It’s with admiration, grief, hope, and sincerity that I decided to write about the late Ermias Asghedom, better known as Nipsey Hussle, who recently lost his life on March 31, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. After researching, reading, and watching interviews of the literally self-made independent Grammy-nominated West Coast artist, I could see why the impact of his passing is being so extensively felt on so many levels beyond music. There was so much more to this young man than met the eye. He defied so many odds, overcame so many obstacles in his life to propel himself in his career, did so much for his community, and had so much yet to accomplish only to be cut down in his prime at just 33 years old. I deemed it a duty to pay him the homage due not only for his music, but for the legacy that he left behind.
Long before his debut album Victory Lap appeared on the scene, Nipsey Hussle had long left his footprint on the world of hip-hop by releasing at least 6 mixtapes spanning from 2005-2013 and also being featured on numerous artists' mixtapes and albums during that time. His gritty storytelling of his firsthand experiences growing up in the streets of the Crenshaw neighborhood in Los Angeles added a whole other level of intrigue and realness to his music that could not be duplicated. The fact that he had paid his dues and earned his respect made him appeal to the demographic that isn’t often heard or looked upon in a favorable light. He resonated with the struggle of being a young black man feeling trapped in a society that largely puts minorities at a disadvantaged state due to the injustice readily seen in the judicial and social structures in place, especially having been in the system himself as well as being affiliated with one of the most notorious organizations in California. This made him relatable and loved from the West Coast to the East Coast. He wanted his music to appeal to the individual “person” not the multitude, and that is just what it did, thus solidifying himself as a Legend.
Nipsey Hussle defied the stereotype of what entertainment has portrayed Rap artists to be. Ever conscious of social issues and disparity that he saw within his community, he made it a point to give back in a major way. Investing his money in area businesses and placing his very own clothing store, Marathon Clothing, in the neighborhood that he grew up in and employing many within the community, along with making it a point to help promote and provide education. Stressing the importance of financial literacy, buying real estate, and even partnering with a STEM center for the brown and black youth in his neighborhood, earned him the nickname “Neighborhood Nip”. You should check out this interview to find out more:
Nipsey proved himself to be an ever savvy businessman. He owned all the rights to his music which in itself is an anomaly. There aren’t many young men of color that are able to transition from “Street Life” to be someone as successful as Nipsey proved to be, but I know for a fact that he is an inspiration, and despite the hand of cards society gave him, he played them exceptionally well. After reflecting on the lyrics of his music and what I’ve come to know about his overall influence, I can’t help but wonder why it took his death to spotlight all of the good he did and the beautiful spirit he embodied and readily promoted. It is disturbing to me that like those who came before him, such as Malcom X, Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur, and many others, we don’t get to see the magnitude of their greatness and influence until their voice is permanently silenced. Although I didn't know him, I can't help but feel the burden of grief that has encompassed his family, his neighborhood, his fanbase, and the black community. Though the wounds are fresh, there is still so much to be celebrated. The unity and positivity that has sparked from Nipsey Hussle's unfortunate demise is unlike anything I've ever seen. I beam from within knowing that this outstanding individual made and will continue to make a tremendeous impact on lives now and those to come.
Nipsey Hussle’s mark has been made, his legacy paved, and from here on out the message in his music and the way he lived his life will forever be saved. If that’s not power, I don’t know what is.
Peace, Blessings, and Power....