Nipsey Hussle leaves behind an underappreciated legacy

Ben Borrok, Senior Writer

Rapper and visionary Nipsey Hussle was killed outside of his clothing store, Marathon Clothing, in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, Calif. on March 31. Born Ermias Asghedom to Eritrean-American immigrants, Hussle grew up and eventually became involved in gang activity with the Rollin’ 60s, a subgroup of the Crips. As time wore on, Hussle made a consistent effort to distance himself from the gang. He released his first mixtape by the age of 20, selling his music to anyone who would listen on the corner of Slauson and Crenshaw in the neighborhood where he was raised. Eventually signing to the now defunct Epic Records, Hussle continued to release music that gained admiration from fellow rappers, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Drake.


Many of you were probably wondering the same thing when the news rolled in regarding his death: “Wait, who is Nipsey Hussle again?” It is understandable to have asked that, as he may have only existed on the periphery of most mainstream rap and hip-hop fan’s music knowledge. He never had mainstream success, so to many, it has been surprising to see such an outpour of support and love for the late rapper. While the initial perception of Hussle may be one of a run-of-the-mill rapper with prior gang affiliations, there was so much more to him than what was on the surface.


He didn’t just celebrate and reminisce on his past; rather, Hussle made it his goal to change the lives of those in his home neighborhood of South Los Angeles. He reaffirmed his roots and his commitment to Crenshaw, even as he reached wealth and fame.


Hussle wasn’t killed in front of just any clothing store; he was killed in front of his clothing store. It was right next to his restaurant and his barbershop, where he offered goods and services at affordable price points for his neighbors. He also became heavily involved in STEM programs for underprivileged youth as a measure to keep them off the streets and provide them with the materials needed to jumpstart academic interests. Hussle also used interviews and press to educate others on investing and making smart economic decisions. It was clear that his heart was always with the first people to give him a chance.


It is rare for a rapper to gain such widespread respect like Hussle has in recent years. The Los Angeles Police Department had plans to meet with Hussle in order to create new solutions to reduce gang violence and protect the communities. As police departments tend to be notorious for their violence in communities like Crenshaw, initiating a dialogue between police and community citizens fosters a more peaceful community. In fact, at the police press conference, his death was described as an “assassination.” That word commandeers a great level of respect. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Malcolm X was assassinated. It implies that Hussle stood for something greater than himself; he was a force for good.


Knowing all of this, it is frustrating to see how he was relatively ignored while he was alive. We, as a society, tend to fixate on the negatives in the world. I have talked at length in previous articles regarding the outrage train on social media. We seem to be obsessed with making ourselves angry. As a result, the positive efforts of people like Hussle were not able to ascertain the attention and funding that would have put them at the forefront of social justice.


Mister Rogers said that we should always “look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”  Nipsey Hussle was that helper. His actions deserved to be appreciated and promoted although he will not be able to see the results. Take some time out of your day to listen to his music, research his activism, and find the helpers in your community. If Hussle taught us anything, it was that we are capable of more than you think. The Marathon Continues.


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