Courtesy of creative commons

Five in the torso, one in the head. The Grammy-nominated rapper, entrepreneur and activist for his community of South-Central L.A., Nipsey Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was murdered on Sunday, March 31, in his hometown, Los Angeles, California. Hundreds of fans and residents from Crenshaw, Nipsey’s neighborhood, held a vigil in front of his clothing store, The Marathon Clothing, where he was fatally shot. Clinging to his lyrics and past interviews, residents reflected on Nipsey’s good deeds to his community.

Although Nipsey had spoken publicly about his long association with L.A. gang, Rollin’ 60s, he seemed to had distanced himself from it through community activism. He had initiated a plan to create a STEM center called “Too Big To Fail” for L.A. youth in order to bridge Silicon Valley and inner-city L.A. He was involved in various art projects such as Destination Crenshaw, an open-air museum that highlights and rejuvenates Black Los Angeles. His impact to his community cannot be exaggerated; he was murdered a day before he was scheduled to meet with the LAPD chief Michel Moore and Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff to discuss ways he could help end gang violence.

Crazy as he was prolific, he made moves that were considered insane at the time. Back in 2013, he charged $100 a piece for his Crenshaw mixtape and sold 1,100 copies with Jay-Z being responsible for 100 of them. The next year, he put out 100 physical copies of Mailbox Money for $1,000 each through his own record label, All Money In. He sold 60 of them. Setting the bar way up, “Neighborhood Nip”—one of Nipsey’s nicknames—was one of the most admired figures in the music industry and was genuinely committed to creating a ladder for those who had a similar upbringing as he did. So what made him a target?

L.A. Times reported that the killing was “likely gang-related”; Twitter claimed that it had something to do with Dr. Sebi, an herbalist and self-proclaimed healer. One thing that I can confidently agree on is that this was done out of pure hatred—bruised ego, jealousy or personal affair. Footage of Eric Holder, a primary suspect in Nipsey’s fatal shooting who had a relationship with the rapper, showed that he shook Nipsey’s hand minutes before he returned with a gun. As disturbing as it is disgusting, this whole situation portrays how violence is still preferable to settle a dispute that can most likely be solved without it.

What Nipsey did to Holder is still up in the air, but for Holder to act all “buddy-buddy” with Nipsey moments before he murdered him portrays that we still lack solicitude and respect towards one another. We know that we should do better, and yet, we choose to end a man’s life whose work and dedication were entirely funded into his community. We can talk about all kinds of violence all day long, but if we don’t start with the man in the mirror, then it’s just talk. What we do today matters tomorrow, and if we can’t start with ourselves, we can’t improve as a unit.

Alas, the culture took a major loss as we said our adieu to a major icon in the hip-hop community. Nevertheless, the seeds of Nipsey’s labor will grow because of the inspiration he once sparked. If you are interested in learning more about Nipsey’s “Too Big to Fail,” visit https://www.toobigtofail.org/

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