The murder of Nipsey Hussle is personal. It is personal to me. It is personal to a generation in looking at social media and news interviews, there was a clear message that his death was felt deeply and hurt immensely, and particularly for anyone who came into contact with him, no matter how brief the interaction.
The Grammy-nominated rapper was gunned down on Sunday in front of his store, The Marathon Clothing, in the Crenshaw District of South L.A. To the Los Angeles community, Hussle was a hometown hero as a result of his innovation in entrepreneurship, activism, and philanthropy, who was anchored by humble beginnings. He was 33 and viewed to many in South L.A., as a messiah in the hood, promoting entrepreneurship and leading the people to a better way.
LAPD alleges that the shooter is Eric Holder, 29, of South L.A. LAPD chief Moore also alleges that Hussle and Holder had a verbal dispute on the premises prior to the shooting. According to news sources, Holder, a known gang member, was captured in Bellflower, CA.
Eric Holder, 29, is the alleged shooter. (courtesy photo)
Born Ermias Davidson Asghedom, Hussle was just gaining popular culture traction for his musical talents, earning a 2019 Grammy-nomination for Best Rap Album for his debut project “Victory Lap.” But, many knew of his musical skills long before his more mainstream success. His lyrics articulated the realities of many inner-city youth striving for success in an environment marked by violence, gang activity, and financial instability.
Hussle emerged on the music scene in 2005 with his first mixtape, “Slauson Boy Volume 1.” In early interviews, Hussle differentiated himself from other young rappers by spreading a message to the community to invest in real-estate property rather than jewelry and cars.
In 2010, Hussle founded his own music label, All Money In, which was one of the first illustrations of his innovative entrepreneurial beliefs and practices. He promoted the release of his 2013 “Crenshaw” mixtape by producing 1,000 hard copies with a $100 price tag. His marketing genius garnered the attention of arguably the most successful rapper turned businessman, Jay-Z, who bought 100 copies. Hussle sold out, which generated a $100,000 profit that further positioned him as a thought-leader in the music industry. He often reminded his fans and emerging artists of the importance of owning the royalties to their music.
While climbing the rap charts with hits like “Checc Me Out,” his reach as a change agent in the Black community was widely-spreading, due to his work on projects like Destination Crenshaw, purchasing the strip mall on Slauson & Crenshaw that houses his clothing stores with plans to renovate the space into a mixed-use affordable housing unit that included healthy food options.
Born on August 15, 1985, Hussle said his first passion was music but getting resources was tough after leaving his mother’s house at age 14 to live with his grandmother. He admits that he became involved in street-life as he tried to support himself and as a teenager, joining the Rollin 60’s Neighborhood Crips gang. Hussle walked a line between that lifestyle and maintaining a focus on technology and music, which were interests he always strove to pursue.
In 2017, he renovated The Marathon Clothing store, turning it into what he referred to as a “smart store,” where consumers are provided with a one-of-a-kind shopping experience, utilizing the store app to unlock exclusive content related to his ventures.
In conjunction with his business partner, Dave Gross, Hussle expanded his ties to the tech industry with the launch of the Too Big To Fail initiative, which focused on bringing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs to the inner-city. The first iteration of the Too Big To Fail initiative is a STEM center and maker space located inside Vector 90. Hussle’s vision was to bridge the gap between talented youth from underserved communities and employment opportunities in Silicon Valley, the first tech capital.
Hussle remained real and genuine despite financial success. He maintained compassion while creating his dream. While fulfilling his personal aspirations, he sought to bring his community with him. He was a young man on the precipice of attaining true greatness because of his vision, his belief in being true to self, and pursuing individual passions in a way that allowed control over your destiny.
As a result, his death has shaken many in his community: “Nipsey made me proud of not only being Black but where I was from, which is this neighborhood. Nipsey kept it real at all costs, and he lived what he actually rapped about,” said Lisa B. Others reflect on Nipsey’s influence on them personally. “I had a bad moment in my time, and just his motivation, his mindset, just helped me get out of that,” said Jon Aguirre.
Members of the community gathered, chanting Nipsey’s name in unison. “We over here representin my boy Nipsey, man. Such a tragic situation. He left a legacy, man. He showed a lot of people how to open businesses, how to do something in the community. So, we are going to respect him and carry that on,” said Mercello L.
