Remembering Nipsey Hussle
On April 11, in the African American tradition, a homecoming took place for Ermias Asghedom (aka Nipsey Hussle), who had been shot and killed in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Los Angeles on March 31. Tens of thousands of people, from youth to grandparents, partied in the streets as his casket made a 25-mile procession through the streets of South Central, Watts and the Crenshaw district.
The love shown for Nipsey Hussle came in part from the music he made as a Grammy-nominated rapper. But only part. Nip was a product of the streets and relied on the very community he came from to inspire him, raise him, and financially support him. He turned this around to raise up and financially support that community.
He developed numerous businesses to provide for youth, the poor and others in the community. He was known to give away clothes from his clothing store to parolees, not to mention going to court to assist people from the neighborhood facing trial. Nipsey sold his CDs for $100 or gave them away to those who couldn’t pay.
Nip was a gang member who made music and videos with rival gangs. At the memorial for him, in front of 20,000 people at Staples Center, Snoop Dogg gave a moving tribute, noting that “For those of you who knew Nipsey Hussle personally, you knew that he had nothing but love for every gang member from Southern California, I don’t care what neighborhood you were from.”
Nipsey Hussle was from an immigrant Eritrean family and so it was no surprise that during the 2016 presidential campaign he and fellow rapper YG put out a video called “Fuck Donald Trump.” The video spoke from the point of view of the streets (“Speaking for some people that you probably ain’t know”) and its context was the people vs. the police.
Above all, the video, which has been viewed by 22 million people, is filled with the spirit of unity which defined Nipsey Hussle’s life. It begins with the words. “Separation is the enemy,” then continues:
It wouldn’t be the USA without Mexicans
If it’s time to team up then shit, let’s begin
White people feel the same as my next of kin
Carvell Holloway is a music teacher in Compton, California.