Today, I spoke with my father about the whole Nipsey ordeal and he mentioned how heartbroken and discouraged he was. Discouraged for the fact that a loss of hope exuded throughout the whole city of Los Angeles. Hopeless, with concerns pertaining to leaders in the community such as “If you won’t allow someone namely as Nip Hussle The Great to help us, there’s no telling who you’ll allow to thrive.”
My father grew up in San Pedro, California and steered away from the street life when he discovered I was on the way. During this time, he had been creating music out of “Dodge City” in order to stop drugs and violence throughout the disruptive area, while also enlightening the youth of history and knowledge. Actively engaging in the community, he impacted Pedro and became a heavy influence. Following a public speaking event against racism and police brutality, he had ostensibly been approached by a certain officer of LAPD to “watch your ass.” Later, he was informed by an ally from the Port Warden division “looks like they tryna get to you, is there somewhere you can lay low?” He then dropped the pursuit of reformation and decided to leave the county until my mother called about a job opportunity in Inglewood.
Upon my adolescence, we moved to the Jungles of LA. I had been caught up with my older brothers and neighbors doing shit I had no business doing at the age of ten. My parents had no mind of my wrongdoings because it was out of sight. Everyday after school, I’d dribble my ball up to Van Ness Park and be back before the streetlights cut on. One evening, the park was taped around the perimeter due to an on-site shooting. On the other side of this park was Crenshaw Boulevard.
Ten years were spent in the front yard of this duplex, until a fatal police chase ended with a sedan barging through our gate. The home was on the corner of 57th Street and Wilton Place. A two minute walk from Slauson Avenue, home to Nipsey Hussle’s clothing store — The Marathon.
Nipsey Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, had been brought into the same interminable world of chaos, near Slauson and Crenshaw Boulevard. The city — filled with resentment, and fueled by rhythm and rank. South Central Los Angeles was no place to sleep on, but the legend remained attentive and stood ten toes down for his surroundings. As a teenager, Asghedom held aspirations to become a recording artist, but grew frustrated due to the lack of resources available in the area. Following the dispirit of the musical pursuit, he then resorted to what he knew would keep him afloat. Nip joined the Rollin 60s Neighborhood Crips. Granted that his official lifestyle could alter his future, he managed to independently release his first mixtape, Slauson Boy, before signing with Epic Records. After deciding not to sign again with Epic in 2010, Nipsey constructed and founded his very own record label, All Money In.
In addition, the rapper released more mixtapes to follow and sold his last, Crenshaw, for $100 each. He reportedly grossed $100,000, including 100 purchases from Jay-Z. The entrepreneur continued to invest in his brand after purchasing the storefront on Slauson Avenue and Crenshaw Blvd. He also built a co-working space in South Los Angeles for the underserved youth. Asghedom had desires to bridge the gap between the lacking body and the coveted attributes for growth and technology. He credits his business-savvy and altruistic mindset to an inspiring three month visit to his father’s country of Eritrea. Nonetheless, he managed to carry himself with poise and love to cease all the violence he may had been familiar with.
On March 31, 2019, Nipsey Hussle was fatally shot right in front of the store he opened to serve his community — a day before he was scheduled to meet with the LAPD and Roc Nation to discuss matters and prevention of neighborhood violence. His legacy continues through his children, Emani, Kross, long time girlfriend, Lauren, and the millions he inspired to make a difference.
Usually, when a renowned artist or preeminent figure ascends on, we acknowledge it in disbelief and continue to move on but this one hurt differently. Prior to now, I had been figuring out life with zero help but from those I owe to this day. Pop had lost his job and Moma was in no place to help. I resorted to Nipsey’s inspiring words and spent countless hours praying for clarity on my future. Sure enough, my dependence on the Almighty and music brought me through. God willed my hustle as Ermias motivated it.
I solely believe anything can be achieved with hard work, faith, and love. Stay true to those values and nothing but your opposition will be out of the way. I don’t use this time of mourning for opportunistic or promotional exploitation but to carry on the torch in this marathon. I know if The Great were here, he’d say some shit like “Go head young nigga, getcho dollars and make change.” As a black man in today’s age, change is what I’ve been searching for a long time coming. Plenty of times, I reminded myself that a manipulated life is not a life worth living. So if I lose mine in pursuit of actual freedom, just know I did everything to attain it.
My father has lived through the death of MLK, Pac, and now Nip. Twenty-six years following his initial relocation, I’ve chosen to honor such an inspiration to the city I come from while incoherently following his footsteps. He always said “Find something you love to do, then find a way to get paid to it.” For many of us, we know it is helping others. One thing the world knows not, is how many more legends were born through tragedy. The man known as Naybahood Nip has been an inspiration, far beyond the neighborhood of South Central.