Chance W. was born and raised in the community and looked up to Hussle. “Man, he meant everything to me. My favorite rapper ever. Inspirational, that’s all I can say.”
Activist, Terrel Richardson reflected on the vigil, comparing it to the Crips and Bloods gang truce in 1992. “Don’t believe what the news is telling you. We all out here in unity, it’s not no fighting. Black, White, and Brown for Nipsey Hussle, Richardson says he wants the killings to stop. “I hope this is the last killing in [South L.A.]. I hope [Nipsey] didn’t die in vain because what he stood for was entrepreneurship.”
Celebrities including Jay Z, John Legend, Diddy, Rihanna, Beyonce, Drake, Issa Rae, and Ava Duvernay took to social media to express disbelief and grief, and to share personal stories about how Hussle touched their lives. They each passed along condolences to his family and loved ones and many paid tribute by mentioning one of their favorite Hussle songs.
Professional athletes also expressed their sadness over the passing of the West Coast rapper including Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma, who each shared heartfelt social media posts about their personal connections. Several professional Los Angeles sports’ teams expressed condolences about Hussle’s death. During the Los Angeles Clippers game on Sunday night, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell paid special tribute to Hussle by hanging custom jerseys in their lockers with “Hussle” on the back. Hussle’s picture was also shown on the Staples Center jumbotron before tipoff.
Ironically, following the news of Hussle’s passing, L.A. Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff shared in a Tweet that he, along with LAPD chief Michael Moore had been scheduled to meet with the rapper to discuss ways to reduce gang violence and help young people. The meeting was still held in his honor as scheduled on Monday, April 1.
Eerily, shortly before his death, he tweeted “Having strong enemies is a blessing.” While details surrounding his murder are still developing, as of Tuesday, local authorities reportedly arrested the suspected killer near a mental health facility in Bellflower, CA.
Having strong enemies is a blessing.
— THA GREAT (@NipseyHussle) March 31, 2019
On Monday evening, thousands of people gathered for a vigil to honor and grieve the loss of Hussle in front of The Marathon Store. A memorial of candles, flowers and paintings of Hussle took shape with the sounds of some of his popular songs “Double Up” and “Hussle & Motivate” playing. Since Hussle owned all the rights and royalties to his music, by streaming his music, his family will receive all profits.
Celebrities and community leaders commented with heartfelt messages on their social media pages and through various news and media sources:
“Nipsey loved his community and it showed. He was involved in many programs and projects to give back to South L.A., including Destination Crenshaw, which he worked on with Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson and others to honor our community with celebration and service. Nipsey’s legacy will live on in all of those who continue to uplift, those who continue to inspire, and those who continue to lift as they climb. My heart goes out to his family and the community that loved and admired him. Nipsey Hussle’s legacy will live forever in Crenshaw.” – Congressmember Karen Bass
“Sadly, we have lost another good brother to senseless gun violence. Our community mourns deeply and our spirits ache, but I have no doubt we will prevail as a unified community and get through these trying times. My prayers are with the Crenshaw community and the family of Nipsey Hussle as well as the other two young brothers that were injured in the shooting. The legacy of Nipsey will undoubtedly leave a positive ripple effect for generations to come. – Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., Executive Publisher Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper & L.A. Watts Times Newspaper, Founder/Creator of Taste of Soul Family Festival
“Nipsey Hussle represents the enormity of the lives that we have lost, and I felt that as I looked at that message from L.A. Fire that told me we had 3 additional shooting victims that had just occurred at Slauson and Crenshaw. And I began that message as I was reading it, standing on the street, exactly where I was at, and then I saw the name Nipsey Hussle and I looked at that again and looked at that again it was like, I could not believe it. It just drove the added violence even just that more severe. So, I am devastated with that because this was a voice that was trying to help and was investing in his communities.” – LAPD Chief Michel Moore
“Our hearts are with the loved ones of Nipsey Hussle and everyone touched by this awful tragedy. L.A. is hurt deeply each time a young life is lost to senseless gun violence. My Crisis Response Team is assisting the families coping with shock and grief.” – Mayor Eric Garcetti
“Ermias Asghedom, known to us as the hip-hop artist Nipsey Hussle, was a father, businessman, entertainer, and inspiration to many. We mourn his sudden and tragic passing and send his family our deepest condolences.” – Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas
“Ermias Asghedom, better known as Nipsey Hussle had a vision of a neighborhood built for and by the sons and daughters of South LA. During his life, he moved from shadows into the bright hope of freedom and community revitalization. Nipsey was a partner and the inspiration behind the naming of Destination Crenshaw. He will be deeply missed and his vision will truly live on.” – Councilman Marqueece Harris – Dawson
“The tragic and senseless death of the man we knew as Nipsey Hussle is an enormous loss to our community; not just because of his talent as an artist, but because of his commitment to his community. He understood the importance of economic empowerment and self-determination and the importance of giving back to the community from which his talent was born. He understood that he was able to succeed by standing on the shoulders of the giants of community activists who came before him and paved the path to his success. Now we must stand on his broad shoulders and finish what he started.” – Michael A. Lawson, president and CEO, Los Angeles Urban League.
