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One of rap’s biggest community activists, working on bigger plans — slain by gunshot

The recently slain southside L.A. rapper was also an entrepreneur, a strong supporter of stopping gang violence, and much more.

On a bright Sunday, Grammy-nominee Nipsey Hussle was seen welcoming people into his clothing store, Marathon Clothing, located in the neighbourhood he had grown up in, on West Slauson Ave. One of the guests he welcomed and had personal conversations with was 29-year old Eric Holder. After speaking with Hussle, Holder left the store and waited for the rapper to exit. The two can be seen on security cam footage chatting before Nipsey was gunned down in cold blood.

Another bright spark in the modern day rap community was lost to a fatal shooting. It was a shocking death as Hussle was previously nominated for Best Album of the Year. As a famed rapper, former gang-affiliate gone good, entrepreneur, and a Grammy-nominee, Nipsey’s legacy will live on for many more years to come.

Hussle planned to cater for not just his hometown community, but communities across the nation just like Crenshaw (such as Baltimore, Atlanta and Chicago, says NPO) in many other ways which haven’t gone unnoticed. Nipsey was a very present worker in his community, and a huge embracer of investments as he founded multiple businesses and educational ventures,worked with public schools to rebuild parks, and was a major supporter of Destination Crenshaw, the 1.3 mile long art display, celebrating black culture.

Nipsey was born Ermias Joseph Asghedom on August 15, 1985 in Los Angeles. Coming from Crenshaw–a southside L.A. neighbourhood poisoned by gang violence and poverty–gaining money and success was a rare occurrence. As a youth, he was affiliated with the Rollin 60’s Neighborhood Crips gang, and committed illegal acts that Nipsey described as “done as a survival instinct.” Despite his gang association, Nipsey was determined to make something of himself.

He began his entrepreneurial and rap career by selling his first mixtape Slauson Boy Volume 1, on the streets of Crenshaw out of his car in 2005. When police shut down Nipsey and his brother’s “business” out the back of their cars, selling clothing and music, they were forced to find a real estate unit to sell their products from instead, initiating Nipsey’s entrepreneurial journey. As an avid supporter of stopping gang-violence, Nipsey wanted to help the people within his community. To do this, he opened up various stores, such as Marathon Clothing, within Crenshaw and Slauson’s L-shaped shopping centre to supply work for the impoverished citizens who didn’t have a solid source of income. It was the same shopping centre where he had began, selling his mixtapes from out the trunk of his car.

Nipsey’s Bullets Ain’t Got No Name mixtapes series which was released in 2008, led him to later success as he soon collaborated with rappers Drake, Snoop Dogg and Problem the year later. In more recent years, the southside rapper has made many mixtapes with other fellow artists such as YG, Rick Ross, Slim Thug, and more, including his Crenshaw tape released in 2013. His debut studio album, Victory Lap, dropped in February 2018, which earned Nipsey his first ever Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album of the Year.

Slauson Boy invested the profit he made from his hardwork and music into more real estate instead of spending it on jewelry and “wants.” The rapper believed that “materialistic items are liabilities.” Out of these shops, many have been able to bring their lives back together through the hard work and opportunities that Nipsey has openly handed to others.

He set up a low-cost apartment building for families that couldn’t afford costly rates, according to CBS Los Angeles. Some of the other areas of business included a basic needs store, a seafood restaurant, Steve’s barbershop named after his friend, who’d been murdered the previous year, and a Fatburger restaurant. The Crenshaw community has grown to love the basic needs store and Marathon Clothing, whose clothing featured a proud “Crenshaw” logo. Along with the local citizens who Nipsey hired to work there included new and upcoming musicians and artists.

Along with the jobs and business that Hussle brought to Crenshaw, he also had his focus on something else: encouraging and supporting the personal growth of youth. Nipsey aligned with PUMA to renovate an elementary school playground and basketball court. Professional artists and painters were hired to design the basketball court in a very specific way, exhibiting Nipsey’s morals of respect, courage, and generosity through black cultural art. PUMA provided sneakers to every student in the school. The co-work space he co-founded, Vector90, had a program called “Too Big To Fail” which was set up in order to “encourage design thinking and innovation in youth.” This STEM centre and Maker space connects young talents and “children of colour” so that they can share their ideas among one another, while also introducing them to the STEM outlook of Silicon Valley. Nipsey hoped that Vector 90 would be a “bridge between the inner city and Silicon Valley,” and planned to  replicate its programs in places across the world.

Nipsey Hussle embodied what it means to “remember where you came from.” Alongside the improvements made to Crenshaw, Nipsey also wanted to express Black L.A. in a way never seen before with the Destination Crenshaw project. The project is an open-art museum led by American architectural and design firm, Perkins+Will which stretches 1.3 miles long, representing black culture. This display includes various styles of landscaping, artwork and streetscaping from aspiring local African-American artists, as well as art from world-renowned artists in order to represent and tell the history of black culture in South L.A.

Hussle’s plans were tragically cut short. The suspect in his shooting, Eric Holder, had left the scene in a getaway vehicle. According to police, who later apprehended the driver, she may not have been aware of what Holder had done, as she was later let free. The police quickly identified Holder as a suspect and which was followed by a 48-hour manhunt before LAPD had him arrested. “The rapper and suspect knew each other, and had some sort of personal dispute the day of the shooting, police said, declining to give further details about their relationship,” said CBS News, leaving us with further wonders about more specific motives behind Eric’s act.

Nipsey Hussle’s death is still being discussed through social media and the accounts of celebrities such as Lebron James and Rihanna. In support and memory of the highly-accomplished rapper and entrepreneur that Nipsey Hussle was and the work that he’d done for his community, many events have since been  set up in commemoration. On April 11th, the three hour long “Celebration of Life” memorial was held at Staples Center in Downtown L.A. to remember the Crenshaw artist, which sold out the whole arena. Many celebrities were in attendance, including Snoop Dogg, Russell Westbrook and Stevie Wonder, who were all great friends of Nipsey’s. Former President Barack Obama wrote a letter commemorating Hussle which was read aloud at the memorial, while Lauren London, his widow, also prepared and read a heart-striking eulogy for her husband. Following the service, a 25.5 mile-long funeral procession took place all the way to Forest Lawn Cemetery, where Nipsey’s remains were laid. The streets were said to be packed and traffic holdups were inevitable, according to CBS News. Being a community activist attempting to prevent gang and weapon violence, and trying to spread positivity among hearts across the world, it seems ironic that Nipsey was murdered in such an act. that are. Nipsey has lived this quote time and time again, “Instead of trying to build a brick wall, lay a brick everyday. Eventually you’ll look up and you’ll have a brick wall,” and Nipsey’s brick walls he’s built will never be diminished.

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