Nipsey Hussle Lived to lift Up His South L.A. Community
By Dennis J. Freeman
LOS ANGELES-Rapper Nipsey Hussle meant a lot of things to a lot of people. He was a Grammy-nominated musician. He was a father. He was a husband. His philanthropy work and business acumen within the South Los Angeles community he lived and invested in, has made him a pillar of positivity in his neighborhood and around the globe.
He wanted his community to do better and be better. So, to help push that agenda, Hussle went out and bought a chain of businesses and put his money behind his microphone and started a STEM center.
And now, Hussle and all his wonderful aspirations to lift up the community he lived and grew up in, is gone. Without warning, Hussle was mortally wounded after being shot multiple times Sunday afternoon in front of The Marathon Clothing store that he owned on the corner of Slauson Ave. and Crenshaw Blvd. in South Los Angeles.
He was 33. A community shocked and saddened by the news, has been left to deal with the fallout. Activist Najee Ali held a press conference on Monday, along with other community leaders, to talk about what Hussle meant to people in that neighborhood.
“Nipsey (Hussle) was our hero,” Ali said. “He was a champion for the underserved. He was a role model for our youth. Nipsey Hussle was someone who walked the streets of Crenshaw.”
Besides the community activists voicing their displeasure over the killing of Hussle, the shooting incident left a lot of people in the South Los Angeles community devastated.
“Nipsey Hussle was a motivator. He was a philanthropist. He supported his community. He was a great man. He was a leader. He was very respectable. It’s a great loss for our generation,” said Jasmyne Harmon.
When word spread that the South Los Angeles native was murdered in broad daylight on Sunday in front of his chain of businesses, fans from all over the city came out to pay tribute to the deceased entertainer.
“It’s an unfortunate situation. He means so much to this area right here, just African American people in general,” said Andre Moore. “His business mind, where he comes from, how he came up. He was an inspiration to a lot of people, and of course, he had a family. It’s a tragic situation. It’s a loss all the way around the board. It’s a loss to the community, his family, the music world. It’s a tragic and unfortunate incident. It’s gotta stop at some point in time.”
By Sunday evening, a throng of several hundred people made their way to the area. Some came out of curiosity, even bringing their children to the site. But for most of the people wrangling their way past police barricades, yellow tape and navigating through the blockage in traffic, Hussle was a man of the people.
To many, Hussle walked the walked when it came to community philanthropy, re-investing back into the local neighborhood, and trying to create an awareness of local pride. Evelyn (Lynn) Esceves was born and grew up in South Los Angeles. She knows the neighborhood well.
Despite the usual high rate of crime and violence in the community, Hussle stood above all of that with his charitable works and entrepreneurship.
“He started buying property over here, so he was giving jobs to people in the community,” Esceves said. “Nipsey was all about being positive. He was giving back to the community. They didn’t like that and that’s why they had to shoot him down.”
Esceves would not elaborate on her theory why Nipsey Hussle was shot down, but her husband, Jaycee Esceves, said that Hussle was about as cool a person he had ever met. Jaycee Esceves said he had a couple of chance encounters with Hussle, and the rapper was never hard to approach.
The violent death of Hussle stunned him.
“There’s a lot of hate still in this world,” Jaycee Esceves said. “It’s crazy. People trying to make it out of the ‘hood and do something positive and try to better your life…it’s sad. He (Nipsey Hussle) was a real one. He was a real guy. He was a positive and role model to everybody in the community. He was so positive and trying to give back. It’s tragic that somebody would come and take his life.”
With the evening winding down, the crowd at the Slauson and Crenshaw intersection grew bigger and more boisterous. The young as well as the middle-aged came out to honor Hussle. There were a lot of hugs, tears, and even dancing as the music of Hussle blared loudly from a truck speaker.
There also seemed to be a lot of disbelief and anger as well with fans and followers of the rapper removing bushes at the local gas station to put up a memorial of candles and flowers. It also gave them an opportunity to peek inside the area where Hussle lost his life as police were trying to find out what happened.
Jaisen, who requested that his last name not be used for this story, said like everyone else, he was flabbergasted at the news of shooting. His admiration for Hussle was not his music-making skills, but rather his reputable business dealings.
“I respect him as a businessman,” Jaisen said. “He gave so many people jobs. There’s a lot of people eating because of him. He was fixing up his community. He was born and raised here, and he was trying to do that. He even did something with the school over here and fixed up their basketball courts. He was making sure everybody around here did right. He was trying to make change. He’s gone too soon. He was making a difference.”