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Neighborhood Says goodbye to Hip-Hop Legend and Community Giant
By Kimberlee Buck, Contributing Writer
Published April 18, 2019

 

On Thursday, April 11, thousands of fans across the U.S. gathered in downtown Los Angeles at the Staples Center to say their farewells to rapper, philanthropist, and community activist, Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom, who was killed in front of his Marathon Clothing store in late March. The funeral is the first of its kind to be held at the sports and entertainment center since the death of pop star, Michael Jackson in 2009.

The memorial service opened with words from Pastors Reid Rich and Shep Crawford, followed by a slideshow with images of Hussle throughout the years, as well as photos of the rapper with his family, friends, and longtime girlfriend, Lauren London.

Next, singer Marsha Ambrosius took to the stage to pay tribute to Hussle with a performance of Mariah Carey’s song, “Fly Like A Bird.”

Hussle’s business partner and friend, Karen Civil, read a letter from former U.S. President Barack Obama to the audience.

In the letter, Obama expressed his condolences to the family and encouraged others to continue fulfilling the vision Hussle had for the Crenshaw community.

“I’ve never met Nipsey but I’ve heard his music through my daughters, and after his passing, I had a chance to learn more about his transformation and his community work. While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and only see gangs, bullets, and despair, Nipsey saw potential,” read the letter.

“He saw hope. He saw a community that even through its flaws taught him to always keep going. His choice to invest in that community, rather than to ignore it, to build a skills training center, a co-working space in Crenshaw to lift the Eritrea American community. He set an example for young people to follow and that is a legacy worth celebration. I hope his memory inspires more good work in Crenshaw and communities like it.”

Nipsey Hussle’s Celebration of Life at STAPLES Center on April 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed in front of his store, The Marathon Clothing, on March 31, 2019 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images For AEG/Atlantic Records)

After the reading of the letter, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan accompanied by Brother Tony Muhammad, shared his thoughts on the “prophetic soul” of Hussle.

“The work that his life will produce, will go down in history as something that has changed the world. The name Ermias in the language of the Eritrean people means God is rising,” said Farrakhan.

“The name Nipsey in that same language means homie, a brother from the hood that never really left the hood but now the whole world will have to embrace him as his life and his death changes the hood and produces a profound change in the world. Ermias was more than a Hip-Hop artist. He was a voice, he was a brilliant mind and the spirit of God was in his life.”

Next, Hussle’s daughter Emani Asghedom, two-year-old son Kross Asghedom (the shared child between London and Hussle) and Kameron Carter (London’s son with rapper Lil Wayne) appeared on the stage dressed in white and blue. The children were accompanied by London and Hussle’s sister, Samantha Smith.

“On the night of April 2, I had a dream I was in a paradise and I was playing in the ocean water when Ermias popped up right behind me. He said ‘what up killa’ because that’s my nickname,” said Carter, who spoke on behalf of the other children.

“I turned around and I yelled his name and I gave him a hug. Shortly, he was gone. I told my mom about the dream and after I told her, I was thinking about it and I realized that Ermias told me what Heaven was like. He told me it was paradise.”

Hussle’s mother and father, Angelique Smith and Dawit Asghedom, also spoke to the audience.

 (L-R) Angelique Smith and Dawit Asghedom speak onstage during Nipsey Hussle’s Celebration of Life at STAPLES Center on April 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed in front of his store, The Marathon Clothing, on March 31, 2019 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images For AEG/Atlantic Records)

“I have perfect peace. I am happy, I am complete. I am strong and if I can feel this way, so can you. We call on the creator for everything and on mother earth who sustains us. We call on the energies who guide and protect us as we make our way in life. We call on our ancestors to join us at this service,” said Angelique Smith.

“We ask the ancestors of Ermias Joseph Asghedom to keep him company on his journey and we ask them to be there. I ask that all of our ancestors guide and protect us and give us the gift of perfect peace,” Hussle’s mother prayed.

Hussle’s brother Samiel Asghedom spoke about the rapper’s contributions.

“He just wanted to inspire and always bring something back. It wasn’t about how some people think handouts are given. When we were growing up, we just admired the people in the community that was hustling and because we grew up kind of have nots. They didn’t have to give us anything, they inspired us. Nip was about demonstrating and coming back,” he said.

Hussle’s girlfriend, London, shared a text she had written him on January 1, 2019, as well as other personal stories.

“I just want you to know that you have been the greatest boyfriend to me, and even though you are not perfect, I would never ask you to be,” read London’s text.

“You and I work, we fit, and you are the coolest guy in the world to me still. I love you so much unconditionally. My truth is this, I’m never gonna give up on you. My love and my devotion is to you.”

London goes on to describe the type of man Hussle was.

“His soul was majestic and he was the strongest man I ever knew. A gentle father. A patient leader, a divine light. He was brilliant, he researched everything. Completely self-taught, constantly seeking knowledge.”

Following London’s speech, Hussle’s sister, Samantha Smith, spoke next.

