Nipsey Hussle dies at 33, legacy lives on


A man touches a mural in Los Angeles depicting Hussle on April 2, two days after his death. Courtesy of Associated Press.

Nipsey Hussle’s death has not just been reverberating throughout his neighborhood of Crenshaw, but throughout the entire country.

“I didn’t even know who Nipsey was until his death,” said Sandra Augustyn, a business major at DePaul. “Every time I get on social media now, Nipsey is all over. So, I had to check this out and see who he was. Once I read about him, I was like woah—this guy inspired—he changed people’s lives.”   

Born Ermias Asghedom, 33-year-old Hussle was more than just a rapper. He was more than just a Grammy nominated artist for his label debut album Victory Lap.

He was a leader to his community where he hustled to provide opportunities for black culture to thrive.

When he became successful and famous, he didn’t forget his community of Southside Los Angeles. He made his ties stronger to it and began to reinvest and rebuild.

Hussle was fatally shot in a triple shooting on Sunday afternoon outside of the store he co-owned, Marathon Clothing. He was shot in the head and torso in the same plaza that he sought to create change through to improve his community.

Numerous celebrities, professional athletes and political leaders erupted with disbelief and vocalized their tributes to Hussle through social media.

Professional athletes such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and many more tweeted to pay their tributes to Hussle—who was a huge NBA fan and regularly attended NBA games over the years.

Russell Westbrook scored 20 points, 21 assists, and 20 rebounds over the LA Lakers and dedicated it all to Hussle.

NBA athletes Kawhi Leonard and Dwyane Wade honored Nipsey by writing this on their kicks.

Chris Nasiadka, a freshman computer science major and avid hip-hop fan at DePaul, was devastated when he found out about Hussle’s death.

“I love Nipsey because of what he was trying to do,” Nasiadka said. “Similar to Tupac, he was interested in the community, in positive change and less violence. There are people in the hip-hop community that promote gang-violence, but Nip wanted to reduce it and make this world a better place for future generations.”

There are parallels between Hussle and Tupac Shakur. Both artists rose from street lives and used their fame as platforms to fight injustices, and both became victims of the gun violence they rapped about.

Hussle had a violent past during his long affiliation with the Rollin’ 60s Neighborhood Crips, one of LA’s largest street gangs. In recent years, he distanced himself from the gang and mechanized that violent past by working to empower underprivileged groups in his community through real estate investments. Hussle also co-founded a science and technology center for underprivileged youth.

“He has the utmost respect of the rap community because he made a positive impact,” Nasiadka said. “He showed upcoming rappers and other artists a prime example of how to use their platform for positive change.”

But the immense outpouring of support and praise wasn’t unanimous.

“There’s a complicated sense of feelings,” said Poe Johnson, a professor of African and black diaspora studies. “In one instance he was doing a lot of good work. But as I was talking to my students yesterday—what do we do with the other stuff too—right? He was also someone whose lyrics were homophobic and anti-women. So how do we address these issues?”

Nipsey Hussle at a Golden State Warriors NBA game earlier this year. Courtesy of Associated Press.

Much like his counterparts throughout the hip-hop industry, Hussle’s music is being held to a new standard of what is acceptable and welcome in terms of content. Further, Hussle was unable to fully evolve as an artist, leaving his current discography seem less representative of the philanthropic community member.

“What do we do with someone who was unfinished?” Johnson said. “Now we will never see what that closer to the finished product would look like—so what we have is crystalized in the moment of his death—and the crystallization is both positive and negative.”

That’s just it. Hussle was unfinished. To bring something up that he did in the past is like bringing up how he was a gang member—but he left that lifestyle. He began to give back and improve his community.

Imagine if Hussle was shot before he got the chance to make the impact that he has made on his community that has inspired celebrities and professional athletes as well.

You know you did something right if you were a former Crip, yet you had Los Angeles policemen and political figures commemorating you.

Whether it is a crystallized image or not, Hussle will be best remembered most for his philanthropism and activism to make his community and underprivileged folks thrive.

Apart from his girlfriend Lauren London and children Kross and Emani Asghedom that Hussle left behind, the legacy he embarked continues to radiate through his community and across the nation.