Nipsey Hussle leaves behind legacy of artistry, activism

Rapper Nipsey Hussle is depicted. (Via the New Yorker)

Unfortunately, in the hip-hop industry, the deaths of major artists have been common, and Nipsey Hussle — legal name Ermias Ashgedom — is the latest member of that haunting and upsetting list.  Thirty three is a very young age to die, and his murder cut off a budding career that was glimmering with excellence. While everyone may not have been familiar with Nipsey Hussle’s music, he was an inspiration and role model to friends, family and fans alike.  As a musician and a social figure, Nipsey Hussle contributed so much to his community and will be missed by many for a very long time.

Hussle did not have a short music career, spanning nearly 15 years. Starting off by self-releasing mixtapes, Hussle caught the attention of rappers like Drake, Snoop Dogg and YG, all of whom he collaborated with in the first five years of his career. Over the years, his two standout projects were Crenshaw” (2013) and Victory Lap” (2018). Crenshaw” was free for download and only made profit from physical copies; Only 1,000 copies were available, for $100 a piece.  The mixtape boasted guest features from Rick Ross and Dom Kennedy, among others. Victory Lap,” Hussle’s debut studio album, was unquestionably one of the best rap albums of last year, assisted by rappers like Kendrick Lamar, Buddy, Puff Daddy and The-Dream. Cuts like “Last Time That I Checc’d” (feat. YG) and “Hussle & Motivate” demonstrated Hussle’s raw energy, while emotionally powerful songs like “Blue Laces 2” and “Double Up” (feat. Belly & Dom Kennedy) showcased Hussle’s multifaceted talent, and their effect is only amplified by his passing. Without a shadow of a doubt, Victory Lap” deserved its Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album.

Beyond music, many people appreciated Hussle for his generosity to his home city of Los Angeles. Early on, he saw the negative effect on gangs in his personal life and his community, which inspired him to give back and uplift his community. He invested in improving local schools and public art projects, as well as supposedly paid funeral expenses to those who were victims of gun violence. He advocated for economic opportunity and growth in lower-income neighborhoods where he grew up. Marathon Clothing, Hussle’s own clothing store and the location where he was murdered, stood in an old strip mall that he had purchased. In the future, he had planned to help redevelop that area and turn it into additional housing for low-income families. He also formed Destination Crenshaw, where he partnered with Los Angeles Council members to honor the community with services and celebrations. If there’s one thing to take away from Nipsey Hussle’s contributions, it’s that he truly cared for the city that shaped him and made it an effort to better the conditions of the people living in the area.

The world is being very vocal about Hussle’s death, and many things have been done to ensure that Nipsey Hussle’s name will not be forgotten.  For example, as of April 4, over 370,000 people have visited Change.org to sign a petition in an effort to change the name of the intersection between Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue to “Nipsey Hussle Way.” 

Rapper Dave East held a candlelight vigil in New York, where he gave a speech that went viral.

“A sucker took out a real king to this era,” East said in his speech. “I was a kid when Big [the Notorious B.I.G] and 2Pac died, so I couldn’t feel that. I feel this shit, man.” On Twitter, many fellow musicians tweeted on his passing, sending their thoughts and prayers to his family.  

Even the U.S. Congress has gotten involved in the effort to immortalize Hussle. Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) proposed that his philanthropic efforts should be entered into the Congressional Record, where “it will be a part of United States history forever.” It’s a hopeful thing to see that people of all kinds are appreciating Nipsey Hussle’s life, sending their condolences and putting in valiant efforts to immortalize his memory. His music will be played for decades to come, and his character is one that all should look up to.


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