March 31st, 2019- The day began somber as it was originally synonymous for the 24th anniversary of the death of Latina legend Selena Quintanilla. Sad to say that day got way worst. That Sunday afternoon Los Angeles rapper, Nipsey Hussle was fatally shot outside of his own clothing store in Hyde Park. Instagram kept fans updated on the shooting. As thousands of fans posted their prayers for recovery, it was announced on all media outlets of the 33-year-old's death. The shocking news left fans stunned as he leaves behind longtime girlfriend Lauren London and his two children. Hussle was more than a local lyricist. His intentions to revive Hip Hop, culture and history makes his death even more heartbreaking. To show honor to the man who represented Southern Los Angeles so well, I wanted to write a brief piece that showed the many hats that Hussle represented in the African American community.
Ermias Asghedom transformed his experience as a 60's gang member to a narrative tale as rapper Nipsey Hussle. Los Angeles rap was slowly losing its sting as the south dominated hip-hop in the early 2000's. Hussle; however, was at the forefront of the decade's new era of Rap. In 2005, The 'Slauson Boy' caught the attention of music lovers in 2008 with the releases of the two volume mix tapes 'Bullets Aint Got No Name'. Combining the lyricism and storytelling nature of an early South Central Ice Cube and the smooth enticing voice of Long Beach's Snoop Dog, Hussle reminded fans of the legacy of West Coast Hip-Hop. Year after year, and collab after collab- Hussle created iconic projects The Marathon, The Marathon Continues, Crenshaw and Mailbox Money. Surrounded by J-Cole, Freddie Gibbs, and Big Sean on the XXL's 2010 Freshman Class, Hussle stood out as the "Most Determined" and as a man dedicated to building a legacy for himself. The Militant Manifesto spoke his success to existence as he finally gained his first Grammy nomination for his last album Victory Lap. Even though he did not take home the big reward of the night, he stole the show by cementing his legacy.
"Invest in assets, not liabilities", a young Hussle said eagerly to a reporter on what he would do with his future profits. Hussle though openly and freely about being an African American male who knows his worth. After signing to Epic Records in 2008, Hussle learned about the guttering truth of an agency signed artist. Between challenging an artist's persona and slowing down their process due to costs and over signing talents-the industry has no problem leaving their performers high and dry. Hussle ended his deal in 2010, and created his own label All Money In. This was the first step to his entrepreneurial career. As a sufficient self-starter, Hussle moved differently than other rappers. Following after Jay-Z's creation of Tidal, Hussle regained interest in owning his own label and pricing his own masters. In doing so he charged one of his mix tapes for $100 (which Jay-Z purchased all of the copies). Other ventures that the rapper took interest in is fashion. In 2017, he opened his own clothing shop Marathon Clothing with Steve Careless and Karen Civil. In this shop he innovated the "Smart Shop" which fans can shop for one of kind clothing that syncs to Hussle's music purchases. Thus maximizing his ability to connect to his audience directly.
Speaking of connecting to fans, the Marathon Man was entirely for the people. Though fame and fortune came to Hussle, he never lost sight of his social agendas such as feeding the homeless, donating funds to community programs, and providing clothes and shoes for the less fortunate. Believing in teaching a man how to fish, Hussle's philanthropy style taught the community on how to profit off of themselves. His political awareness also encouraged youth to go out and vote with his YG collab "F*** Donald Trump. Hussle's latest work of activism was creating a documentary on the late Dr. Sebi. Sebi was a Hounduran herbalist and spiritualist who claimed to find a cure for Aids. In doing so however, the research was never shared to the world as the government silenced the man. Hussle was going to display the 1985 trial and prove to the world that anything is possible with hard work and education.
Los Angeles Legend
There are two faults within the rap community: First, many celebs who started out in the hood rarely return and second, when artists become famous they put on a pair of goggles that blinds them from what is going on in their community. Hussle was always both aware and proud of his roots. Starting out as a Rolling 60's gang member, Hussle acknowledged what he saw and how he can transform the history of LA gang violence. One way Hussle did this was by realizing that the reason so many children get involved in gangs is because the lack of educational resources and activities in the area. To "redefine what the streets expect" Hussle created several programs: The Too Big To Fail, a STEM center and co-working space in Crenshaw and the Marathon Movement, a program to donate back to the youth of Crenshaw. Hussle was also invested in buying back the community with his growing projects to refurbish Destination Crenshaw Arts District.
Though the world lost Nipsey Hussle, Los Angeles grieved a little bit more as we lost a father, a uncle and even big homie. We may have lost the man, but we can never lose his message. Thank you Hussle for all you have done and we will continue to keep your legacy alive.