What Can We Take Away from the Life and Death of Nipsey Hussle?
It does not take much effort to find the dark side of the murder of rapper and entrepreneur, Ermias Asghedom, more affectionately known as Nipsey Hussle. It is obvious that not just Los Angeles, but the world lost a visionary when this young man was slain. What I would like to focus on is what Nipsey would have wanted us all to focus on — his legacy and what it means to each of us, individually and collectively.
Like most of us, Nipsey’s life and his journey were complicated by difficulties, poor decisions and a desire to become more. No matter how much we try to honor the good that he did and celebrate the manner in which he inspired millions, there will be those who will insist on pointing to his earlier years and his gang affiliation. They do this without a lucid perspicacity of the dynamics at play. They fail to understand the process of growth and evolution.
For some, it is simply easier to see the bad than the good because the good convicts one to take an introspective examination of themselves and make the necessary changes. Nipsey was special — not because he always made the right decisions but because he was determined to become a better man.
All you had to do was sit down and listen to him for five minutes and you knew he was ahead of his time. Nipsey gave the term “forward thinking” an entirely new meaning. For instance, the idea of creating a limited number of his mixed tapes and selling them for $100 and eventually for $1,000 was absolutely brilliant. He understood the power of demand in the midst of scarcity.
For those who insist on pointing to Nipsey’s gang affiliation, I would suggest looking at how he was directly impacting the violence on the streets and the recidivism rate of gang members from all gangs. Nipsey staff were those no one else would hire — gang members and street criminals. He not only gave them a job but he exposed them to a new vision for their lives.
I was not a fan of Nipsey’s earlier music. It had nothing to do with his skills, he was gifted in that area. You see, I am 20 years his senior and I had outgrown the idea of the street life and all of its pitfalls years ago. However, I did notice something that intrigued me. Nipsey’s music was evolving with his mindset. Where others would have studied the market analysis that revealed that violence, drugs, and sex are what sells in hip hop, Nipsey’s music evolved to bring a message of hope and change. It reflected his own vision for himself, his family, and his community.
Something else that made this young King so special is his accessibility. While some will say that his accessibility is what got him killed, I will argue that without that connectivity to the community, he would not have been as powerful and influential as he was.
Nipsey’s story is better than fiction. He grew up to purchase the strip mall where store owners used to run him off from every day. He made that mall a safe haven from a troubled youth. He used it to create economic opportunities — not only for himself but for countless others.
If all of this isn’t enough to cause you to admire this brother, take into consideration that he funded a STEM program in his community for youth who would not have otherwise been exposed to it. He then created a co-working space for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Most importantly, Nipsey was a present and active father to his children and protector to his Queen, Lauren London.
So, what can we take away from all of this? How can we honor him beyond the social media posts and the sharing of memes? We must abandon empty conversation and move into action. Nipsey has provided, through his actions, a blueprint for success in the Black community. No matter where you live in this country, there is a Black community that needs you to become directly involved.
While they may not get the notoriety that Nipsey has garnered, there are people in virtually every city that are invested in doing what Nipsey was doing in L.A. Support these individuals — connect with them, learn from them and help them expand. Take a look at all that Nipsey has done and was planning to do and find something that wakes up your passion. Then, get to work on it in your home, your community, and your city.
We honor Nipsey best by continuing his work. Take up the mantel and become committed to making your presence felt. While you are doing this, don’t lose sight of why you are doing it. Nipsey was so successful because he had a heart for the work he was doing. The people mattered to him. Yes, he benefitted but he wanted to touch as many people as he possibly could.
Support the Black Men Lead rite of passage program for young Black males at https://www.theodysseyproject21.top/black-men-lead or you can contribute directly through the Cash app at $TheOdysseyProject21