Hip-Hop has lost too many greats to senseless gun violence, and it pains many to have to add Nipsey Hussle to that list.
Nipsey was shot 6 times including 1 to head in front of his own store, in his own neighborhood…by his own peer. Not to mention, a day before he was set to meet with the LAPD to discuss how they could work together in reducing gang violence in the neighborhood.
“When it’s all over all that count is how the story’s told…” — Nipsey Hussle
Nipsey had just released his first official album, Victory Lap, in 2018. The album was Grammy nominated. At just 33 years old, Hussle had become one of the most respected rappers for not only his music, but his business mind and his dedication to bettering his community.
What Nip Meant To The Culture
Nipsey Hussle had risen to become a cultural icon in the hip-hop community. From 2005 up until the present, he released mixtape after mixtape independently. His success happened all but overnight, which is why so many people around the world could relate to him on a deeper level than just music. How else would an artist be able to sell a CD for $100?
When rappers talk about being a “real n*gga”, Nipsey embodied that sentiment. His music reflected his upbringing within the gang culture, but he was still respected by Bloods and Crips, as well as people in the industry. He related to people on a street level and on an intellectual level, specifically regarding his business acumen.
In an industry where people are quick to sign their freedom away for a quick dollar, Nipsey preached ownership. He owned the rights to his music, and often spoke about how rather than settling for record deal, he built his brand big enough on his own so that he could negotiate a partnership with music companies rather than being “owned”.
Rappers talk about so much money that it begs the question, why aren’t they doing more for their own disenfranchised communities?
Everything that we would like rappers to do with all of their money, Nipsey seemed to be doing. After achieving a certain level of success from music, he went back to the block in Los Angeles that he used to sell drugs on, and opened a clothing store along with other businesses. He employed his peers in the area who had trouble finding work elsewhere due to their pasts. He invested in community centers for kids to learn math, science, technology, and the arts. He turned a block once drug infested, into a tourist attraction. He turned himself into a success story that involved ownership, and not forgetting where you came from.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The way Nipsey’s life ended raises many questions for the hip-hop community…After one “makes it”, are they obligated to go back and help their community? Does the content of hip-hop music need less violence? Do black people suffer from self hate so strongly that it is easy for someone to kill another of the same skin color?
After losing one of the our most promising talents in hip-hop, as a culture we must reflect on how this happened, and how we can potentially transform minds to celebrate success stories from our neighborhood rather than hate on them.
XXXTentacion was a rapper killed in his own city. Jam Master Jay was a rapper killed in his own city. Big L was rapper killed in his own city. Bankroll Fresh was a rapper killed in his own city. Nipsey Hussle was killed in his own neighborhood. And that’s just to name a few.
As a culture, it is past time for us to start loving our brothers and sisters in our music. There is no other genre of music that degrades it’s own women more than hip-hop. There is no other genre of music that glorifies killing their neighbor like we see in hip-hop. There is no other genre of music in which artists “beef” with other artists just for marketing purposes like we see in hip-hop.
The best way that we can honor Nipsey Hussle’s life is to live out the values in which he displayed. Work towards owning our own creations. Be an asset to our community whether it be through helping provide opportunities to the youth or helping to provide jobs for other people. And most of all, be an inspiration to other people by the way we live our lives by believing in ourselves and not giving up on ourselves.
Nipsey may have given us his Victory Lap, but it is now up to each and every one of us to continue the marathon. #Themarathoncontinues