nipsey Hussle’s Legacy: radical and foreign media groups were bidding high figures and seemed to understand the archive’s phenomenal importance- however mainstream Hollywood media and industry players continued to pretend that Dexter and his archive — and by extension his relationship with Nipsey himself — were not that important or valuable and fringe to Nipsey’s narrative…

Of course nothing can be further from the truth.

Yes, Nipsey Hussle was a brilliant youth before Dexter met him and already profoundly different than the boys around him. But he also was raw, and- like many of the youths from his neighbourhood- earmarked for destruction. He had just been expelled from school and was faced with life-changing decisions about what to do with his immense talent. He could descend fully into LA gang culture, which would lead to the deaths and incarceration of many of his peers- or he could try to independently find the resources to nurture his dreams in an environment that provided absolutely nothing of the sort to any working class Black youth from LA. As fate would have it, Nipsey would not have to make any of those decisions, he instead met Dexter, who provided him with every single technical resource he could ever dream of, but, more importantly, Dexter gave him the most important and precious gift of all: Time…

Dexter immediately saw something different and promising in the youth and took him under his wing. The fact that Nipsey looked exactly like Dexter’s immediate family may also have something to do with Dexter’s almost instinctual adoption of him as a surrogate son. For the next 7 years Nipsey, Ralo, Cuzzy, and a select group of boys did not want for resources- they had computers, recording equipment, cameras- and access. Industry stars and starlets were all around them at Buttervision studios. But more importantly they had a space away from the destructive gang culture that formed the backdrop to their lives. Dexter’s Buttervision studio and his house were safe spaces and a gangland neutral zone. The use of the space and equipment came with a caveat, they had to listen to Dexter preach Black revolutionary thought and had to sit at the feet of his radical ideas of digital revolution and the building of New Black Wealth by creating and owning the IP of undisturbed digital Black Culture and reinvesting that wealth back into Black Communities. He called it ‘Fuck the Middleman’. Sound familiar?

Nipsey and Dexter were almost inseparable for the next half a decade. Whilst all around him his peers were dying in the mean streets of LA, Nipsey was living, being mentored, and living a life of cultural privilege surrounded by books that Dexter would thin slice for him, and rubbing up against models and upcoming stars and starlets in Dexter’s Butter Vision studios.

The issue of Dexter’s continuing erasure from the official narrative is distressing for a number of reasons. There is a continuing drive to divide the African diaspora by pitting African-Americans against Caribbeans, and both against the Black British- and Continental Africans against all. This must be resisted at all cost. Such artificial divisions only serve tyranny. The only viable future for Black People worldwide is Pan-African.

Writing Dexter out of history also devalues the role of Positive Male Mentorship, especially in the lives of Black Boys. It also removes a possible icon of Positive Black Masculinity from the pantheon. Dexter’s intervention in the lives of the gang members- as first a non-judgemental observer which enabled him to gain trust and document them from inside, secondly as a friend, father, and mentor, and thirdly as an alchemist, taking lead and turning it into gold- testifies to the transformational Power of Strong Black Men and Fathers- whether they be blood or surrogate.

Even more critically, there is a White Supremist mainstream American narrative that for decades has been forcibly trying to sell Black ‘gang culture’ as THE only gateway to Black Genius, Black Relevance, Black Authenticity, and Black Manhood. There are many who have an investment in saying that Nipsey’s genius was due to ‘gang-culture’. That by some strange spiritual osmosis Black gang-culture transformed Nipsey into a demi-god. On the contrary it was Black gang-culture that got Nipsey killed… Black Radical Thought gave Nipsey life! Nipsey Hussle is a new modern patron saint of 21st century Golden Age Black-American culture. He represents a seismic shift in the narrative around Hip Hop and Black working class culture and cultural possibilities by his radical community-transforming ideologies and strategies. The Truth is that the thing that transformed Nipsey and equipped him to become the force of nature that he became was not ‘gangsta culture’ but an intervention by a mentor who himself was formed by a magical Caribbean culture in Trinidad and Tobago and radicalized by a historic Reparation institution in Howard University. The truth is that there would be no Nipsey Hussle without Dexter Browne. Not the Nipsey Hussle we came to know.

There are a number of high profile Nipsey Hussle biopics and more in the works. One was acquired for a price tag “in the high eight figures.” It will be interesting to see how they treat with ‘the missing 7 years’ of Nipsey’s life and the formation of his ideologies and ideas- and where they would say his early catalogue came from. And how those stories square with the actual archive that exists of those years!

