Nipsey Hussle walked towards love. In a recent interview, the 33-year-old Grammy-nominated rapper playfully chatted with his girlfriend and mother to his 3-year-old son, Kross, about who was “better” with their baby. “What was Kross’s first word?” his girlfriend and beloved actress Lauren London, asked. After making the adorable mistake of guessing it was the expression “baba,” she reminded him: “Nooo, Hussle! It was ‘dada!’”
The world stopped Sunday night when news surfaced that just three days after the video was published, the father of two died from multiple gunshot wounds after being gunned down outside of his South Central L.A. based clothing store, The Marathon. Unfortunately, video of the crime scene surfaced online, depicting paramedics’ attempts to resuscitate the hip hop legend, ironically, in front of one of the multiple community-centered businesses he created to breathe life into his childhood neighborhood.
His Crenshaw community hasn’t been a stranger to violence, but recently, thanks to “Neighborhood Nipsey” (as locals called him) and his vital investments into the hood, they were becoming familiar with something new: black-owned businesses and burgeoning opportunity.
The mainstream music community was also cozying up to the idea of a new(ish) rapper who — unlike many ‘breaking’ artists of the new generation — had a fervent intent to spread messages of self-actualization to his people: black and brown people living in low-income communities.
In his legacy, Nipsey Hussle (named Ermias Asghedom by his Eritrean father and Black American mother) was a spark — the beginning of a movement toward radical love among and within marginalized communities. In his personal life, Hussle was a flame — a light stretching forward to bring clarity to each step in his personal evolution.
Here are a few lessons we learned from Hussle about how to have evolving self-love that ultimately reaches everyone we touch.
You Can Find Your Own Purpose Through Community
The primary thing we are all learning about Nipsey Hussle in the wake of his tragic passing, is that he loved his community first and foremost. While Nipsey Hussle was no stranger to the streets, the rapper eventually discovered his purpose existed far beyond a life of hustling. Whether he was providing jobs to those in his community, building playgrounds, or teaching young children how to code — he was dutifully doing all three to help make his Crenshaw neighborhood a better place for families — Hussle discovered a new way to relate to his own city through love.
To Be Self-Made, Love Yourself Enough to Maximize Your Money
“Being self-made means never making an excuse as to why you can’t take steps toward whatever your goal is,” Hussle once told Forbes. Hussle began to add weight to his name when he learned the ins-and-outs of business and ultimately used that knowledge to create a better financial life for himself and his family.
By the time the rapper started his own record label, he began focusing on ways to become “vertically integrated” — meaning, having a full-scale suite of products that all feed into one another.
The rapper can be heard speaking about this in his single, Victory Lap, saying “I’m integrated vertically, y’all … blew it. They tell me, “Hussle dumb it down, you might confuse ’em.”
This was a page he took straight from the business book of Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, as both rappers became privy to selling their music in bundles with their other brands and product offerings, in order to make more on their records.
The power move would afford Hussle the right to eventually call himself a true self-made millionaire.
You Can Still Learn to Love Unconditionally
In a now heartbreaking to read, but beautiful post to his partner, Hussle admits to having once been “real skeptical” [sic] about love and confesses how actress Lauren London changed that for him.
The couple’s son was born in 2016 after they had been dating for several years. Despite a brief break-up in 2017, London and Hussle demonstrated a strong bond centered around their blended family (both had children from previous relationships).
In a post from London, it was clear that the two had discovered within one another the ability to love now and forever — even in heaven as Lauren, now cryptically, suggested.
When You Tear Down Others, You Tear Down Yourself
In one of the many prophetic videos and messages Hussle left behind, the artist can be found discussing his past life as a gangbanger and sharing what he learned about the pathology of those who tear down others who look like them.
The video could almost double as an explainer for Jordan Peele’s newest blockbuster, Us, in which characters from the movie exclusively seek out to kill those who look just like them.
Hussle explains that he “started being honest” with himself about the gang lifestyle and “matured and became exposed to other opportunities and embraced them.” This caused him to ultimately walk away from a lifestyle of “hunting” people who look like him to kill them. He was reported to have been working with the Los Angeles Police Department to begin a task force to stop gang violence and black-on-black crime.
It’s Never Too Late to Put Down the Patriarchy
It is no secret that the American hip hop music scene is a cesspool of misogynoir and rampant disrespect towards all women. The term “bitch” is light work to countless hip-hop artists who have been accused of sexual assault, domestic violence, rape, and pedophilia.
So, many new and old Hussle fans may find it remarkable that he chose to appear in a music video for the CW show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in which he ironically gets through two cringe-worthy rap bars inviting a woman to “turn that ass around like you tryin’ to impress…” before realizing the even more cringe-worthy process most women go through to get ready to impress said man.
“God, this is what you go through to get ready,” he asks the proverbial woman disgustedly. “This is horrifying like a scary movie… like some nasty-ass patriarchal bullshit.”
Before exiting the skit, he reflects on his “discovery” of patriarchy with an intent to do a little better. “You know what, I gotta go apologize to some b*tches.”
While it was only a baby step, it was a rare, reflective moment in which a hip hop artist called out and satirized the error of his own misogynistic ways, suggesting that others too have the option to self-regulate.