Arts

Optimism for the future: Nipsey Hussle’s true legacy

Rapper Nipsey Hussle, shown here performing in April 2018, created music that will be replayed for years, but his legacy of community building may be his biggest contribution. Image By: Image Courtesy of Getty Images

On Sunday night, rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed while leaving his clothing store in Los Angeles. The news was devastating to the music community, which resulted in an outpouring of sympathies to his family — especially his two children and girlfriend, Lauren London.

Born Ermias Joseph Asghedom, Hussle grew up in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles. With no ties and few resources in his community, Hussle worked his way up through the music world as an independent artist releasing mixtapes such as Bullets Ain’t Got No Name Vol. 1, which eventually led to his signing. He valued his integrity and saw the value of mixtapes allowing him to sustain creative control. 

The infamous Crenshaw mixtape was sold in physical copies at $100 each, with Jay-Z buying 100 himself. In 2010 he was featured in the XXL Freshman Class among the likes of J.Cole and Wiz Khalifa. He released his debut studio album Victory Lap last year. It was nominated for Best Rap Album.

Hussle’s music is characterized by a classic West Coast, “gangsta” style mixed with politically-charged lines. He uses stories that address his early life shaped by struggles and a dangerous lifestyle, but that simultaneously look at an optimistic future that Hussle attributes to a variety of his endeavors and investments.

His dynamic style is well summarized by “Blue Laces 2” where he raps “Third generation South Central gangbangers/ That lived long enough to see it changing/ Think it's time we make arrangements, finally wiggle out they mazes."

Perhaps allowing his music career to take a backseat at times, Hussle used all of the resources he gained through music and directly put them back into building his community. His ultimate passion was bettering his neighborhood and encouraging excellence from inner-city kids. He was working on a STEM center where Crenshaw students could study and learn about technology, in hopes of kindling skills, optimism and pride within youth.

Despite only being 33 years old, Hussle leaves behind an impressive, at times complicated, legacy.


Molly Carmichael is a music columnist for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of her work, click here.

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