“To my brother, my protector, my guy who thought he was my daddy and it’s okay. I just first want to say thank you for loving me unconditionally, for never judging me, for having my back always, anytime no matter what you was doing,” she said.

Finally, Hussle’s father Dawit Asghedom spoke. He described his son as a “fighter” and encouraged others to stop the violence.

Rapper Snoop Dogg followed with his condolences to London and Hussle’s family.

“For those who knew Nipsey Hussle personally, you knew that he had nothing but love for every gang member from Southern California. I don’t care what neighborhood you are from,” said Snoop Dogg.

He goes on to explain how Hussle made records with both Crips and Bloods which untied the neighborhoods.

“You are a peace advocate Nip, that’s what you are and I know that because that’s what I am and the marathon is going to continue period! My final words will be for God so loved the world that he gave us a Crip. The late great neighborhood Nip.”

Other speakers and guest appearances included: Singer Anthony Hamilton; Father Thomas Uwal from the Nation of Eritera; singer Jhené Aiko, Stevie Wonder; rapper YG, DJ Mustard; and Adam Andebrha.

Following the three-hour-long memorial service, the family held a processional for those who were unable to attend the celebration of life inside the Staple Center.

Thousands of fans flooded the streets as the silver hearse carrying Hussle’s body made its way to some of the most memorable places in the rapper’s life.

The 25.5-mile procession began at Staples Center and made its way through South L.A., La Brea Avenue and Manchester Boulevard in Inglewood, and Slauson Avenue where Hussle’s Marathon Clothing store is located.

As the hearse made its way through each stop, fans held up Eritrean flags and Nipsey Hussle memorabilia. Those who were able to get close enough to the vehicle were able to touch the hearse and throw white and red roses on top. Others stood on the curb, in the streets, and on rooftops of local buildings while singing and dancing to their favorite songs from the rapper’s album.

“I am here to show solidarity but to also let them know if they take one of us out, we have a thousand coming on solider strong. That man, he was the brain, he was the thinker but he also had soldiers,” said a Final Call representative.

“He mobilized with his music. He put a lot of economic empowerment into his music. He also was able to showcase a level of opulence within the Hip-Hop community and he carried himself as a king, so I salute that man.”

Local residents, Nancy York and Chynah Blaque, also told the L.A. Sentinel what Hussle meant to them.

“Nipsey Hussle was a great inspiration for the community. He was a young African-American man that was a gang member but he turned himself around as far as building up in the community to where he was, helping pretty much everyone that came up to him. He would do anything for his community and people across the world,” said York.

York goes on to explain how other rappers can keep Hussle’s legacy alive.

“Pretty much keep the marathon going and giving to the community by building parks and putting money back in the community so that all the kids can have a safe environment.”

Blaque who told the Sentinel that she was friends with Nipsey stated: “He was a great young man, his energy was everything and he not only lived in this community, he was a product of this community. What he did was a great body of work. It hasn’t been done by any African American and he was 33-years-young and he accomplished a lot in his years of being in this place.

“Hopefully celebrities, and even just us as Black people, Black people as a whole that we will step up especially the men, and just give guidance to the young men in the community as well and just continue [Hussle’s] legacy.”

Hussle’s final victory lap ended in front of Angelus Funeral Home.

What fans and local residents are taking away from Hussle’s legacy is this: Invest in the Black community, uplift the Black community, and give back to the Black community. Although the rapper and community activist has been laid to rest, in the words of the South Los Angeles community, “the marathon continues.”

Nipsey Hussle fans shared their thoughts outside the funeral and during the processional:

“It’s important for me to come and pay homage and respect to an icon and legend, [a brother] who speaks for the streets and spoke for all of us. It’s a lot of love out here; a dope environment and a testament of the man’s life.” -Shane N.

“We came here to show our support. He united all of us, our cultures you know, Blacks and Hispanics, Mexicans … I mean, just a grounded person with everybody. He had the same struggles. I’m just trying to make it one day at a time. I give my love and respect to Nipsey Hussle; he was a big impact.” -Sylvia R.

“I’m here because I want to pay respects to a king, where I was born and raised. I appreciate the family man that he is and I just think he was a great guy. We should definitely represent his legacy in honoring him today and I think the energy here is awesome.” -Brandi
“Rest up Nip! You already know [he] transformed from a gangster to mega Black excellence. It is pure love. I’m out here like all these people, to pay my respects”. — Rapper Mozzy

“Just out here, giving my support to Nipsey Hussle for not only what he meant to me, but what he meant to world. So, I’m out here giving away my music and playing his music all day to show my love and gratitude for the man who gave way to the city of L.A.” -M. Griffin

The community awaits the arrival for Nipsey Hussle at the corner of Slauson & Srenshaw. Most were there for a minimum of 14 hours. Photographer Valerie Goodloe

“I just went to our neighborhood brother’s, Nipsey Hussle’s funeral. It was powerful. Every seat was taken, everyone stood up. There was so much love in the room. So, much positivity and words of encouragement and how we should live by the example he set. Nipsey Hussle was our Robin Hood.” -Mariah

“When I found out about it, I was inspired, and taking the time to come here helped me feel the community and that communal vibe. And to see how many people he touched far beyond his music, and to remind us all of the person we need to be for the communities that we come from, regardless of where we are. This was evident in all that Nipsey Hussle has accomplished”. -Kendra C.

