A Light Shut Off Too Soon : LA Celebrates The Life of Nipsey Hussle
A young woman on the 757 Los Angeles Metro bus headed south from Hollywood watches a music video of late rapper Nipsey Hussle in which his killer is seen next to him. “It really be ya own people sometimes,” she says as she shakes her head from side to side. This is one of the many reactions of the community members in South Central Los Angeles after Hussle was fatally shot in front of his clothing store on Sunday, March 31, 2019.
Born Ermias Joseph Asghedom, the rapper didn't follow the paths of other artists, who rise to fame and move out of their humble beginnings. He stayed faithful to his community and was determined to build it up by acquiring real estate on Slauson Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard. Here, he opened up his clothing store: The Marathon: selling clothes, shirts, sweaters, and hats that advertise the Crenshaw community.
Hussle’s plans for further improving the community included his support for Destination Crenshaw. According to their website, Destination Crenshaw will include community gathering spaces, landscape and street improvement and hundreds of locations for commissioned artwork. It will be a 1.3 mile long outdoor cultural experience that celebrates Black Los Angeles.
Marqueece Harris-Dawson, District Eight Councilmember of the City of Los Angeles, is a public partner of the Destination Crenshaw program. In a statement, Harris-Dawson mentions that Hussle was an icon and West Coast hero for his support in the program. He also adds, “As a father, brother and son, Nipsey was a rock helping to build an empire that will continue through generations. Nipsey will always be remembered for delivering a pure, authentic Los Angeles sound; his numerous philanthropic efforts; his innovative, community-focused business mindset; and his humble heart.”
At the intersection of Slauson and Western Avenues, Elisha Bryant and Shedric Hunter share their support by selling tee-shirts of the late rapper. On the front, a side profile of Hussle with the year of his birth and the year of his death. On the back, a quote said by the rapper himself. Bryant says, “A lot of times people have been rapping, but they haven’t been saying anything and what he was saying was such unity. It was life-changing. I mean, we’ve had people come out here and buy shirts - from babies in strollers to people in their nineties, who actually get it.”
Thousands of members of the community went out to support his family during the funeral procession that was held after his memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on Thursday, April 11, 2019. At the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue where the fatal shooting occurred, community members of the Crenshaw District waited patiently for hours to see his hearse pass through.
To get a clear view, some climbed the traffic lights, others sat on top of their cars and some even stood on rooftops. As the hearse came rolling through, the crowd cheered and chanted in unison, “Nipsey! Nipsey!”
“As an elderly black man and having seen America over a period of approximately 75 years, I think the man was like a light in the dark,” says Hunter. “And when you turned that light on, it not only lit up the whole room. He lit up the whole entire world. That was his mission on Earth. When have you ever seen something like this in your lifetime?”