“He was like a safe haven to me, I’d always play his music when I’m going through things and need some motivation to get thru ’em. He really motivated me and not just in school, life in general. Hearing about his death just makes me wonder like why did it have to be him, the person who was all for his people, it just doesn’t make sense.” Salah Osman, Running Start student at SCC & Senior at Franklin High School.
On March 31, 2019 I was on a subway in New York City wrapping up spring break, with little to no cell service, when I overheard someone say “OMG they killed Nipsey Hussle.” As a millennial, I rushed straight to my phone. I couldn’t wait to get out of the tunnel to see if the news I had just overheard was real or fake. My Instagram flooded my timeline with RIP Tha Great, a name I now believe suited his upcoming success. Growing up on the West Coast, I had heard the name Nipsey a few times before. I even contemplated going to the concert here in Seattle last year, but last-minute plans changed my mind. Next time, I said. This was the first thing that came to mind once I heard the news that he had passed away. The violent death of the rapper/entrepreneur sent shockwaves through not only those that knew him, but also those that will get to know him more through his death.
The outpouring of positivity over the days ahead made me dive into finding out who this man really was. I have been following the stories and support online, from news outlets both local and national. Stories from regular people, not just fans and admirers; locals that witnessed him in the community spreading his love for humanity, his street knowledge, and his hope of bringing back the core values of the community he grew up in. The brief conversations and run-ins I have had with students about the loss of one of their favorite rappers. One student quoted, “I Feel this loss so personal to me, as if I lost someone I knew.” Colleagues, some whom did not have any idea of who he was before, are now compelled by his story just as much as his fans are.
Nipsey Hussle was born Ermias Ashegodem on August 15, 1985. He is the son of an immigrant father from Eritrea and an African-American mother. Growing up in South L.A., at 14, he dropped out of high school and moved away from home. He later joined the Rolling 60’s, a gang connected to the Crips in L.A. In an interview with Vlad TV in 2014 he stated “None of my family members was from Rollin 60’s. My dad came from Africa, so his whole side of my family is in Africa. And then my mom she only had one brother and it was her…I think it was like a combination of just being [at that] age. I left my house kind of early. When I was probably like 14. Out of my mom’s house. I went to go live with my granny when I was 14. I just was taking care of myself early on and I was doing things to try to get money so I could support myself. I always wanted to do music. That was my first passion before anything.
Hussle’s music spans more than 13 years, with his 1st self-release of Slauson Boy Vol. 1 in 2005. In 2013 he released his 8th mixtape album Crenshaw, selling them at $100 a unit. It was reported that Rapper Jay-Z purchased 100 copies out of the 1,000 made. He told Forbes magazine in 2013 after the success of his mixtape “When you say it’s a mixtape that has less value to people, but I think the fact that I charged $100 dealt with that issue. It was all original music too, so for all intents and purposes it was an album, but I didn’t want people to mistake it for my debut album.”
After 12 successful mixtapes. Hussle released his first highly anticipated studio album. Victory Lap was released February 16, 2018. Making Billboard’s top 200 list at number 4, selling 53,000 units, it was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Album of the year in 2018. It has had over 57 million streams since his passing.
This past Thursday, Hussle’s life was celebrated at the Staples Center in his hometown of L.A., with a total of about 21,000 fans, celebrities and loved ones in attendees. Minister Louis Farrakhan took the stage for his eulogy. The following statement I believe resonated not only with me but with so many others. “It’s a great honor for me to be here to honor a life that will become more famous in death than in life. The work his life will produce will go down in history as something that changed the world. The name Ermias in Eritrean means ‘God is rising. The name Nipsey in that same language means homie, a brother from the hood. He never really left the hood but now the whole world will embrace him as his life and his death changes the hood and produces a profound change in the world.”
On April 10, 2019 Nipsey Hussle’s philanthropic work was officially archived into the U.S. Congressional Record as a part of United States History. Democrat Congressional representative Karen Brass demonstrated how he used his music platform to the House floor representatives, that his contributions to the community of South L.A. included assisting those who were incarcerated and homeless, struggling for a second chance. As Rep. Brass shared, “For all he was given, he gave back. And for that legacy, South Los Angeles has been changed forever.”
This past Friday the intersection of Crenshaw & Slauson, where the rapper grew up and where he had purchased several pieces of property, was renamed Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom Square. On Sunday April 14th, Crete Academy revealed the Nipsey Hussle Memorial Court in Nipsey’s honor. He is survived by his parents Angelique Smith and Dawit Asghedom, his two children Emani and Kross, his siblings, grandmother, and the love of his life, actress and TV personality Lauren London.
“His music provided where he was at and where he was coming as a person. This was something very valuable, because a lot of people don’t come back and show you how to do it. Yet, he did, and I think that provides perspective and enrichment in which you are as a person.”Julian – Student at SCC and aspiring rapper.