Nipsey Hussle would have been 34 years young today but his legacy is a lifetime’s worth of hustle and drive that continues to empower communities. Hussle, born Ermias Joseph Asghedom, died March 31, 2019, outside his Crenshaw shop, Marathon Clothing. In the wake of his death, he became a bigger icon in the L.A. community than he already was in life. His major-label debut album “Victory Lap,” was up for a Grammy for Best Rap album earlier this year but despite his success and acclaim he never forgot about his community or his roots.
“I’m not a preacher or none of that, you know,” Nipsey Hussle told Current TV in an interview. But “whenever I talk to my homeboys, I tell ‘em, like, ‘Yeah, man, you know this [hustling] ain’t about nothing. What we doin’ out here is a stepping stone to get to something legitimate.’”
As he was coming up, he sold only 1,000 copies of his 2013 mixtape Crenshaw for $100 each and Jay-Z saw early on that this was something big and bought 100 copies. This was just one indicator of big things to come but the neighborhood Nipsey Hussle loved that inspired that mixtape was also the place of his tragic demise.
The first line off Victory Lap: “I’m prolific, so gifted / I’m the type that’s gon’ go get” sets off the tone not only for the album but for his life. His drive continues to be a source of inspiration and on Nipsey Hussle’s birthday, we’ve compiled 7 of his best motivational quotes.
On going back to his roots
Nipsey Hussle’s shopping center at 3420 West Slauson Avenue in L.A. is currently fenced off as the Nipsey Hussle Tower begins construction. His dedication to that corner of Crenshaw and Slauson, home to Marathon Clothing, will be honored with a mix-use six-story structure combining residential apartments with commercial spaces, per Nipsey’s vision. Several street art dedications have popped up in the area since his death, commemorating his music and dedication to LA.
On being prepared for success
Nipsey Hussle’s success with Victory Lap came after more than a decade of hustle since his 2005 mixtape, “Slauson Boy Volume 1” and the 2008 release of Bullets Ain’t Got No Name mixtape series. Working hard to achieve success is the theme that runs through all 16 tracks of Victory Lap and it was exactly that drive that helped the album debut at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
On staying motivated
In “Hustle and Motivate” he raps, “It’s all I’m tryna do / Hustle and motivate / Choppers a throwaway / Hustle the Hova way / That’s why they follow me, huh? / They think I know the way.” The theme of positivity that permeated the album was part of why Victory Lap is considered a triumphant (unintentional) swan song, a powerful message about immersing yourself in your potential. “Now that he’s gone, and more people discover the immense power of Victory Lap, the radically positive vision must continue to be developed,” Will Shube wrote in a piece for Billboard.
On believing in yourself no matter what
Nipsey Hussle was associated with the Rollin 60s Neighborhood Crips but he still bridged the divide having worked with rappers The Game and YG of Compton and Jay Rock of Watts, all affiliated with the Bloods. “Though some music websites classify Nipsey’s music as gangsta rap, his music spans multiple hip-hop genres, including the g-funk, or gangsta funk,” CNN reported.
On not doubting yourself
Nipsey Hussle’s success is a testament to his drive but his life was a testament to his roots, a product of his environment who embraced that life but also looked past it to what it could be. Hussle’s lyrics illustrate that while he was at one point a tough, street-smart rapper, he was also a spiritual leader, searching for meaning and motivation amid the chaos.
If his legacy proves anything it’s that he was an inspirational figure who spoke not just through his music but through his actions. He motivated kids away from gang violence and worked to improve the neighborhood he grew up in, to make it more than what it was in his youth. “Nipsey Hussle rapped his Black American Dream into existence. Once touted as a future king of West Coast rap, he accepted a smaller role in the hip-hop hierarchy in exchange for autonomy, allowing him to stay connected to his grassroots. He turned stories of gangbanging into a personal fortune, which he subsequently invested into his own local businesses,” wrote Sheldon Pearce for Pitchfork.
On walking his own path
Nipsey Hussle’s contributions to his South LA neighborhood are now archived in U.S. history as part of the Congressional Record, the announcement made a day before his funeral. This act proving that his self-made success took him to the very top where now his work will be forever remembered and proving that just because you leave the hood, doesn’t mean you have to leave it behind. He paved the way and now South L.A. is better because of his efforts and, like the title of his last album suggests, he was victorious.