Nipsey Hussle, inspiration beyond tragedy

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Editor’s Note: The Celebration of Life for the late rapper, entrepreneur and community activist Nipsey Hussle takes place April 11 at 12 pm CST. BET will air it live and also live-stream the service on BET News(

The murder of the hip hop icon cum community activist Nipsey Hussle proves that the age-old adage about crabs in a bucket sadly still holds true. If you’re too young to know how it goes, ask your mama.

She’ll tell you with a straight face, that when stuck in a pail and crabs see one of their own attempting to crawl out, instead of getting in formation to march out together, they drag that crab back down with them.

Shot to death in broad daylight at only 33, Hussle née Ermias Davidson Asghedo had done the unthinkable. He’d started out in life scrambling in the streets, graduated to thugdom in one of the worst gangs on records and then thrived as a legitimate citizen and businessman.

He came up from nothing — less than, really — out of South Los Angeles’ Crenshaw District, banging with the Rollin’ 60s Crips Neighborhood posse. He got out of that life, a huge accomplishment in itself, carved out a career on the mic and, unlike many who get wealthy that way, eschewed a lifestyle of the rich and famous. The tragic irony is, if he had, he’d be walking around breathing today, enjoying the rewards of having gone straight.

Indeed, he transcended stereotypes to become a role model you would not believe if you saw it in the movies. Recording royalties and concert fees weren’t the half of it. Nor was his investment retail ventures, including Marathon Clothing and Vector90, right there in his old stomping grounds on West Slauson Avenue instead of Rodeo Drive.

This was a man who looked over his shoulder at what he’d left behind and committed himself to keep others from subsisting in the dead-end existence he escaped.

Before he was gunned down last Sunday, shot six times, in the parking lot of his establishment, Hussle had plans to sit down with L.A. Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff and LAPD Chief Michel Moore to discuss what could be done about the very issue of gang violence. How to prevent it.

If you look at his lyrics to the track, “Dedication,” his perspective held an outlook borne of the piercing insight that comes from first-hand experience:

Photo courtesy Getty Nipsey Hussle with daughter Emani at this year’s Grammy’s

“Young Black n*#ga trapped and he can’t change it/Know he a genius, he just can’t claim it/’Cause they left him no platforms to explain it/He frustrated so he get faded/But deep down inside he know you can’t fade him/How long should I stay dedicated?” 

You can believe this wasn’t some publicity stunt — he was serious about working to cure a plague that curses urban Black America, savaging the lives of men, women and children, whole communities. He was in it for the long haul and would be dedicated until his dying day, which came, it goes without saying, way too soon.

As of press time, police have identified 29-year-old Eric Holder as a suspect in Hussle’s killing. The two reportedly knew each other and had a dispute of some sort. One thing for sure, it wasn’t some crazed White supremacist hell-bent on stopping Black progress. No, it was that faithful enemy in our own backyard — one of us. Showing, yet again, that we don’t need the White man to keep us down, we can do a fine job ourselves.

Let it sink in that he was no sperm donor-at-large or some free roaming baby-daddy. Instead, he settled down in domesticity with actress Lauren London without any of the scandal generally attendant to celebrity hookups. They were raising her son Cameron with his daughter Emani Asghedom (there’s a photograph of him with her on the red carpet at this year’s Grammys that will break your heart) and their son Kross Asghedom.

This was someone whose efforts, indeed, his example, promised a future that stood to change lives around him. And he is gone.

One Comment on “Nipsey Hussle, inspiration beyond tragedy”

  1. One has to look at the environment of the crabs in the bucket as a factor. Closed structure and people in physically and psychologically confinement breeds anger. People start to turn on one another. When one strategize a way out and escape, some are upset because no matter what they did to get out, there is no escape. The one who broke free in some cases feel obliged to assist the others to freedom. This could be taken as an insult to some due to their own insecurities. Nipsey did all he could and it’s a shame he died trying to help others. Poverty and violence in my opinion causes PTSD. The whole design causes trauma that has yet to be addressed.

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