Nipsey Hussle would have turned 34 years old today.
The hip hop legend who made a name for himself writing bars rising from the bottom literally to the top and put on his neighbourhood and not just by name but by investing back in the community has been remembered by fans and thanked for his service to America.
The star met his untimely death quickly in the hands of an infamous shooter who killed by bullets pointblank in what has remained one of the most shocking deaths in hip hop save for Tupac!
Ermias Joseph Asghedom (August 15, 1985 – March 31, 2019), known professionally as Nipsey Hussle (often stylised as Nipsey Hu$$le), was an American rapper, entrepreneur, and community activist.
Emerging from the West Coast hip hop scene in the mid-2000s, Hussle independently released his first mix-tape, Slauson Boy Volume 1, to moderate local success, which led to him being signed to Cinematic Music Group and Epic Records.
He became known for his numerous mix-tapes, including his Bullets Ain’t Got No Name series, The Marathon, The Marathon Continues and Crenshaw, the last of which rapper Jay-Z bought 100 copies for $100 each.
After much delay, his debut studio album Victory Lap was released in 2018 to critical acclaim and commercial success, and was nominated for the Best Rap Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in 2019.
Also known for his entrepreneurship and community activism, Hussle inaugurated the “Marathon Clothing” store, which he founded along with partners Carless, the head of the agency, Karen Civil and his brother Samiel Asghedom in 2017, and started a co-working environment which he named “Vector 90”.
On March 31, 2019, Hussle was fatally shot outside his store “Marathon Clothing” in South Los Angeles. Eric Holder, a 29-year-old man who had confronted Hussle earlier in the day, was arrested and charged with murder on April 2, 2019.
Ermias Joseph Asghedom was born to Angelique Smith, an African-American woman, and Dawit Asghedom, an Eritrean immigrant, on August 15, 1985. He was raised in the Crenshaw neighbourhood of South Los Angeles with his brother Samiel and his sister Samantha.
Asghedom attended Hamilton High School in the nearby Castle Heights neighbourhood, but dropped out before graduating. At the age of 14, Asghedom left home and joined the local Rollin 60’s Neighbourhood Crips, a sub-group of the larger Crips gang primarily based in his home neighbourhood of Crenshaw.
His stage name, a play on the name of comedian Nipsey Russell, originated as a nickname given to Asghedom by a childhood friend. At the age of 19, Asghedom’s father took both him and his brother Samiel on a trip to Eritrea, East Africa for three months in 2004.
Asghedom credited the trip with inspiring him to become a community activist with an “entrepreneurial spirit”.
Hussle wanted to focus on “giving solutions and inspiration” to young black men like him. He denounced gun violence through his music, influence and community work.
He spoke openly about his experiences with gang culture. He not only funded improvements to neighbourhood schools but also spent time with students and participated on panels about growing up in the area and the influence of gang culture.
Hussle started a co-working environment which he named Vector 90. From his own experience, he saw the Crenshaw area as being under served and that young people would benefit from communal work-spaces.
He also intended young people to be able to take classes in science, technology and mathematics at the center. In March 2019, Hussle had contacted officials from the LAPD to arrange a meeting with him and Roc Nation about what they could do to help prevent gang violence in South Los Angeles.
The meeting had been scheduled to take place on April 1. Hussle was murdered the day before. According to Los Angeles Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff, the meeting will still take place at a future date, in Hussle’s honour.
Hussle’s Marathon branding inspired Steve Carless in 2013 when he founded Marathon Agency with business partners Karen Civil and Jorge Peniche.
They designed the talent-based brand to attract a diverse set of clients in all stages of their careers. In October 2016, Carless, the head of the agency, told Billboard that Nipsey had invested “like over six figures” in the Marathon Agency and described him as “kind of like our silent partner.”
On June 17, 2017, Nipsey inaugurated the “Marathon Clothing” store, which he founded along with partners Carless, Civil, and his brother Samiel Asghedom.