“My son was murdered in 2013, so I know what his mother is going through. She is going to have long, hard, weary days because I do. But let what he stood for continue this truce, not just for today but I hope the peace becomes a continuous thing.” -Kim K.

“I think everybody is searching for something positive and I feel that’s why so many people in the community have gravitated to the [Nipsey Hussle processional]. He was a rapper but he was doing something positive in the community.” -Sandra S.

“Long live Nipsey, man. He’s the best. I grew up in the 60’s, I listen to his music. He did a lot for the community. So, we come to pay our respect. It’s real in the field. See all these people out here? Volumes.” -Processional viewer

Photos by Mesiyah McGinnis

“We were at the Watts Towers. It was so amazing. Everyone just came through; you could just feel the energy. But I’m sad because this didn’t have to happen. People should just think before they do things and watch our egos and our pride. I lot of people seem okay but have mental illnesses. You never know what’s happening in someone’s head.” –Karen Pikes

“I first heard of Nipsey Hussle through my granddaughters. But as I learned more, I began to appreciate him. I love his rap, I love his word, and I love what he’s done as an entrepreneur in the community. More of us should get together and become as one. That’s what he stood for.” –Dora

“We love Nipsey. We stay in Nipsey’s neighborhood. The marathon continues today and on and on for the rest of the days, there’s going to be peace, love, unity, Black love, that’s what we are about.” –Tierra and Loretha

“He was solid. He was a king. He did something nobody will ever do again. The way everyone is coming together. Nobody before him and nobody after him can do what Nip did here today. I salute you soldier.” -EG Anderson

“I lived in that neighborhood. I’m in solidarity in what he was doing in his lifetime. He was a good guy. So, we need to honor good guys. I don’t understand why, when you get out of the game, people still want to take advantage of you.” -Debra T

Photos by Mesiyah McGinnis

“To lose Nipsey. It’s just too hard to put into words. I still don’t believe it but he is still in my heart. I just feel for [his wife] and kids. His past, where he came from and the fact that he came back to the community where he is from. He helped us in our community and he was going to build that community up. He got jobs for kids who couldn’t find jobs. It’s sad he was shot in his community.” –Maureen

“As a rapper, people want to feel your journey through your lyrics and that’s what Nipsey was able to do. He was able to recall his journey, put it in words and allow you to feel his passion. Everyone [at the processional] just wants a peace that soothes their souls or eases the questions that they have. It’s almost an extended version of the historical moments of Martin Luther King or Malcolm X.” – David L.

“Nipsey motivated me in cosmetology. I know it sounds funny but his music motivates me. ‘Proper preparation presents poor presentation,’ and that’s what I live by every day.” -Nipsey Hussle fan.

The marathon continues and we are all just out here in an outpour of love. We are beautiful. Look at all the different types of races and people. We out here; it’s like Crenshaw back in the day. We love each other, at least for today, so we can pass him on, his castle at least. Because he’s here, with us, right now.” – C’Chell

“I’m here for Nipsey because I wanted to be here and show my support. He taught harmony, self-respect, grind, work hard, don’t stop. He showed us you can do anything you believe in. It’s the hustle of life; he taught us game … free game.” –Taylor M.

Photo by Mesiyah McGinnis

“I decided to bring my son to see one of his idols; someone whose people look up to and he took care of his people. He worked to make the community better and that’s what we need to do as Black folks.” -Sylvester K., Jr.

“I’ve been a fan since 2009. I never got a chance to meet him but he inspired me. He means a lot to L.A. and helped a lot of people, his people” -Sylvester K., III

“He was very influential to the community and to me, and I like his music. He will always be in history.” -Sharday

“He was the heart and soul of South L.A., and that’s the reason why he is getting so much support.” -Vanity

“Nipsey was a real one. He touches souls and spreads love. He is a pure example of Black entrepreneurship, Black excellence, bringing everybody together and fixing [things] from the inside. We have to fix each other from the inside.” –Travis T.

“We are just out here for Nipsey, to keep his legacy alive. He was a legend in L.A. We will definitely keep the hustle going. Much respect to him and his family.” -Chris

“He meant a lot to L.A. The marathon continues, we won’t stop. He taught me how to grind, get off that couch and make that paper. Get a job. Start a business, get a plan. I mean, you can rep something but get a job.” -Isaiah C., Ray D., and Reggie A.\

 (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images For AEG/Atlantic Records)

Categories: Crenshaw & Around | Entertainment | Exclusive | Exclusive (Entertainment) | Local | National | News | News (Entertainment)
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