A Shining Light in the City of Angels

The impact Nipsey Hussle left in the wake of his murder

Nipsey Hussle is dead.

That’s something I’ve been trying to wrap my head around for about a week but it still just doesn’t make sense to me. Nipsey Hussle, the man who always showed love to his community, who stopped at nothing to empower his people, was gunned down in front of his own storefront in that very same community that he gave everything to.

If you’re from LA, then you know how massive this loss is, because to many of us Nipsey is LA. He embodied that hustler mentality and listening to his music made you feel that no matter what position you’re at in life, you can always strive to achieve more while never forgetting your roots. He wasn’t just a legend, he was our legend.

For me personally, I wouldn’t have gotten through JUCO if it wasn’t for him. For those that have seen my SACDAWGS docu-series, you didn’t see the hours that went into editing videos, the nights that I wouldn’t sleep because I had to get the next video up on time. Every single one of those nights, Nipsey was right there blaring through my speakers, telling me to stay dedicated and every week after I finished each video I would sit back, put on Ocean Views, and reflect on the journey that I’ve been through these past few years.

Another aspect of Nipsey that I always admired was his dedication to empowering his community and fighting gentrification, which inspired me to strive to accomplish the same thing in my neighborhood of Highland Park. He owned several businesses around Crenshaw and Slauson, gave homeless people jobs, and was in the process of redeveloping his plaza into low-income housing. He also bought shoes for local elementary kids and funded upgrades to school playgrounds. Nipsey did so much for his own community, only to be shot dead in it.

The night of Nipsey’s murder, a close friend and I were having a heart-to-heart and I brought up how weird I felt because I had felt like I lost a family member, to which he said that we feel connected to artists like Nipsey because we saw such a personal side of him that we felt like we actually did know him personally. We saw ourselves in Nipsey, we heard the hunger in his voice because it was the same type of hunger that we felt. He taught us that all it takes is applying yourself to be able to achieve the unthinkable.

As hard as Nipsey’s killing hit a lot of us, we can’t just sit around and mourn because that’s not fair to his legacy and memory. Keep grinding, keep striving for greatness, and ensure that the marathon continues.

– Andres Soto

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A blue hat with a, “Fuck Donald Trump” on it was crossed out with a R.I.P Nipsey Hussle written in black marker. Photo credit: Travis Jepeway

Your music was always scattered throughout my playlist. Even if it wasn’t playing all the time, it was something that I would go back to because the message was real. I saw news of you all the time and how you were trying to make changes in the world, trying to motivate the masses. I respected the hustle you had, I respected your passion.

I remember back in 2010, hearing your music for the first time and instantly feeling it. I remember listening to The Marathon, really listening to it, and taking in the lyrics. They gave me advice when I was too stubborn to ask for any, and they gave me hope when I had none. I could go back to them at any time to help get me through the low times.

I often say that half of me died in 2012, and the other half in 2013. When I say that, I mean that the life inside of me died, and I needed motivation. So when Crenshaw dropped with tracks like “Don’t take days off” and “Face the world,” I was in a mental state to really take in the lyrics and the message behind them. I was trying to get away from a bad part of my life and get to a better one, so I was listening to your experience. I was taking notes and wishing for better days.

You showed me that there was reason to have hope in the world, a reason to believe people could be good to one another. I never understood the celebrities who made it big and turned their back on their own neighborhood and people. You never did that, you stayed on Slauson and Crenshaw and tried to show the people the way. You stayed humble. Seeing you do that was such a motivation to me, it’s my idea of what the American dream should be. To not only find success in your own life, but to help create it in others lives as well.

You carried yourself in a way that made it obvious to me that you knew it was bigger than you, it was bigger than music, it was about mankind. You wanted to make a difference in this world and create an everlasting change, and your death is proof that you did just that.

You wanted the world to hustle, because you saw what good could come from it. You remained humble and stayed true to who you were until the end. You were a real one and this loss hurts. It hurts to know that a real difference maker won’t be around anymore.

