The death of rapper Nipsey Hussle is this generation’s Tupac moment. Born Ermias Asghedom, he was an American rapper and songwriter from Los Angeles, California. At only 33-years-old, the business owner was gunned down and murdered in his own neighborhood; near a clothing store he owned. Hussle’s philanthropic work went well beyond the usual celebrity “giving back” spirit. The rapper’s activism, leadership, and dedication to the community was an inspiration for Californians and beyond.
Although the 33-year-old artist did not have the legendary musical catalog of Tupac Shakur, his death, as with Shakur’s, marks a sad milestone in the music industry. There are undeniable parallels between the two artists. Both utilized their fame as platforms to fight injustice. Rising from hard street lives to become stars in the entertainment industry, both became victims of the type of gun violence from which they rapped about.
A Tupac fan himself, Hussle compared himself to the late artist on his album. His death is an abrupt and tragic end to a legacy that was just getting started. Having only released his debut album in February 2018, he had already cemented his place in “the game” with 14 years of critically-acclaimed mixtapes. With more music projects under his belt, Tupac, who was killed in 1996 by gun violence, was only 25-years-old. Comparing oneself to Tupac is a bold claim for anyone to make, but Hussle was able to rationalize it. In his song titled “Dedication” the activist raps:
2Pac of my generation, blue pill in the fu*kin’ Matrix
Red rose in the gray pavement, young black n***a trapped and he can’t change it
Know he a genius, he just can’t claim it.
Unlike some celebrities who are more self-centered, Hussle saw the value of entrepreneurship and legacy wealth-building as a way of empowering the black community. Beyond his artistry, the “Victory Lap” songwriter set the standard for giving back to the community that “raised” him. In the end, his main focus was leaving a positive legacy. In an interview with Black Enterprise, Hussle said:
Ten years from now, I would like to have laid a blueprint down that other people can follow who came from the same situation.
Due to hip-hop’s high regard for Tupac, Hussle was quick to acknowledge that he is not Tupac, but his intention was to be the Tupac of his generation. The outcry of fans at the hearing of his death mirrored those when the “All Eyez On Me” rapper was murdered. One fan tweeted:
To see how many people are affected by the passing of Nipsey, it’s most definitely safe to agree that he was right when he said he was the Tupac of this generation. Nipsey, you WILL spark one of the minds that changes the world. Your story & legacy will live on forever.
Another fan, who was too young to remember when Tupac died, tweeted:
I honestly feel like Nipsey death and the effect he had on the black community must’ve been what our parents felt like when Tupac died. It wasn’t just about the music, it was the influence [sic].
In spite of his relatively short recording career, Shakur left an enduring legacy within the hip-hop community. His popularity did not weaken after his death. In the same manner, Hussle’s work will continue to shine. The place where the “Hussle and Motivate” artist died has become a memorial scene complete with flowers, candles, balloons, and memorabilia of the famed rapper. Nipsey Hussle is hailed as this generation’s Tupac Shakur. To the fans delight, unlike Shakur, Hussle’s killer has been identified.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Black Enterprise: Nipsey Hussle Wants to Bridge the Gap Between the Inner City and Silicon Valley
Metro UK: Nipsey Hussle hailed this generation’s Tupac Shakur after being shot dead aged 33
Britannica: Tupac Shakur
Top Image Courtesy of Adam Bielawski – Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Neon Tommy’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License