“The entire community has come to a standstill. We are all in shock and deep mourning, not because of what Nipsey accomplished as an individual, but because he is such an integral part of us. He visioned and built for us. He gave his light, his creativity, and his genius to us … for the collective. To ride for him, means to carry on that legacy, to be prolific, to be collective in our work, to be in it for the marathon. His work cannot die with his body.” – Dr. Melina Abdullah, Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, #BlackLivesMatter organizer
“Rest in Love Nipsey. I am an admirer of your wisdom which will now be part of your legacy. My heart bleeds for all those who love him. Stay strong @laurenlondon, He’s an angel on your shoulder now.” – Jada Pinkett Smith
“F–k. My whole energy is just at a low right now hearing this. We just linked for the first time in years and said we were gonna do a new song this summer cause it had been too long. You were having the best run and I was so happy watching from distance fam’. Nobody ever talks down on your name you were a real one to your people and to the rest of us. I’m only doing this here cause I want the world to know I saw you as a man of respect and a don, Rest easy my g.” – Drake
“This doesn’t make any sense! My spirit is shaken by this! Dear God may His spirit Rest In Peace and may you grant divine comfort to all his loved ones! I’m so sorry this happened to you Nipsey Hussle.” – Rihanna
“I got to know him last year and had a great conversation about who he was as a person, what he stood for, what his message was. Tried to inspire people, considering where he grew up. And how he turned that into something extremely powerful. Represented an entire city. Definitely sad, sad, tragic event.” – Steph Curry
“I’ll remember him this way, bright, genuine, forward thinking. I’ll remember the beauty that he saw in our community. And the beauty that he was. Rest in Power, King.” – Ava DuVernay
“He was a staple and the backbone of the community…a father, a boyfriend, a brother, a son, A man…what he has done for his people will never be forgotten and I can only pray that everyone who had the blessing to meet him, felt his true spirit and inspiration. Prayers go out to Lauren, his kids, his family, Sam, Jorge, Archer, Adam, J roc, David and everyone else he touched and impacted…and I pray everyone remembers his true message… ‘the marathon continues’” – Nicolas Maye
“RIP Nipsey. I just spent Thursday with him filming a video for a beautiful new song we created with Khaled. We filmed in Inglewood, close to where he grew up. He was so gifted, so proud of his home, so invested in his community. Utterly stunned that he’s gone so soon.” – John Legend
“So, so, SAD man!! DAMN man, this hurt.” – LeBron James
“Our hearts are heavy over the loss of our brother, Nipsey Hussle. Rest In Peace. Our thoughts, love and prayers to his family and friends.” – Jay-Z
“You were about something positive and for your community in every chance you had to speak and because of that, you inspired millions who will uphold your legacy forever. Rest amongst the stars.” – Pharrel Williams
“RIP Nipsey man. This is tragic.” – Chancetherapper
“This is so painful! HYPERLINK “https://twitter.com/NipseyHussle” was doing great work for the people. Keep his legacy alive by carrying on his work! Sending love to his family. Rest in Power King.” – Colin Kaepernick
“I’m feeling so f–ked up right now.” R.I.P Nipsey. Condolences to your family. WTF!! Can we please stop!!!” – Dr. Dre.
“I’m so sad right now. I’ll just reflect on the good times we had.” – Snoop Dogg
Nipsey Hussle is survived by his mother, grandmother, brother, life partner and actress, Lauren London, his daughter, Emani Asghedom and son, Kross Asghedom.
The marathon continues, Rest In Peace Nipsey Hussle.