LOS ANGELES- A week has come and gone since Nipsey Hussle lost his life. And yet the love continues to flow in. Every day, thousands of people wait in long lines armed with flowers, candles, and memorabilia.
They have come armed with their cell phones, taking selfies and recording the moment of being so close to the global icon who touched hearts with his works of charity and philanthropic deeds.
“First of all, we are just honored that God brought this wonderful human being our way because brother Nipsey Hussle did more in 33 years than most of us have done in a lifetime to serve his community,” said Min. Tony Muhammad, Resident Minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 27 in Los Angeles, western regional representative for the Nation of Islam.
“We lost a prince,” continues Min. Tony Muhammad. “We lost a king, a general. Brother Nipsey [Hussle] didn’t just talk about it, this man took his time, he took his fame and his money, and he put it back into a community. One of the conversations I had him, he said, ‘Min. Tony, I want to fix up what I helped tore up.’ And to see him invest in the community and do economic development to give jobs to his homies, you can’t beat that. That’s the best service you can give to your community.”
South Los Angeles didn’t just have one of its brightest flowers abruptly plucked from its garden, it lost a true foot soldier. That’s because Hussle didn’t talk the game of giving back to his community; he did it. Hussle had the money and fame to walk away from the community he grew up in. He didn’t do that.
Instead, Hussle stayed home and re-invested in his old stomping ground. He put himself in a position to give employment opportunities to those who might not otherwise be given that chance. People say that children are the future. Hussle saw that and that’s why he created a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) program called “Too Big to Fail.”
This is why people are mourning the loss of Hussle so hard. He was a lot more than just being a Grammy-nominated rapper. The shooting death of Hussle has left a lot of people in the South Los Angeles community as well all over the world devastated. There is a lot of sadness. There’s disbelief. There’s anger.
But there’s hope as well. Social justice activists Linda Jay said outside of the normal morning grieving process that Hussle’s family, friends, and well-wishers are enduring now, something positive will take hold for the community.
“I’m just a believer that out of bad stuff, good stuff always surface,” Jay said. “I just think that people are going to be aware of this little shopping center that he bought and now they’re going to be coming out and they’re going to be…they are going to know that this is here, and they’re going to patronize black businesses.”
City officials have since called for calm in the wake of the shooting incident that took place March 31 in the parking lot right in front of the store and other businesses that Hussle owned and operated on the corners of Slauson Ave. and Crenshaw Blvd.
Outside of the international headlines of the rapper and philanthropist’s passing, is the fact that there has been an increase in homicides and violence in South Los Angeles recently. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti highlighted this fact in a press conference with law enforcement officials a day after Hussle was shot. During the week that Hussle died, 11 homicides took place in South Los Angeles.
Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore are hoping those numbers are more of an abbreviation than a sign of what’s to come. Retaliation to Hussle’s death would only worsen matters, Garcetti said.
“The absolute worst way to pay back Nipsey’s loss, somebody we lost at the hands of violence, is with more violence,” Garcetti said. “We know that there is much more love than hate, more love than violence out there, and we intend to give space for people to grieve, space for people to mourn, space for people to come together.”
Banding together is what the South Los Angeles community has done in the wake of this tragedy. The outpouring of love towards Hussle pretty much runs the gamut of feelings from fans and non-fans alike. It’s not just young people that have been impacted. Some old hats feel the community sting of Hussle’s death as well.
“It’s an unfortunate situation. He means so much to this area right here, just African American people in general,” said Andre Moore on the day Hussle lost his life. “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 got to stop at some point in time.”
To many people, 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 this neighborhood well.
Despite the usual high rate of crime and violence in the community, Hussle stood above all of that noise with his community-building efforts 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 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. The rapper was never above reproach, he said. The violent way in which Hussle died surpised 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 was a real one. He was a real guy. He was a positive and role model for everybody in the community. He was so positive and trying to give back. It’s tragic that somebody would come and take his life.”
Jaisen, who requested that his last name not be used, said like everyone else, he was flabbergasted at the news of the shooting. His admiration for Hussle was music lines, but rather through 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 a change. He’s gone too soon. He was making a difference.”
Community activist Najee Ali held a press conference to talk about why the shooting death of Hussle is absolutely crushing to so many people.
“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.”