“Spoke some things into the universe and they appeared/I say it’s worth it, I won’t say it’s fair/Find your purpose or you wastin air.” – Nipsey Hussle
Those lyrics are from Nipsey Hussle’s breakthrough Grammy-nominated album, Victory Lap. Nipsey was gunned down March 31st outside the store he opened, in the neighborhood he was trying to transform, in the city he loved. It was a life cut short due to violence.
I would consider myself a casual fan of Nipsey Hussle. I was familiar with his work and would from time to time play his music. What I did not know was that he was more than a rapper. Nipsey Hussle was building something special. He was trying to change the narrative that surrounds rappers, specifically those with gang affiliations.
Nipsey Hussle was on the brink of something legendary. He was trying to buy back the block. He was trying to build a legacy that would live beyond him. He wanted to inspire change and give people an outlet. Nipsey was on the brink of reaching the point of his album. Nipsey Hussle was approaching his true Victory Lap. What his death should inspire us to do is continue the marathon for him.
Nipsey Hussle was an independent artist. He chose this route instead of signing a major label deal to control and profit entirely off his work. He was ahead of his time in using his social media influence to sell and profit off his mixtapes. In 2013, he sold his Crenshaw mixtape for $100. He made $100,000 in one day. What Nipsey was teaching us is that you have to believe in yourself if you want others to do the same. He set out to be an example to people undervaluing their influence.
His death like many others saddens me. He leaves behind family and children and a neighborhood that was counting on him. I am saddened that it wasn’t until his death that many people including myself did not know his story. He should have been celebrated more. He was accomplishing so much.
He used his skills as a rapper to tell his story of gangbanging, sell records and create wealth. He then took that fortune and was put it back into his community. He used his influence to teach kids in his neighborhood that violence is not the answer. He invested in local schools and inspired kids to see the hope within their neighborhood. He wanted to better his community, and he did. Even though he passed, he is still inspiring others to continue in the marathon to ensure that what he started lasts forever.
Nipsey was trying to change the world, starting with changing his neighborhood and his city. Yes, he was a member of the Rollin’ 60s Crips, but Nipsey was showing us that gangs are not simply instruments of violence, but that they can be instruments of hope and give a sense of pride in your community.
As we mourn the death of Nipsey Hussle and celebrate his accomplishments, I believe the best way we can honor him is to continue his marathon. It was about giving back and inspiring those around you to do the same. For my part, I hope to use my platform as an educator and specifically a principal to continue the work I am doing with our school and our neighborhood. I will remember what I have helped create with Dubarry Determined. Nipsey Hussle is an inspiration. He is a movement.
You showed us that we could not let the system hold us back. Keep pushing and watch you come through on the other side.
“This aint entertainment, it’s for ni**gas on the slave ship/These songs just the spirituals I swam against them waves with/Ended up on shore to their amazement.” -Nipsey Hussle, Dedication
Rest in Peace Nipsey Hussle. You may be dead and gone from this earth, but your influence and mindset will live on forever. It will not just live on in the community of Crenshaw where you lived and loved, but in the fabric of the Culture that will continue your marathon.