The Legacy Of Nipsey Hussle: Why Are We Mourning So Much?
(AllHipHop Opinion) I just came home and cried. Up until that moment, I was dealing with regular life (ie stress) but found a brief reprieve at my friend’s house. We talked for a few until a good friend that works in the music industry texted me and told me that Nipsey Hussle had been shot. I saw the earliest reports, and the bad news quickly mutated. I prayed hard. I don’t know if any of you pray hard, but that’s not the “thoughts and prayers” garbage we post on social media. This was a real message to God for supreme favor for Nipsey Hussle.
And then it came that it was 6 shots that hit Nipsey. And then it was one person dead. And then it was confirmed that Nipsey Hussle was dead, which by this time, I was home slumped and dejected on the couch teary-eyed. But, it didn’t get any better. There was a video of the murder, which I did not watch. And it happened in front of his child, some reports said. And, perhaps, it was an inside job. Dr. Sebi was trending. Everything that Nipsey Hussle was, did, was doing, dreamed about, loved gradually overtook my timelines, my conversations, my texts, and my life. The outpouring of collective grief and shock was like nothing I have seen since Pac and Big.
But why? You know, the fact is through the years, Hip-Hop has lost a number of artists, who do not need naming at this time. Apathy and indifference are real and a lot of people simply didn’t care when those artists died tragically. Nipsey was different. So very different.
He had an old school work ethic with new school innovation
Although he appeared to be new to the games due to new accolades like Grammy nominations and GQ spreads, Nipsey’s hustle was lengthy and immaculate. He grinded with over 10 mixtapes and compilation albums that lead up to his opus Victory Lap. On top of that, he connected to people in a real way, all the while using technology. So when you see him trending on social media platforms, you can see countless interviews that underscore exactly how long Ermias Davidson Asghedom had been grinding. He had vision.
He was real
“We lost a real one.” That phrase or some variable of it verberated all over the universe when talking about Nipsey Hussle. Like Tupac before him, he was able to touch multiple facets of our lives. He had the respect of the streets. He touched people intellectually. He was progressive. Most of all, he was about action. So, the idea of “real” has different meanings to different people and Nipsey Hussle touched on them all. My friend, who shockingly had never heard of Nipsey, was an instant fan after seeing what he was all about. LeBron James mourned Nipsey. Quite frankly, this man was the realest of his generation and beyond. You’d be hard pressed to name a rapper or Hip-Hop mogul of any era who made moves comparable to Nipsey’s. He was extremely rare and, based on a lot of the chatter, perhaps too real.
He gave back to the community
Nipsey Hussle was assassinated in his own community in South Central Los Angeles. Much has been made of this. While I am not completely familiar with the dynamics in this area, it is also not fully foreign either. The guy was making an earnest attempt - through action - to uplift the community that produced him. A known Crip, Neighborhood Nip was always talking about this and, at the time of his death, he was doing it too. I first met Nipsey in 2012 in Los Angeles on a panel, talking to kids. He was on stage, with frayed cornrows, which cracked me up. However, I was mesmerized watching him speak so eloquently about how he rose and how these young people could apply it to their lives. I’ve known scores of conscious rappers and people that have talked the good talk. Nipsey walked it exactly how he talked it.
He was dope
Most people know that Nipsey was musically and lyrically gifted. That is also a common trait most people share in Hip-Hop. When I say Nipsey was dope, I mean his light. When I say he was dope, I mean as a human being, his presence added value to our collective lives, whether or not you met him in the physical. People are mourning Nipsey in unison. That is so difficult in these days and times of fragmentation and apathy. When he decided to sell his album/mixtape Crenshaw for $100, it sounded utterly insane. But, he sold all 1,000 copies (which included bonuses like signed notebooks) in 24 hours. Even Jay-Z copped 100 copies of Crenshaw. What I didn't know was, Nipsey - a self-proclaimed "book junkie" - was inspired by the book "Contagious," which chronicles a man that sold a Philly cheesesteak for $100. I don't know anybody that thought Nipsey was wack, only dope for a myriad of reasons.
He was still rising
I shamelessly admired Nipsey like a rocket that had left Earth and was approaching the stars. Few people understand the amount of determination, confidence, resolve and sheer moxie it takes to overcome...everything. As a Black man in this world, there seem to be only a few pathways to succeed. At the time of his death, Nipsey had invested in Vector90, a massive workspace that also offered a space to teach South Central youth STEM. He sought to expand this effort throughout the nation.
He embodied: buy back the hood. When he was cut down, he was in his own community at his own store, in person. He was buying properties and investing in the hood, something he had preached about from day one. As rich as some of us get, as well-connected, affluent, popular and beloved...most don't do this.
Notably, he also made it public that he was producing a documentary on Dr. Sebi, the well-regarded healer. When Nipsey was murdered, Dr. Sebi began trending as well, because of the larger, more dangerous implications of disrupting big pharma business. Nipsey knew the potential danger of this, stating - God forbid if something happened to him - "Ya'll better ride." Some dismiss it as pure conspiracy jibber jabber, but others swear by it.
Lastly, we saw the sort of man he had evolved into through how he treated his love Lauren London, his relationship with his daughter and his overall love of his people. In these days and times, this is a Revolutionary Love that, when disrupted, hurts us all. My cousin texted me, stating that he no longer wants to rap now that Nipsey is dead. Some friends have lost more of the hope they once had as young people. And, we all pray for the family and close friends of Ermias Asghedom - for healing, restoration and the strength to continue.
Exactly one week ago, I posted something about Nipsey Hussle, where I called him “a national treasure” in the post. It’s still there. I meant those words. I watched it over and over and over. I really, really appreciated this king and I had weird emotions when we realized he was dead. He received the kind of mourning reserved for family members. It still makes no sense. I’m not saying anything about his murder. We don’t know and, as bright as his light was, I’m not putting anything past anybody. I can’t fully imagine the levels he ascended to. Nip already won. But he was elevating himself past rapper and artist. That’s when they come.