On Sunday, March 31st, the world lost visionary, Grammy-nominated rapper, community leader and activist, philanthropist, entrepreneur, partner to Lauren London and father of two young children, Nipsey Russell. While police have identified a suspect in the fatal shooting, many are mourning Nipsey Hussle's’ death and wondering why?
Nipsey Russell was definitely not your average guy. While many who make it out the hood leave and never turn back, or give back from afar, Nipsey Russell was different. Not only did he invest his time, energy, money, and resources into the people and community that he grew up in but he stayed in the community. Nipsey Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom grew up in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles. In 2005, he released his first mixtape and went on to release several other projects. His most recent album, Victory Lap earned him a Grammy nomination. He used his music as a platform not only to speak about his past involvement in the gang the Rollin’ 60s but his rise out of that life and to spread positive messages of Black empowerment.
In 2017, Nipsey Hussle bought real estate in the Crenshaw District (with DJ Khaled as a partner), including what became his clothing store, Marathon. He used his store to hire felons. He also went on to co-found a science- and tech-focused center for underprivileged youth in the neighborhood with a WeWork-style coworking space attached. But Nipsey Hussle had a bigger vision for Crenshaw and other projects that were underway. Nipsey had a meeting scheduled on Monday to meet with the chief of police and a member of the Police Commission to discuss ways to reduce gang violence. He was also working to buy up his entire Crenshaw neighborhood and giving it back to the people who have lived there. Nipsey Hussle partnered with DJ Khaled and several other investors to acquire the leasehold for the Viceroy Santa Monica, a 162-room luxury, beach hotel. That's just the tip of the iceberg in regards to all of the ways in which Nipsey Hussle gave back to his community during his short time on earth.
Eerily enough Nipsey Russell's last tweet was “Having strong enemies is a blessing.” Did he know what was to come? We may never know. A fan of Nipsey Hussle Derrick Evans, 58, said Hussle was more than a rapper. "He tried to show us how to do this. Unite our dollars and do something for ourselves. He bought the whole block. So we need to invest our money now and do what he did, keep it going."Although nothing could ever be done to replace the life that was taken, the work and legacy left behind by Nipsey must continue. Towards the end of 2018, Nipsey wrote a piece for The Players Tribune, about his long journey to success or rather his marathon. In it, he wrote,
Success ain’t about winning, just like losing ain’t a sign you’re not successful. Real failure is getting knocked down and not rising again. The hustle has always been about fighting the best fight, you know what I mean? I had a big brother who was a hustler. My crew’s hustlers. Crenshaw makes hustlers. We respected the game the whole way, and it got us here. And we still making progress. I’m proud of that.
We have an obligation to pass it on, in music and how we live our lives. Crenshaw made me. So I’ll always be in Crenshaw. Always fighting.
The work ain’t done yet. The marathon continues.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.