I remember where I was when Pac died. I sat in front of the television in awe and shock at the very strong reaction I was having to the untimely passing of one of rap’s greats. The feeling returned last night as I was scrolling through my Instagram timeline to read what I hoped was fake news. Nipsey was shot, but still, I thought, shot isn’t killed, so there is hope. I went to my source of news for all things black folk related, The Shade Room and the tears came before I could even really think the emotions through. They killed him. They fucking killed him. They killed this young, positive, prolific, black King. Shot six times, 5 to the body, 1 to the head, broad daylight. His daughter was there. Children were there. They executed him.
I reject the theory that he was killed by someone from his hood. That narrative doesn’t hit in my soul, and it’s not because it’s a far fetched theory but because of the history America has with killing people who have the power to unite and bring calm to the masses. Nipsey was a Crip, as is Snoop and Kendrick, and the former two are alive, well and frequent their hoods. Nipsey was a man who believed in teaching people who come from where he came from how to use their money, brain, and talents to edify their situation in life. He wasn’t giving interviews about gang banging, he was talking about the elevation of poor youth, and finding them pathways to financial prosperity. He was also determined to bring the story of Dr. Sebi to light, and publicly acknowledged he could be a target for pursuing that story. He knew the risks, yet he persisted.
The average news watching person will see a thug, a menace, and a gang banger. They won’t be able to SEE him the way the people who are tuned into him love him and see him. What makes him an expert in climbing to the top? How can this young man from the streets of Los Angeles be so insightful about unemployment and ways to make your money quadruple? How could this person who says nigga in his raps and an admitted former criminal, grace the cover of GQ with the love of his life? Who gave him the audacity to defy the odds and choose to elevate himself and his community? However isn’t this the type of story that blue-blooded Americans love? Had a come up story? Isn’t this the type of narrative you make into a silver screen blockbuster? He still died in the streets, but he did more with his 33 years than most do with 70.
Nipsey Hussle IS the American come up story. He IS the wildest dreams of his ancestors and his predecessors. He is what young black kids dream of being. He was an example of a black boy who had the odds stacked against him, and was swimming against the current, and still making it to shore. He was who Malcolm paved the way for and he would have been proud of him. I appreciate Nipsey because he was imperfect, he wasn’t born into having multiple options for success. He was a child of the street like Malcolm was and he knew that life wasn’t going to lead to his dreams being fulfilled. He was selling his mixtapes for $100, man that’s audacious and that’s him knowing his worth. He knew he wasn’t going to give his craft away for $5. Who would want that? He sold it for $100 and people bought it, establishing his worth from the beginning.
Is Nipsey any less important than Barack Obama? Is he any less important than anybody who was born into money? Are his message and his path any less impactful because he’s from the hood? To me, his message is THAT much more important. HE is that much more important because HE knew what it took to rise up from where he was in this life. Nipsey is a part of the fabric of the American narrative. His chapter is important because it’s a narrative which thousands of youth can relate to. He was on the rise after being down for so long. He may be physically gone but like Tupac, Sam Cooke, Malcolm, Dr. Sebi, Fred Hampton, Huey P. Newton and all of the revolutionaries who have come before him, his spirit will live on for an eternity. Nipsey Hussle was a beautiful man with a beautiful message and his death is a profound loss for the universe.
May he Rest In Peace.