When people think of South Central and South Los Angeles, they tend to associate it with crime, gangs and poverty; but Nipsey Hussle made the residents of South Central and South Los Angeles proud to call it home. He fought to show people that there was more to South Central than just the negative perceptions surrounding it. Nipsey truly believed in the community and cultural wealth of Black neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
Nipsey changed the way we look at rappers for many reasons, but most notably he challenged South Central and the rest of the world to think outside of the box. He taught the world to think about personal ownership of music, investing wisely, and building a stronger community.
While most rappers choose to pursue the best record label, Nipsey sought to promote himself independently and take a more individualistic route. He was very vocal when it came to ownership, not only in terms of his own music but also in others’ – he encouraged them to create their own brands and step away from the middle man. He motivated his community and his fans to think with a business mindset similar to his own. Ownership to Nipsey crossed beyond the boundaries of music and into real estate, mom and pop shops, and more.
In one of Nipsey’s early rap interviews, he mentions not pursuing fancy clothing, cars, jewelry, or other material things. He was planning on accumulating wealth that could in the long run become an investment. Investing and saving was a top priority that Nipsey emphasized both for himself and for his listeners.
Although Nipsey was involved in gang activity as a youth and young adult, he spoke openly about why he and his community developed the lifestyle and how he fought for change. One of his first businesses – a clothing shop called The Marathon Clothing – hires formerly incarcerated people and South Central community members, giving them another chance at life. Nipsey was so involved with improving Los Angeles and his community that he met with city council representatives and attended meetings to help stop the spread of gang violence. He understood that communities within South Central needed reliable resources, better schools, and community leadership.
Some people have questioned Nipsey’s early rap career and even his most recent rap music, but the truth about Nipsey’s rap is that it challenged everyone to think about their own growth and the growth of Black people and other people of color in present-day society.
Nipsey rapped about gang culture because it was a part of his life, not because he wanted to glorify gang violence. He often rapped with people affiliated with rival gangs opposite of his and always talked about peace and the bigger mission to someday end gang violence. Nipsey looked at his narrative as a truth that many times was ignored and viewed as inner-city youth. Giving a voice to the voiceless was a theme within his lyrics. He wanted everyone to understand the structural inequalities of minority communities, in specific Black and Latino people who historically have been neighbors and live amongst one another. Leaving nothing unsaid, the great Nipsey even spoke of reparations, over-policing of Black and minority communities, the criminal justice system, community cultural wealth, investing, the music industry, and education, to name some. The wide range of topics he spoke and rapped about is one aspect of what made him so legendary.
Unfortunately, the great Nipsey Hussle passed away in front of the store he and his brother worked so hard to build. The Marathon Clothing was the location for Nipsey’s memorial, where thousands of people from Los Angeles and all over the world went to visit. He left behind a legacy that will stand the test of time and he will be remembered by more than just hip-hop fans and people within his own community, but by countless others as well. Many have been inspired by his dedication to his craft and his passion to improve his community and give back to those in need.
Nipsey Hussle’s brother and family accept Nipsey’s first Grammy Award after his passing.
Nipsey will always be remembered as one of the greatest and fearless rappers of our time, going down in history as a rap legend, entrepreneur, poet, activist and so much more. Los Angeles will truly never be the same without this man.
“The Marathon Continues” – Quote by Nipsey Hussle