Opening the store at this intersection along the Crenshaw commercial district was important to him because he wanted to invest and provide opportunities in his neighbourhood of Hyde Park .
The store is billed as a “smart store,” which bridges the gap between culture and technology by giving customers access to exclusive music and other content created by rappers through an app created by software engineer Iddris Sandu.
The year before he was murdered, Hussle had bought the L-shaped shopping center where Hussle’s store was located with real estate investor David Gross who was also a South Los Angeles native.
In 2007, Hussle played a small role in Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s semi-autobiographical film I Tried, which was directed by Rich Newey. In 2010, he starred in the film Caged Animal, alongside Ving Rhames, Gillie Da Kid and Robert Patrick.
In 2015, Hussle was featured in a cameo “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” in the pilot episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, rapping two bars before abruptly stopping and commenting on Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom)’s long grooming routine as “some nasty-ass patriarchal bullshit.
You know what? I gotta go apologise to some bitches. I’m forever changed after what I just seen.”
Upon hearing the news of his death, numerous celebrities offered their condolences on social media. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also offered his condolences to Hussle’s family.
A petition was started to rename the intersection of Slauson Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard near Hussle’s store Marathon Clothing to “Nipsey Hussle Square”.
On the day of his funeral, the council announced it was set to be renamed Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom Square to honour him and his contributions to the neighbourhood.
Hussle’s memorial service was held on April 11 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, with tickets given away free of charge. A letter from former president Barack Obama, which praised the rapper for his work in the community, was read:
“While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighbourhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets, and despair, Nipsey saw potential.”
The 25.5-mile (41.0 km) funeral procession wound through the streets of South L.A. including Watts where he spent some of his formative years. The Watts Towers were a gathering place along the route for mourners.
The crowds lining the streets, which at times created gridlock as they flooded the streets, demonstrated the impact he had on this community. Hussle’s longtime friend and collaborator YG dedicated his performance at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to the memory of Nipsey Hussle.
There was a strong artistic response to Nipsey Hussle’s death. Within a few months, over 50 murals dedicated to the rapper were painted in the City of Los Angeles. One mural is in an alley near the strip mall where he was killed. Hussle’s store has remained closed since his death.
The Marathon continues….
Thank you Nip, from your words for daily motivation to the music. The Marathon Continues.💙🏁 Happy Birthday Nipsey Hussle. Rest in Peace. pic.twitter.com/7fYf7r2Tim
— Baker (@BuzyBakerr) August 15, 2019
Long Live Nip 💙 @NipseyHussle
— FLY (@WE_R_FLY) August 15, 2019
Happy birthday to the Great Nipsey Hussle!
I’ve never had a chance to meet you but your spirit and words touch my soul everyday! And through your music, I’m getting ready for my games, on some Hussle & Motivate sh*t!
— Memphis Depay (@Memphis) August 15, 2019
“The game is gonna test you, never fold, stay 10 toes down. It’s on you, it’s in you and what’s in you they can’t take away.” ~Nipsey Hussle
Happy Birthday to a real one, spoke nothing but truth in his rap. 💙💙
— Niko Hamalainen (@Niko_Hamalainen) August 15, 2019
Happy birthday Nip The Great 🏁The Marathon Continues pic.twitter.com/amuCu3topb
— CMC Stan Account 🏁 (@CalledMe_Buskey) August 15, 2019
"Keep your heart pure, stay motivated, stay inspired, show love to your people."
— Tiffany Soulbird ️🕊 (@TiffanySoulbird) August 15, 2019
To the World he was Nipsey! To his kids he was DADDY! Happy 1st Birthday in the Essence!🥰😇. We hate the way you left but we know YOU MADE THE VICTORY LAP! Praying for all those who knew him personally everyday but especially today. We Love you @NipseyHussle #TMC 🏁🏁🙏😇 pic.twitter.com/X0xySBvGi3
— divineLIB (@DivineLib) August 15, 2019