I have to keep in mind that the marathon continues and we must look for good in bad at all times. The outpour of people who came together to mourn your death is what I see as a light in a dark time. I saw people of all backgrounds coming together and showing each other respect. This is something that I think would make you proud to see, knowing that your words and your life were able to bring people together. You meant a lot to a lot of people, and you’re going to be missed.

Rest In Paradise.

– Travis Jepeway

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A t-shirt of Nipsey Hussle’s face on the back of it hangs surrounded with flowers and candles. Photo credit: Abraham Navarro.

Rolling down Crenshaw Boulevard, an air of frustration began to squeeze me by the shoulders. I began to feel a portion of the inexplicable feelings i’m sure locals had been feeling since sunday, when news broke that Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle had been shot in broad daylight in front of his own store.

I had read his name for the first time that day, and immediately saw it blow up on all of my social media. Today I saw his name written all over Crenshaw. As I walked towards his memorial, I saw his name tagged all over: on walls, highway dividers. I saw his likeness painted on walls thirty feet tall. Blue roses crumbled in the wind among the thousands of candles strewn out in the parking lot where he fell crumpled on the pavement, almost like they were put there to cover the ground where his blood was spilled.

It was clear to me that he was a genuine person just by the way I saw the Los Angeles community reacted to the news that he had passed away. When I took a closer look at the man and what he did for his community, it was clear that he was a real G. I read he worked with Elementary schools to introduce STEM programs to the community. I heard he was supposed to meet with LAPD to discuss a way to stop gang violence in the area. I read that he was even helping a friend who had just got out of prison get some new clothes when he was shot.

There wasn’t many smiles at his memorial. Everyone there felt the same grief grip them by the heart. I saw a man who came to LA from Chicago to see the memorial. He said it was unreal to him until he was standing outside of the parking lot, staring into the endless field of burning blue candles with tears in his eyes. He didn’t want to talk.

Hundreds of cars drove past that day slowing down to look or take pictures, driving over the flaked petals of blue roses. People walked down the sidewalk over trails from streams of liquor poured out in his honor.

From where i’m standing, it all ends there if we don’t live by his example and give back to our communities like he did. We each have a choice of what we do with our lives and with our achievements. Nipsey made his, and we need to make ours.

– Abraham Navarro

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Bear Clarke from Crenshaw went to show his respect to Nipsey Hussle. Photo credit: Destiny Anderson

When I first heard you got shot, Big Boy told me. Sitting in the car laughing without a care in the world, everything stopped. Laughs died. Tears fell. Mouths fell open. Nobody believed it. You were my generation’s Tupac. You were the man trying to change the hood. You can’t be gone. My first thought was that you were just doing some stupid publicity stunt. I was wrong. Then Big Boy started playing “Racks in the Middle” and I started crying.

You cranked out a whole verse talking about one of your homies that died 30 years after gangbanging. Saying you wish he was still here because you finally made it, but you’re gone. You died right at the finish line and left us all behind. All we have is your messages in your music.

I guess that’s the next step, huh Nip? Finished what you started and reach new heights.” With a heavy heart you brought us all together. If that was your last move, you still did it with passion. You lived the struggle and now it’s time for us as a community to get uncomfortable. If I learned one thing from you it was that comfortable isn’t the place to be but the place to disturb.

It angers me when people say they don’t know who you are. But maybe that was your plan all along. You died and everybody knows your name now. Trying to create a movement and get kids off the streets was the first step to your master plan, and your death was the chain reaction. I can’t say your name without it feeling like my throat is closing in on me. This is the effect you have on people living the struggle religiously.

We live in our stereotypes, but they aren’t our name you were the true hustle, born to be great. Yourverse in “Be Here for a While” was exactly what you did saying, “about taking risks, you gotta know the price”. Even though you were rich you bought death and its rights. You will live on in and out of the hood.

It hurts to lose another legend, but I understand why. To be great in everything you do has a toll on each side. You paid the price trying to change the world. Your mission won’t die because you have a nation running your marathon and you will be heard.

I love you Nipsey Hussle, you’re not just another gang related case. Outside of you and your movement everyone knows that you’re here for the long run. Nipsey stay forever strong.

– Destany Anderson

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A blue bandana is tied to a gate. Photo credit: Jordan Hom.