Nipsey Hussle: A stolen future
NipseyHussle, the Eritrean Grammy nominated rapper and entrepreneur, was fatally shot in Los Angeles, California on Sunday March 31st 2019; he was 33 years old.
The suddenand senseless murder of ErmiasAsghedom, famously known as NipseyHussle, has shocked the world, to say the least.
Hussle, who before anything was a beloved son, brother, father and husband, was fatally shot outside his store ‘Marathon’ in Crenshaw, Los Angeles.
Nominated for a Grammy in 2019 for his debut album Victory Lap, on which he poetically spoke about his upbringing in a low-class neighbourhood which led him down a path affiliated with LA’s most notorious gangs, but also promoted the importance of self-ownership and community. An example of some of his lyrics across his album/mixtapes and the meaning behind them are:
“Royalties, publishing, I own masters”. NipseyHussle talks of the ownership he has over his music, something he was very passionate about and took great proud in. Artists owning the master copy to their music meanthat they get to keep creative control over their music as well as revenue.
“I heard them say gang violence is a problem and they think that more prisons are a step to resolve it”. Although Nipsey had admitted to having ties to the notorious gang called ‘cripes’ as young boy, he is better known to advocate for ending gang violence in the neighbourhood he grew up. In fact, Nipsey was reported to have a meeting scheduled with the LA police commissioner on April 1st, 2019, to discuss ways in which they could help end gang violence as well as help the youth.
“I say it’s worth it, I won’t say it’s fair. Find your purpose, or you’re wasting air”. Hussle echoes the importance of never giving up, and also acceptinglife’s hustle;and how having the dedication to achieve greatness requires both mental strength and the acceptance of the importance of working twice as hard as your counterpart to achieve your purpose might not seem fair but will be worthyof the struggle at the end.
Despite his past, Nipsey proved to be an example of hope and greatness, manoeuvring his way from a gang-affiliated life to community activism and philanthropy. A pillar of knowledge to the world and his community, he invested in local black-owned businesses, as well as real estate within the Crenshaw District area.
‘Marathon’ the store he opened alongside his brother Sam in 2017, stemmed from his desire to promote commerce in low-income urban areas using smart technology with brick-and-mortar retail. The store allows customers to access exclusive music, interviews, documentaries, etc. by first buying an item of clothing and then using their phones to scan the tag on the item of clothing via their marathon app, which will then unlock certain features.
In 2018 he co-founded Vector 90, a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) focused centre with a combined work-space for underprivileged youth in the neighbourhood he grew up in. Wanting to move away from the narrative “follow the athlete, follow the entertainer”, he aimed to bridge the gap of diversity within STEM-related fields and use Vector 90 as a pipeline between underrepresented groups and corporate entities in the Silicon Valley.
He shifted the lane for underrepresented groups and exposed them to a new narrative, in which they not only could dream to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk but also acquire the tools, education, techniques, and training to be them and if not better.
The lane of underrepresented groups included many American-born Eritreans and Ethiopian young men, who believed Nipsey created a lane of representation for them, and also inspired them to strengthen their mental ability and knowledge.
Growing up with the culture of their motherland being embedded into them by their parents, whilst simultaneously learning and adapting to a new culture, unbeknown and in some cases unaccepted by their parents, is challenging to say the least. The clash in culture could be seen as the driving force to which leads some of these young men to walk away from the culture of the motherland they hardly know and step into a new culture to which they are a First-generation of.
Many parents raise their children with the idea that they are not black, but Ethiopian/Eritrean, not understanding the fact that when their kids identify themselves as black, they are not rubbing away their culture or their heritage, instead they are pointing out that no matter where they are from (ethnic origin), when it comes down to it, the countries within the western world they chose to birth them in, will view them as such.
For many parents, Nipsey may have just been a rapper, an entrepreneur or someone their children looked up to with no knowledge as to why, maybe just an indication of their shared heritage.
To their children, he was a living example of a black man, rich in culture. May he forever rest in peace!
Ed’s Note: The writer is a junior News reporter, who holds BA in journalism from the University of The Arts, based in London. She can be contacted via her email address: [email protected].
Contributed by Mary Mulugeta Asseratte