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Nipsey Hussle’s Last Gift Is Inspiration for Change

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He was born Ermias Joseph Asghedom, became the legend as Nipsey Hussle and in death, the man is now a martyr.

He advocated, invested, collaborated, created and gave to fight the very violence that took his life Sunday. He opened his heart and wallet regularly to better the lives of people living in his community – the impact of his good deeds rippled out far beyond South Los Angeles, inspiring countless others to take on the work of making the places we live in better for all. With a gun shot, the community and the world around it lost who can’t be described as anything less than a damn good man.

Nipsey Hussel. Photo courtesy of DJBooth

The circumstances surrounding the day he died only serve to bolster his reputation. He had gone to his own store, Marathon Clothing in Hyde Park, without notifying his security detail. There, he met up with an old friend who was just released after 20 years of incarceration. They were there to pick out some clothes to make sure his friend looked and felt good when he went to see family and friends for the first time. Hussle was there just being him, just being a friend, just helping in any small way he could to make his buddy’s life that day just a little bit better. In the parking lot of his own store, standing with his friend who was tasting freedom for the first time in two decades, he was gunned down.

Both his friend and a nephew who drove him Sunday were also injured in the attack. It was everything in that moment that Hussle relentlessly fought to change in life, and he died as a tragic example of what gun violence can do to and take from us.

Los Angeles police have a suspect in custody who, yes, has gang affiliations, but reducing Hussle’s death to a trivial gang rivalry borders on ridiculous. He was loved by people from all affiliations, by people of all colors, so to speak. Hussle was instrumental and vocal about the need to curb gang violence – in fact, he had recently reached out to the Los Angeles Police Department to arrange a meeting in collaboration with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation company to address that exact topic. The meeting was scheduled to occur Monday.

Jay-Z, Hussel’s family and Los Angeles Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff have committed to go forward with the plan to discuss ways to reduce gang violence in the city. They will continue his work as the best way to honor the late rapper.

Hussle lived a remarkable 33 years and left an imprint on the world for the good he did. The Grammy-nominated artist saw beyond his own fame and never looked past where he came from and how he could use his success to make life better for others. Social media has been inundated with accounts of his good deeds – whether he was updating neighborhood playgrounds on his own dime, buying kids shoes or paying for funerals when families could not afford them, he spent his fame every day to make other people’s lives a little easier. He was respected by neighborhood kids, the hip-hop community, religious leaders, gang members and police – there aren’t many people who have the ability to build those bridges, but he did and was loved for it, and he inspired others to try.

The best way to honor a man who gave his energy and life the way he did is to continue that work in any way we can. Below are just a few local organizations you can get involved with that do the kind of good Hussle strived for:

  • HipHopForChange, Inc.: The non-profit empowers and educates youth, and advocates for positive messaging and change in the hip hop community. They create grassroots programs, volunteer and raise funds to help poor and marginalized people in the Bay Area with educational opportunities and micro-grants and often collaborate with other organizations in order to make sure the hip hop community is represented positively in broad discussions.
  • Oakland Unite: You can support the work this city-based program, funded under voter-approved Measure Z, advocates for with time or money, and either can go far to help create a safer Oakland, free from violence of all kinds. The group hopes to decrease the number of homicides, intervenes with at-risk youth and invests in safety programs.
  • Dope Era: Mistah F.A.B.’s retail line is just one endeavor of many the local rapper has taken on. Yes, you can shop there for a fit but by doing so, you are supporting the philanthropy work he’s involved in. He’s been known to take schoolchildren to the movies, to let youth congregate in his store as he lifted them up with motivational mentor talks. He’s earned himself a reputation as a man of the people and supporting his clothing line can only help fund his other charitable work – so buy yourself a shirt and support some good deeds.

Hussel was once quoted as saying:

 “Instead of trying to build a brick wall, lay a brick everyday. Eventually you’ll look up and you’ll have a brick wall.”

If we all just lay one brick, we can help make sure his life, big heart and great deeds do not go in vein.

Rest in Power.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.