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Nipsey Hussle: More Than a Rapper

“Having strong enemies is a blessing.”

These were the chilling words that 33-year-old Grammy-nominated rapper Ermias Asghedom, otherwise known as Nipsey Hussle, tweeted hours before he was shot and killed in front of one of his Los Angeles clothing stores last week.

The news of Nipsey Hussle’s death shook social media as celebrities and fans took to Twitter and Instagram with outpourings of love and grief.

In the Hip-Hop and Rap world, Hussle established himself as a force to be reckoned with. His recent critically-acclaimed album, “Victory Lap,” released in February 2018, received a nomination for Best Rap Album at the 61st Grammy Awards.

His music was not only a reflection of his life, but of the social climate he found himself in, often producing lyrics about gang violence, Black on Black crime, poverty, immigration and even his strong disapproval of the Trump Administration.

Hussle was also a filmmaker. Before his untimely death, he was working on a documentary about a Honduran herbalist named Alfredo Bowman, or Dr. Sebi, who went to trial in the 1980s for practicing medicine without a license in New York. The documentary would reveal that Dr. Sebi was acquitted because he allegedly had the cure for HIV/AIDS. A cure that was then kept from society by the powers that be.

Beyond his passion for music and film, Hussle established himself as a community advocate in South L.A., his hometown. There he was known for his random acts of kindness such as giving out shoes to children and paying for funerals. His most recent venture was building a six-story residential building on top of a commercial plaza where his clothing store Marathon would be, the very plaza where he grew up hustling.

The space will give “opportunities and jobs to all communities and improve the neighborhood,” Hussle said in a recent interview with Forbes. ““The vision is to launch franchises; there’s such a narrative to this parking lot—that’s a part of my story as an artist.”

Last year, Hussle also co-founded a professional co-working space called Vector90 in his native Crenshaw District. This was the first step from Hussle and his business partner Dave Gross toward their larger plan of opening STEM schools in Los Angeles, Atlanta, DC, and neighborhoods all over the country. Their “Too Big to Fail” initiative focused on bringing STEM programs to underserved areas in order to “bridge the gap between inner-city and Silicon Valley,” Hussle said on Big Boy’s ‘The Neighborhood’ radio show.

An advocate, entrepreneur and artistic visionary, Hussle was loved and respected by many. His music, artistry and lasting community impact will serve as a reminder of a man who just wanted to make a difference.

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Tigist Layne

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