A Legendary Hussle

“I’m prolific, so gifted. I’m the type that’s gon’ go get it, no kidding.”

March 31st, 2019 is a day that will be immortalized in the hip-hop community. And until the end of time, it will be a day of great mourning.

Ermias Ashgedom known by his stage name ‘Nipsey Hussle’ was a fast-growing pillar in the rap community and was helping to usher in a new wave for the culture. That wave tragically came to a crashing halt on Sunday afternoon at 3:25 p.m. when Hussle was senselessly gunned down in front of his clothing store, Marathon Clothing in South Los Angeles on the infamous West Slauson Ave. Several hours before the shooting, Hussle tweeted, “Having strong enemies is a blessing.”

“They tell me, ‘Hussle, dumb it down, you might confuse ‘em. This ain’t that weirdo rap you mother******s used to.”

Nipsey was bigger than the rap game itself. In February of this year, he purchased a strip mall on Slauson and Crenshaw Ave. and the plan was over the next 18 months, to knock down and rebuild a six-story residential building that would rest atop the commercial plaza that houses his Marathan store. The concept of tearing down to rebuild is a funny one and to me, it hits home dramatically. This area of South L.A. was my home. I grew up here and dreamed that one day someone could help change the demographic of what it was. And now, I can only hope that it will be seen through.

“He frustrated so he get faded. But deep down inside, he know you cant fade him. How long should I stay dedicated? How long till opportunity meet preparation?”

Nip was a member of the Rollin’ 60’s Crips but was far from the gang life he was once heavily involved in. In fact, he was advocating for the opposite of that life. What he was doing in the community was incredible to see because it seemed as though he understood. He got it. He was one of the few that didn’t get money and forget where he came from. His music let you know how much he loved where he came from and that is what made Nipsey, “Nipsey Tha Great” a man who constantly was wanting to build and expand his empire.

One of his works in progress was a documentary on Dr. Sebi; the controversial herbalist who passed away in 2016. (I have my own thoughts on how that could be in play here but I will keep them to myself)

“And I come through flyin’, no co-sign, I ain’t need radio to do mine. I done fine and I take my time. And I take my tribe every level that I crossed in this game like state lines.”

Hussle developed an interest in technology and community development. In fact, he was a key player in opening Destination Crenshaw, a museum that was focused on honoring African-American artistic achievements. In essence, Nip embraced the slow-burn way of life and business. Jay-Z bought 100 copies of his Crenshaw mixtape for $100 a piece that helped roll profits into his own label, All Money In. He understood the hustle of patience.  2018 was the year of the Hussle, and Los Angeles native Nipsey Hussle embraced it to the fullest extent.

A debut album that spawned a Grammy nomination and a sense of respect only legends acquire. Another life cut short because of foolishness. We have to do better. One thing Hussle understood was that the system was in play against us and that is why he was so determined and dedicated to making sure his entrepreneurial efforts would positively affect his community.

“Yeah, young n***a, started off with a vision. Built this shit up from nothing, to the critics I ain’t listen.”

Nipsey, brother…thank you for not listening. Thank you for reminding us with a consistency that you were nothing like the average rapper. You gave kids from the neighborhood something to believe in, in so many ways. The power and truth in your words has, is and will continue to live on as an inspiration to be better. You were so much bigger than the hood you came from. A gifted poet, entrepreneur and artist, you were truly one of a kind and because of that, your legacy will live. You took a Victory Lap around hip-hop in 2018 and now your music will be a constant reminder, the marathon continues.

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