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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
The Observer

Nipsey Hussle: A voice for good in a world full of evil

On March 31, the world lost a powerful voice for change when 33 year-old hip-hop artist Nipsey Hussle was gunned down in front of the Marathon Clothing in his hometown, Los Angeles. Hussle leaves behind two kids and hundreds of thousands of people whose lives he touched in his short time on Earth.

I can not even begin to describe the wave of sadness that came over me when I scrolled through Twitter and saw people tearing down Hussle’s name and legacy because he was just another “thug” using music to get ahead or because he was a former gang member who got what was coming to him. What makes Hussle’s death different than any other rapper’s? He was someone actively striving to change the harsh reality people both old and young face on a daily basis in South LA, and he was succeeding in doing so.

Hussle provided children growing up in similar circumstances as his own with a role model who knows what it’s like to come up from nothing, and he completely flipped the conception that people who live exemplary lives do so by being perfect.

Hussle was so in the moment in his goodness, and his work should be the example of what we all look to when trying to better our communities. There’s a difference between acquiring wealth and donating a building with one’s name on it versus actually reforming an entire community by tackling the issues it faces in the now.

Far more than being just a Grammy-nominated rapper, Hussle was an entrepreneur in his own community, actively working to create economic growth and monetize connections between tech spaces and inner-city kids. While it is increasingly common for people to abandon their neighborhoods upon the first taste of money or fame, Hussle did the exact opposite, and his legacy as a community builder within South LA is just as important as his career in hip-hop.

In February 2018, Hussle, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom, opened a co-working space and helped to launch a STEM program in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles. His STEM programs integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics in a way that is accessible to students. Through work like this, Hussle was trying to catapult African Americans into positions of power they normally don’t get the time of day in.
As aforementioned, Hussle also opened The Marathon Clothing store in June 2017 with his brother Samiel as the co-owner. Earlier this year, he purchased the entire plaza where he rented space for the store and was planning to knock down the space and rebuild a six-story residential building atop a commercial plaza. By doing this, Hussle was planning on providing his community — one that suffers greatly from homelessness — with an outlet for change. Hussle dedicated his own life to improving life for all residents and even rebuilt a local elementary school’s basketball court because he knew if he was going to be able to make a real difference, it starts at the bottom.
As a former member of the notorious Rollin 60s, which he once described as “one of the biggest Crip gangs of our generation,” Hussle was transparent about his life as a gang member which began when he was just a teenager. He often spoke out about the detrimental effects gang violence and membership has on communities already struggling. It speaks volumes when you realize the kind of intimate relationship a reformed gang member like Hussle had with the LAPD — a relationship that rarely ever comes to fruition.
Yes, Nipsey Hussle was a gang member and did some things I’m sure he wasn’t proud of, but his life as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, community-activist and role model for all of those he came in contact with is what Hussle should be remembered for over anything else.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.