Who Is Nipsey Hussle?

Photo: Instagram
Who Is Nipsey Hussle?

Hip-hop fans are in shock today after the shooting death of rapper and business owner Nipsey Hussle on March 31, 2019. He and two others were shot on Sunday and the suspect is still at large. He was 33 years old.

The Grammy-nominated rapper was shot several times at close range outside of the clothing store he owned in South Los Angeles. A suspect is described as a young, black male who shot the rapper and two other people before fleeing in a waiting car. At the moment, police are assuming this is a gang-related incident. Hussle, a former gang member who spoke out against gang violence was scheduled to meet with police this week to talk about gang violence reduction efforts.

He leaves behind his partner Lauren London and two children.

Who was Nipsey Hussle? Read on for more details.

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1. Early life

Hussle was born Ermias Asghedom in Los Angeles. His mother was American while his father was an immigrant from Eritrea, a country in the eastern part of Africa. He spoke about trying to learn about his father’s culture to Complex in 2010, saying “But as I got older, my pops tried to keep me involved with the culture by telling me the stories of the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, how he came to America, and about our family back home, because all that side of my family, my aunties, grandparents, is in Africa. When I went back home in 2004, I went for three months. That was my first time in Africa at all. My first time meeting my Granny, aunties, and cousins.”

2. Gang involvement

When Hussle was a teenager, he joined the Rollin 60s a gang associated with the Crips. In a 2018 interview, he said, “We dealt with death, with murder. It was like living in a war zone, where people die on these blocks and everybody is a little bit immune to it."

"I guess they call it post-traumatic stress, when you have people that have been at war for such a long time. I think L.A. suffers from that because it’s not normal yet we embrace it like it is after a while.”

Later, he noted that his experience as a gang member brought a different perspective to his work as a rapper, saying " I feel like I'm an ambassador. Not just to pump myself or none of that, but nobody ain't, other than Snoop, and Snoop's my homeboy, and he comes from a different era, but as far as my generation and where we came from, I don't know nobody in the streets and was active with this gangbang sh-t like I was and my homie was...We were just out here with the sh-t for real." 

3. Music

Ultimately, Hussle’s real love was music and his career took off in the mid-2000s. He dropped his first mix-tape, Slauson Boy Volume 1 in 2005. He followed that up with Bullets Ain't Got No Name, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 in 2008 and released his first single, "Hussle in the House” in 2009.

His other albums include The Marathon, The Marathon Continues, Crenshaw, Mailbox Money,  and his debut studio album Victory Lap. Along the way, he collaborated wit Snoop Dogg and Drake. Victory Lap was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in 2019.

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4. Community organizing

Hussle was trying to give back to the community where he grew up. He owned a number of businesses in the neighborhood and residents spoke fondly of him, telling reporters that he donated money and clothing to the local schools and made sure to offer jobs to local residents when they were struggling.

L.A. City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson released a statement about his local impact, saying “Hussle had a vision of a neighborhood built for and by the sons and daughters of South L.A. During his life, he moved from shadows into the bright hope of freedom and community revitalization.”

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5. Violent end

Police think that the shooting was gang related, possibly even because of Hussle’s commitment to ending gang violence in his neighborhood. After his death, LA Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff tweeted “We (@LAPDChiefMoore and I ) were meeting, at the request of  @NipseyHussle with him and @rocnation tomorrow at 4pm to talk about ways he could help stop gang violence and help us help kids. I’m so very sad.” 

In his very last tweet, Hussle himself wrote "Having strong enemeis is a blessing,” leaving some fans to wonder if he knew he was in danger before his death.

Nipsey Hussle leaves behind his fianceé, actress Lauren London and his two daughters, as well as legions of fans and supporters.

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.