I believe that the battle over the integrity of Nipsey’s biography and his formation is a transformative battle over the future of Black Culture and its emancipation from the narrative of the Gangsta as the Muse for the modern Black Youth, Black Streets, Black Maleness, Black Authenticity, and mainstream global Black Life. I believe that Nipsey Hussle’s appeal lies in his radical ideas and programmes to transform Black communities and retain Black Wealth. The roots and text of that beautiful radicalism did not come from gang culture- it came from other deep-rooted ancestral streams of Black Radical Thought that his mentor Dexter Browne matriculated in: the New World African idea of Maroonage or escaping the plantation; the Caribbean Marcus Garveyite idea of Pan-African economic and cultural independence from the West; radical Black Power thought as passed down from Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas and Toussaint L’Ouverture, further codified by thinkers like W E Du Bois and James Baldwin, and exemplified by Kwame Ture (formerly Stokley Carmichael of Trinidad) and Malcolm X. The other antecedents for Nipsey’s ideas which he got from Dexter come from radical ideas of digital cultural revolution as proposed by many counter-culture theorists….

The continued attempt to erase Dexter Browne’s role in the formation of Nipsey Hussle and to disappear and undervalue his incredible digital archive of mentorship and by extension his wider archive documenting the creation of 90s Golden Age Black-American Culture at ground level, is an attempt to keep Black Culture one-dimensional and to keep it tethered to self-destructive tendencies and the false god of the Gangsta as the only modern Black culture-hero. That fraudulence only benefits White Supremacy, the status quo, and agendas for Black genocide.

As for Dexter Browne? He continues to be a mentor and a coach. Most recently Browne coached Trinidad & Tobago Olympic swimmer Dylan Carter to a historic silver medal performance at the FINA World Short Course (25 metres) Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi on 20 December 2021. Carter’s time in the 50m Butterfly final makes him the sixth fastest swimmer of all-time in the event. Browne had only taken on coaching Carter just 1½ months before. In that time he re-engineered the swimmer’s stroke and shaved a second off his time getting him into the upper echelons of world swimmers- beating world record holders! Those kinds of gains at elite level are almost unheard of. Browne already has multiple offers to coach teams and swimmers internationally.

“There were a lot of coaches trying to figure out what happened in that period of time between the first and second round that could account for him dropping a full second in the 100 freestyle and setting a new national record in the 50 butterfly and posting his best time in the 50 freestyle of 21.1 seconds,” said Dexter. “We understood that we did not have a world of time so one of the things that can make a big difference even in a short space of time is stroke mechanics. If you can find a way to reduce drag and increase propulsion, particularly at an elite level, then it is a great opportunity… So, we found ways, myself as a coach, engineer and artist, to enhance a lot of what he did in a way that it spoke to the tenets of cadence, repetition, and sprints. I do have a belief that we in this region have a propensity for cadence and it shows up in our track athletes and cyclists and certainly in our swimmers… I have spent a lot of time tooling a lot of young swimmers to enhance their sprint potential.” Spoken like a true elite coach.

Dexter was formerly: a historic swimmer and youngest head coach at Howard University during its most winningest period; a T&T national swim coach during its most productive period at regional level; and is head coach at the Flying Fish Swim Club — one of Trinidad’s historic swim clubs — during a period where they are winning many international swimming scholarships. Coaching and mentorship at an elite level are second nature to Browne, as is his radicalism and artistic vision. The latter will be on full display in a series of photographic books soon to be released by Dexter and this author.

Despite being a professional photographer at an elite level for more than 2 decades Dexter has never published his work nor publicized his brand. This will change in 2022 with plans to release four (4) books that simultaneously explore his photography and philosophies. The books run the gamut, from one chronicling the life of the fishing village of Carenage that both he and this author have grown up in and around- to another that is a comprehensive photographic overview of Dexter’s time in LA which includes many never-seen-before images of Nipsey and his crew and photographs of modern Black American global celebrities when they were still in the infancy of their rise. These books will be released starting in January 2022.

Hopefully, sometime inside of the tumult of all of those releases, the gatekeepers will begin to tell the Truth about Nipsey and Dexter, and emancipate Nipsey’s Legacy from its one dimensionality into the full infinity of its radical transformative possibilities.

Swimmer Dylan Carter with the Nipsey bio

Below watch a video of Nipsey and the boys in the safe haven of Dexter’s house and Buttervision studios…

Read the original article on Dexter Browne, Nipsey Hussle and the Gangs of L.A. here.

© 2021, Rubadiri Victor. All Rights Reserved.

Posted on December 28, 2021, in President's Blog and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. About Time truth came out. I was there I still know cuzee &!Rolo’s phone number Can used to go on 59 and Rimpaul to teach Dexter’s wife Martial Arts and work with those boys , that Dexter spent so much time raising. We built the music studio in the backyard for them to record and I used to play keyboards Dexters also one of rick James best friend before he died. Are used to have Ferraris and limousines in Mercedes pulling up to his house to do photo shoots Erm would come like a little kid with a blunt wrap.

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