Grammy-nominated rapper and community activist Ermias Asghedom, better known by fans as Nipsey Hussle, was shot and killed last weekend outside of his Marathon Clothing store in Hyde Park, Los Angeles, March 31.
The 33-year-old West Coast hip-hop legend leaves behind two children, and longtime girlfriend, Lauren London.
But why was someone so influential, focused, and motivated to spark a change in the community senselessly murdered in broad daylight on the streets of his own neighborhood?
For years now, Nipsey has been working hard at perfecting his blueprint. This includes his record label All Money In – which turns 10 years old next year – his impressive discography, which – until last year – was made up entirely of mixtapes, and his Marathon Clothing brand, among many other ventures.
In 2013, Nipsey was an independent artist making Forbes List headlines for his one-of-a-kind marketing campaign – Proud 2 Pay – selling 1,000 copies of his “Crenshaw” mixtape for $100 each.
The result? $100,000 straight to Hussle’s pocket, 1,000 copies of his mixtape sold in less than 24 hours at a pop-up shop in his hometown, and the interest of Jay-Z, who bought 100 copies.
Nipsey made theme music for your car speakers – the type of music that could get you a speeding ticket just for listening. So, when he dropped his magnum opus, “Victory Lap,” after more than six years in the making, fans were undoubtedly excited.
The long-awaited debut paid off, and the album won a Grammy-nomination for Best Rap album at the 2019 Grammy Awards.
Marathon Clothing opened in June 2017 on the corner of Crenshaw and Slauson, two streets and a moniker Hussle heavily represented through his lyrics and clothing line. This move provided jobs for the community Nipsey grew up in, and not only does he own the store, but also the entire shopping plaza the store is located in.
Hussle, who is no stranger to non-traditional thinking, created something more than your average men’s clothing store. His self-described “smartstore” is a place where customers can go, purchase merchandise, and preview new content from the rapper by using an app.
Nipsey was also focused on bettering his community. This showed when he created a mile-long open-air museum to help revitalize the black community and launched a program called ‘Too Big To Fail,’ that would help provide opportunities in STEM fields to youth in inner city Los Angeles.
An advocate against gang violence, he coincidentally had a gang violence summit with the LA Police Department scheduled for the day after he was murdered, TMZ reported.
A few days after his murder, a suspect was arrested.
TMZ reported that Hussle was at his Marathon Clothing store on that fateful day helping a friend – who had just gotten home from a 20-year prison sentence – get some new clothes before seeing his family later that day. Nipsey didn’t notify his team, or security guard, that he’d be going to the store, and apparently no one from the rapper’s camp knew he had left his house.
This describes the type of person Nipsey was: a selfless, thoughtful, generous rapper-turned business mogul who invested in his community and trust funds for his children, rather than cars or jewelry.
The short amount of words I’m given could never truly put into perspective the essence of Ermias Asghedom. He was someone everyone should strive to be like, and his legacy will live on through all the people he’s inspired.
According to Complex, Hussle’s debut album, “Victory Lap,” is on track to land a top five spot on the Billboard 200 this week, after seeing a 1,773% surge in streams since his untimely passing. It’s projected to move between 40,000 and 60,000 units in sales, which could be more than the week it debuted. The last time the album charted was May 5, 2018.
Although he’s gone, the marathon will always continue…
As Nipsey rapped, “My city teaches people use your pistol, not your brain.”