The African Roots of Nipsey Hussle
The world has been shaken to its core in the wake of the tragic death of rapper, entrepreneur, and community leader Nipsey Hussle on March 31, 2019. Reports state that he was fatally shot six times in front of his retail store, Marathon Clothing located in Los Angeles.
Nipsey is famous for recounting his life experiences through his music. His music told his story of growing up and having to hustle on Slauson & Crenshaw Avenue in South Central LA. It is painstakingly ironic that it happens to be the same location where he met his untimely demise.
Nipsey, whose real name is Ermias Ashgedom, was only 33 years old. In addition to the tremendous impact his music had, he was an advocate for ending cycles of poverty and gang-violence in the African-American community. Hussle’s debut studio album, Victory Lap was most recently nominated for this year’s “Best Rap Album” Grammy Award.
Nipsey Hussle’s death also hits close to home for the African community as Nipsey is originally of Eritrean descent and stayed connected to his African roots. He attributed part of his vision as being impacted by the time he spent in Eritrea as a teen. He first visited Eritrea as an 18 year old and went a second time in 2018.
In an interview with Dallas radio station 97.9 The Beat, Nipsey spoke on the duality of being Eritrean .“As far as I am a black person from America, I am a black person from Africa too.” This sentiment is common for those of the African Diaspora and those who descend from African immigrants. Many experience the double-consciousness that involves not only being black in America but also embracing their African culture, deriving their drive for success from this awareness.
In 2018, Nipsey returned again to Eritrea fourteen years after his first visit to reconnect with his family, enjoy the rich food and culture, and explore business and development opportunities.
Eritrea’s Minister of Information Yemane Meskel led the tributes to Nipsey Hussle after news of his death broke: “Extremely saddened to hear the news of the tragic and untimely death of iconic recording artist/entrepreneur Ermias Asgedom (Nipsey Hussle),” Meskel tweeted. His music, philanthropic efforts, and entrepreneurial contributions will be remembered in the wake of his passing.
Hussle is survived by his two children, and girlfriend of five years, Lauren London.