Words by Charles Odugbesan
History often has an eerie way of repeating itself. There are an untold number of artists; entertainers for that matter, who, one way or another, met a tragic demise at the very peak of their powers. Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G, Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes, Aaliyah, Bob Marley, Kurt Cobain, Selena, Avicii, Paul Walker, Heath Ledger, Brandon Lee and so many others make up a long list of extraordinary talents taken too soon. Los Angeles, California native Ermias Asghedom, more commonly known as Nipsey Hussle, sadly became the latest inclusion to this list on March 31st.
“WE USED TO SHOOT AT N*****S AT THE MOBIL STATION, FULL CIRCLE, MOGUL MOTIVATION” – LOADED BASES
The same parking lot in Slauson, CA that used to be an abandoned set of buildings where Ermias would sell drugs to make his money, was the same place he demonstrated his incredible business acumen, transforming himself through a blossoming rap career to establishing multiple stores, including a burger restaurant, a barbershop and a fish market, providing job opportunities for those in his city and investing in various schools and youth programmes within the area. And sadly it was the same place where he would meet his demise as he was shot 6 times outside his Marathon Clothing store.
The same conversations will be reignited following the murder of Nipsey Hussle: Gun violence within the United States claiming another son, sibling, husband and father; the unavoidable streak of jealousy and envy which ails the black community (a problem we face here in U.K. also); never ending conspiracy theories that do nothing but mystify a very real death – there are so many factors that cloud the grief that friends, family and fans are still going through at this point in time. Not only that, but these same factors distract us from remembering what Nipsey stood for and holding him in the highest regard because of it.
Nipsey was a people’s champion. He went from faltering contract negotiations with Def Jam in the early stages of his career, to (after 13 years) receiving his one and only Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album following his long awaited debut release Victory Lap in February 2018… all as an independent artist who fully owns his masters and the rights to all of his music. He released 12 mixtapes and endured several delays and contractual issues before delivering his one and only studio album. But in doing so he gained mass admiration for his ambition, dedication and application. In a sit down with Genius he spoke about how his grandmother endured 13 pregnancies but would only deliver 2 children… a testament, if ever there was one, to the mental fortitude passed down the family tree to Nipsey himself. After 12 mixtapes and 13 years, Hussle could finally be placed at the pinnacle of Hip-Hop with pioneers such as Diddy, Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg cosigning and even investing their own time and energy into his endeavours. The sky really was the limit.
Outside of rap the ideology of ownership and entrepreneurship was gospel to him. He tirelessly pushed to develop new ideas, businesses and to provide opportunities and jobs for those in his local community both young and old. The ultimate goal being to guide a generation away from the perils of streetlife and uplift all those around him. There are multiple interviews and instances of Nipsey having these visions from a young age! He is an example and a role model to young, would-be entrepreneurs from tough backgrounds everywhere.
“AND WHEN I DIE PUT ME NEXT TO THE DEAD POETS. TELL ‘EM GOD HAD A PLAN FOR ME AND I DIDN’T KNOW IT.“
On a personal note, Nipsey Hussle was one of my favourite rappers. Someone whose words carried substance and resonated with me on a deeper level. Putting together words following his death is difficult, something I’m sure fellow fans can empathise with. It’s a testament to him as an artist that even those who weren’t avid followers recognise and feel the loss of his presence within the Hip Hop community. Motivational rap will never be the same.
But nevertheless… The marathon continues
Rest In Peace Nipsey Hussle