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Nipsey Hussle Celebrated as a Visionary Activist at Public Memorial in Los Angeles

Signage of Nipsey Hussle is seen on the side of Los Angeles’ Staples Center prior to Hussle’s memorial service there on April 11, 2019.
Signage of Nipsey Hussle is seen on the side of Los Angeles’ Staples Center prior to Hussle’s memorial service there on April 11, 2019.
Photo: Getty

Tens of thousands of people packed Los Angeles’ 21,000-capacity Staples Center Thursday while many others stood outside and gathered throughout the city as fans, friends and family bid farewell to Nipsey Hussle at a public memorial.

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Billed as a “Celebration of Life,” the memorial brought people together from throughout Los Angeles and beyond. Scripture was read in Tigrinya, the language of Eritrea, the nation where Hussle’s father was born and in whose heritage Hussle took great pride.

Tributes came from close friends and family, including Hussle’s mother, Angelique Smith, who, dressed in white and standing onstage with his father, Dawit Asghedom, called their 33-year-old son, born Ermias Asghedom, “a legacy.”

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“He had such beautiful energy,” she said, the Associated Press reports.

Kameron Carter, the 9-year-old son of Hussle’s longtime life partner, Lauren London, and Lil Wayne, shared details of a dream he had about Hussle following his death, saying, according to the Los Angeles Times, “I realized Ermias told me what heaven was like; he told me it was paradise.”

Master P speaking outside Nipsey Hussle’s memorial service at the Staples Center April 11, 2019
Master P speaking outside Nipsey Hussle’s memorial service at the Staples Center April 11, 2019
Photo: Associated Press

Various hip-hop luminaries were in attendance, including Snoop Dogg, Puff Daddy, Meek Mill, Pusha T, Big Sean and 2 Chainz. Tributes were also heard or shared from dignitaries including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who spoke at the service, and President Barack Obama, who sent a message that was read aloud at the memorial.

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The former commander-in-chief said that while he’d never met Hussle, he had learned of him through his daughters, Sasha and Malia. Obama, the Los Angeles Times reports, praised Hussle’s vision, calling his “legacy worthy of celebration”:

While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets, and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope. He saw a community that, even through its flaws, taught him to always keep going.

His choice to invest in that community rather than ignore it — to build a skills training center, and a co-working space in Crenshaw; to lift up the Eritrean-American community; to set an example for young people to follow — is a legacy worthy of celebration.

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Farrakhan called Hussle a “prophetic voice” of the community where he grew up and, later, grew businesses—businesses like the Marathon Clothing store in front of which a gunman took Hussle’s life March 31.

“He lived the life of the hood, but he rose above the pull of gravity,” Farrakhan told those gathered. “Ermias was more than a hip-hop artist: He was a voice; he was a brilliant mind, and the spirit of God was in his life.”

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Attendees at Nipsey Hussle’s memorial service hold up copies of the Nation of Islam’s Final Call newspaper with Hussle on the cover April 11, 2019.
Attendees at Nipsey Hussle’s memorial service hold up copies of the Nation of Islam’s Final Call newspaper with Hussle on the cover April 11, 2019.
Photo: Getty

In a book of remembrances handed out to attendees, the AP reports, there were numerous photos of Hussle with London, his children, and friends like Russell Westbrook and Snoop Dogg. It also had heartfelt messages from people like the Game, LeBron James and Issa Rae.

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“I’ve never cried myself to sleep over any public figure before, but Nipsey’s presence meant so much for our community,” Rae said in her message, the Associated Press reports.

And then there were the fans, some of whom traveled for hours to get to the service.

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A fan at Nipsey Hussle memorial April 11, 2019.
A fan at Nipsey Hussle memorial April 11, 2019.
Photo: Getty

“We had to be here,” said Montana Corbett, 30, who drove for hours from Sacramento, Calif., to Los Angeles to be at the service. “We had to pay our respects. We all cried when we heard. We were devastated.”

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“I used my sick hours today,” said Andrea Wash, who drove down from Oakland, Calif. “I’ve been following Nip for almost 10 years now. I’m here for my brother. I hate that this is the reason I’m here. I just saw him perform in June at the Warfield in San Francisco and he lit it up.”

“This is the Nipsey Hussle show today. This is his show,” rapper Master P said as he surveyed the crowd outside Staples. “If he were here he would be trying to figure out how to help someone. He’s up there smiling right now, looking down on us, and saying, ‘Please keep up the work.’”

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DISCUSSION

hurricanetony
BensonDubois

I’m gonna be the asshole here, but I think it’s truly sad that we are so starstruck and so devoid of decent people to rally behind that a reformed gang banger is the sauce that pulls us together. Don’t get me wrong—I applaud Nipsey for whatever work he was doing, but the fact that most people went “who?’ when he was killed is a testament to the fact that he was not that well known for being either a performer or a community activist. He was not Chuck D, Quenn Latifah, Sistah Souljah, or KRS-One. He wasn’t Tupac.

Why is that I think this? I think it’s because his music certainly didn’t appear to reflect this desire for a better community. Most of what I heard was the same old tired trap raps about money and drugs. Where was his “The Message”, “It’s Like That”, “Don’t Believe the Hype”, “By Any Means Necessary”, etc.? Where was his “Dear Mama”??? Where was his “Alright?” I’m sorry, but this man was no Kendrick Lamar and frankly, not even close.

Yes, we need to have this convo because I’m so tired of people acting like the criminals in our midst deserve one tenth of the respect our people give them just because they decided to stop being criminals. Most of us never chose to be criminals—never considered it and didn’t want any criminality near our homes or families. Yet those among us who have always walked righteously, been down like a bubble goose for our communities AND these retarded gangbangers (especially in making excuses for them to White people) and gotten killed did not have one one hundreth the support or respect. IN essence, we’re telling those 80-85% of kids who actually do listen to their parents and adults and stay out of trouble and finish school and go on to be productive fucking citizens that their lives aren’t as important to us as some guy who finally decided to stop robbing people with his friends and be just like they already are.

Now—this was in LA and there were TV cameras, so all media heaux stepped right up to be recognized for recognizing a guy they never knew and whose songs they never heard and I understand that. But we as a community need to spend the majority of our time and resources supporting those kids who do the right thing without some period of criminal or behavioral latency.

Damn skippy (got my “Get off my lawn!” T-shirt on today) its a harsh message. Just as harsh as my single mother telling me she didn’t pay for lawyers or bail. Just as harsh as me making poor and broke decisions that didn’t make my mother’s life easier.  Just as harsh as the message a kid sends to his poor struggling mother that he doesn’t give a shit about her when he puts her in a position to have to choose between paying the light bill or bailing his ass out of jail again. Our level of focus on the “bad” kids has to give way at some point. It’s a disservice to the self determined kids who do right without being forced and it sends them the message that the only way to get this kind of positive attention from our community is to be a criminal who magnanimously decides to spare the rest of us from their misbehavior. You know—those 80-85% of us who never get caught up in criminal bullshit.

I would love for someone to direct me to those songs or performances by Nipsey that show all the love he gave for his community. That exhibited his support for the hardworking Black folks in LA. Maybe they’re hidden somehwere on an unreleased mixtape or a “Black” album. Please someone prove me wrong so I don’t think we’re spending all this emotional capital on a hypocrite .