By Alysha Conner | DTLA Weekly
Yesterday, thousands of friends, family, and fans paid tribute to the late, great Nipsey Hussle at his “Celebration of Life” memorial service, held at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Local news and live streams live broadcast the memorial service for those who were not able to attend.
For members of the West Coast and fans nationwide, Hussle’s passing has embodied times much like the somber and lost feelings when the legendary Tupac Shakur was murdered in 1996. Hussle often referred to himself as the “Tupac of my generation.”
Hussle’s memorial began with a live band playing singles from his 2018 Victory Lap album, which was nominated for “Best Rap Album” at the 2019 Grammy Awards, “Right Hand 2 God” and “Victory Lap.” The memorial service consisted of scripture readings from Minister Reid Rich, Pastor Shep Crawford, and Father Thomas Uwal. Family tributes given during the memorial service comprised from Hussle’s mother Angelique Smith; life partner Lauren London; brother Samuel Asghedom; sister Samantha Smith; and father Dawit Asghedom. Hussle’s 7-year-old daughter, Emani Asghedom, and 2-year-old son, Kross Asghedom, also made an appearance on stage amid the memorial. London’s 9-year-old son with ex-boyfriend Lil Wayne, Cameron Carter, and Hussle’s nephew, Khalil Kimble, joined them as well.
Karen Civil, Hussle’s business partner and friend, shared a heartfelt letter personally written and sent by former president Barack Obama to Hussle’s family on Thursday morning. Friends of Hussle including Snoop Dogg, YG, and DJ Mustard, among others gave remarks at the memorial service. Marsha Ambrosius, Anthony Hamilton, Jhene Aiko, and Stevie Wonder were among the memorial musical performers. Additionally, multiple video presentations were displayed.
Following the service, Hussle took his final “Victory Lap” around his native South LA, in the form of a 25.5-mile procession. The procession trailed through LA County cities including Inglewood, Watts, and passing by Hussle’s The Marathon Store in the Crenshaw District. Thousands of people lined the streets of South LA to honor Hussle along his route to the Angelus Funeral Home on Crenshaw Blvd.
Hussle’s birth name Ermias Joseph Asghedom when translated means “God Will Rise.” On several websites, Hussle is described as a rapper, songwriter, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and community activist. Hussle’s music “marathon” can be traced as far back to his first recorded mixtape, Slauson Boy Volume 1. In his early years, he was known for selling his CDs out of a car trunk on the streets throughout the Crenshaw District. Prior to Victory Lap’srelease, many were unaware of Hussle’s true potential.
Moreover, there still remains controversy around the trajectory of Hussle’s impact and influence. Here are six song lyrics released prior to Victory Lap, that may reflect why we remember the true story of Nipsey Hussle.
#1 “Crenshaw & Slauson (True Story)”
“I had a vision that nobody else could see/Sold my shit to D-Mac, a little less than 10 Gs/Brought my grocery bag of cash back to Blacc Sam/He matched a n***a, next day we went to Sam Ash/We bought a Pro Tools and a microphone/Studio was far from plush but them lights was on/Couple hunned thousand stashed at my mama’s home Real estate in Atlanta, but ain’t nobody know.”
Hussle was notoriously known for his affiliation with the Rollin 60s Neighborhood Crips, and often referred to as “Neighborhood Nip.” Although he was involved in a gang, Hussle had the vision at a young age to become a well-versed rapper, stack his money, and help uplift the Crenshaw District. He had recently purchased the entire strip mall where The Marathon Store is located and intended to redevelop it into a mixed-use residential and commercial complex.
LA City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson announced renaming the Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue intersection to “Ermias ‘Nipsey Hussle’ Asghedom Square” on April 9, in honor of Hussle getting shot and killed at his clothing store near the intersection.
On April 10, Congresswoman Karen Bass, representing LA’s 37thDistrict, entered Hussle into the congressional record. During her speech on the House Floor, Congresswoman Bass said, “As a humble visionary he saw the overlooked, and welcomed the dismissed. He reminded our community that the power we hold is the power of where we come from, and that awareness of that power can never be taken from us. He will be remembered by South Los Angeles as a protector, inspirator, father, brother, and an unabashed son of South Los Angeles. For all that he was given he gave back, and for that legacy, South Los Angeles has been changed forever.”
