In March 2019, the music world lost one of its brightest lights: rapper Nipsey Hussle.
As Los Angeles natives who grew up in the same area as Nipsey — born Ermias Joseph Asghedom — his tragic passing has hit the ladies of the House of 334 pretty hard. Nipsey was not only one of the most talented rappers to break out of South Central Los Angeles in the past decade, but he was also a loving partner, father, businessman, and philanthropist whose main goal was to leave a legacy that positively impacted his community for generations to come.
While some had never heard about Nipsey before he was tragically killed on March 31, the outpouring of love and condolences from celebrities, politicians, and community members told the world he was special.
Writer and actor (and L.A. native), Issa Rae said, “Watching Nipsey inspired me to invest and own in our communities.” And award-winning director Ava DuVernay remembered him as “bright, genuine, [and] forward thinking.”
California Congresswoman Karen Bass took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to enter his contributions to South Central into the Congressional Record.
As we continue to play Nipsey’s music and reflect on his legacy of service, we’ve also taken a little time to digest the lessons we learned from him about business and entrepreneurship. Here are 5 of our faves.
Those who knew Nipsey said he was not afraid to speak his mind. That fearlessness also extended to his business ventures, which were big. A month before he was killed, he purchased the shopping center that houses his Marathon Clothing store with plans to transform the small plaza into a six-story mixed-used property.
Even if he was afraid, Nipsey said getting rid of doubt was “the most important thing” people can do. As he explained, “If you got doubt in what you’re doing, it’s not gonna work.”
Back in 2013, Nipsey dropped his Crenshaw mixtape. Though he gave it away for free online, he also launched the “Proud2Pay” campaign, which gave fans the opportunity to cop a physical copy of the album for $100 a piece.
Back then, most people pirated music from online sites, but Nipsey made buying a $100 album something special. Jay-Z reportedly bought 100 copies, and the buzz around the hard-to-get mixtape not only made the L.A. rapper a legend, but it even led Nipsey to meet the love of his life, Lauren London.
Nipsey did not hustle his way from the hood to the Grammys by accident. He always had big plans. As he said in one interview, “If you got a plan, it’s not just like a pipe-dream, you have a step-by-step list of things to do to get to your goal. If you don’t have that, it’s very hard to really have faith in what you’re doing ’cause soon as something pop up, it’s gonna look like the end-all.”
The 33-year-old also said, “Without a game plan and without a strong sense of faith in what you’re doing, it’s gonna be real hard to accomplish anything.”
He was right.
Nipsey Hussle’s marathon was about way more than just himself. Sure, often talked of increasing his own personal wealth, but he also wanted to invest in the community that raised him. In an interview with Fox 11 news in L.A. last November, he explained why he opened businesses in South Central and stayed closed to the neighborhood.
“My career started right here,” he explained. “This community put me on.”
He also gave back to local schools and invested in a co-working space and STEM center to help the people of his community, who are often overlooked.
For Nipsey, helping others was just part of his life’s mission and marathon.
“I call it ‘dropping the rope,” he explained back in 2018. “You’ve got to drop a rope. Everybody got to climb up, but you gotta drop the rope.”
In 2019, Nipsey Hussle was nominated for his first Grammy. But that honor came after more than a decade of work and 13 mixtapes. While many might have given up long ago, Nipsey had bigger and broader goals that would push his legacy long into the future.
As he explained, “I’m about seeing long-term, seeing a vision, understanding nothing really worthwhile happens overnight, and just sticking to your script long enough to make something real happen.”
Nipsey may be gone, but the lessons he shared and the people he inspired remain. The marathon definitely continues.