#2 “I Do This”
“Longwinded, running through this life like it was mine/Never settling, but setting every goal high/One thousand burpees on the path to my own destruction or success/But what is a mistake without the lesson?/See, the best teacher in life is your own experience/None of us know who we are until we fail/They say every man is defined by his reaction to any given situation/Well who would you want to define you?/ Someone else or yourself?/ Whatever you do, homie, give your heart to it/ And stay strong”
Hussle was best known for his brands and life slogans “The Marathon Continues” and All Money In Records. In all of his work, Hussle was dedicated to motivating people to both endure and thrive. He encouraged people to not just live a purposeful life but to leave a legacy as well. Hussle also understood the power of telling his own narrative, and he used his music to influence others to do the same.
#3 “Status Symbol”
“Eyes bloodshot, I don’t ever sleep/My n****s act on instinct, we don’t ever think/When confronted with a problem, we don’t ever flee/We connected at the bottom like the letter V”
Hussle will forever be respected for his legacy of becoming a self-made millionaire, birthed out of the Crenshaw District. Although he was able to pull himself out of the trenches, he never left his loved ones behind. He remained loyal to those he had known before he became famous and often did what he could to help them rise-up alongside him. Lauren London concluded her speech at Hussle’s memorial service saying, “In Hussle words, because he always used to say this: The game is going to test you but never fold, stay 10 toes down. It’s not on you, it’s in you and what’s in you they can’t take away.”
#4 “County Jail”
“Sh** ain’t looking good, still I keep the faith/Sittin’ in this county jail tryna fight my case/Running through these fades, I just miss my daughter face/They bring me out my cell sixty minutes every day/Back and forth to court, bank on n****s in these tanks/Laughin’ with my homies ’bout them days when we was raised/You only down the street but seem so far away/As I’m sitting in this county jail tryna fight my case”
Hussle went through a life of struggle, hustle, and getting in trouble with law enforcement. However, Hussle found purpose in his pain through music. His music resides as a relatable source of encouragement for many people struggling in the court and prison systems worldwide. He was also an emblem of gang unity for the world, by often doing business with rappers from rival gangs. Snoop Dogg spoke on Hussle’s advocacy for unity during his speech at Hussle’s memorial service stating, “I was explaining it to him. … You made records with YG, you make records with Game, you make records with Problem. You making records with Bloods. … Cripping and Bloods making records and y’all really bonding, y’all really love each other. Y’all pulling up together, you’re in their neighborhoods, you’re loving them and they’re loving you. You are a peace advocate, Nip.”
#5 “Ocean Views”
“Told you ’08 this s**t was ours, gettin’ this cake/Yeah n***a, to gettin’ more/Look at this world young n***a, it’s really yours/N***a this really mine, my n****s is really ford/Them buildings is really high, them cars is really foreign /And all I see is Ocean views, small circle it’s the chosen few/I wrote it down and I followed through”
As depicted through several of his songs, Hussle raps about having visions of his success with living out his dreams long before they came to fruition. His music continues to further motivate people from all walks of life, like students, working folks, and gangstas, to also envision themselves being successful. According to his mother at the time of her speech at the memorial, she said Nipsey was known to have “an aura around him that if you sat with him, it gave you power and energy. It filled up your spiritual tank.”
“Trust funds for Emani, in case this life take me I live it/To the fullest never let this life break me/Thus far has been a cold demonstration/Number one question now is did the fame change me/F***ing right young n**** should I still be gang banging?/Wait hold up.. hold that thought, take these shots/An tell my n****s S.I.P. the marathon don’t stop/Before I sell my soul I’ll give my life”
Hussle was a loving father, husband, son, grandson, and brother before the music. The wellness of his family was always his top priority. Loyalty and respect were his core values. During the memorial service, Hussle’s mother mentioned that in the months prior to his death, he had been more attentive to the family. He started visiting his grandmother every day, and sending text messages to his mother saying, “Hey Mom. I love you. I’m just sending you some positive energy for your day. I hope that you have a beautiful day,” explained Hussle’s mother Angelique Smith. He was also known to be prophetic in a sense, always knowing that he would die before his time. However, he never let the fear of death stop him from conquering his dreams.