Nipsey Hussle (often stylized as Nipsey Hu$$le) (August 15, 1985 – March 31, 2019), was born Ermias Joseph Asghedom and was an American rapper, entrepreneur, and community activist from Los Angeles, California. He emerged from the West Coast hip hop scene in the mid-2000s and independently released his first mixtape, Slauson Boy Volume 1, to moderate local success, leading him to be signed to Cinematic Music Group and Epic Records.
Ermias Joseph Asghedom (Nipsey Hussle) was born to Angelique Smith, an African-American woman, and Dawit Asghedom, an Eritrean immigrant, on August 15, 1985. He was raised in the Crenshaw neighborhood of South Los Angeles with his brother Samiel and his sister Samantha. He attended Hamilton High School in Castle Heights, but dropped out before graduating. At the age of 14, he left home and joined the local Rollin 60’s Neighborhood Crips, a sub-group of the larger Crips gang primarily based in Crenshaw. His stage name, a play on the name of comedian Nipsey Russell, originated as a nickname given by a childhood friend.
At the age of 19, Nipsey’s father took both him and his brother Samiel on a trip to Eritrea, East Africa for three months. Nipsey credited this trip with inspiring him to become a community activist with an “entrepreneurial spirit”
Hussle became known for his numerous mixtapes, including his Bullets Ain’t Got No Name series, The Marathon, The Marathon Continues and Crenshaw, the last of which rapper Jay-Z bought 100 copies for $100 each.
In December 2005, Hussle independently released his first mixtape, Slauson Boy Volume 1, to moderate local success. His debut project helped to build a small regional fanbase on the west coast, and eventually led to Hussle being signed to Cinematic Music Group and Epic Records. In 2008, Hussle released the first two installments in his Bullets Ain’t Got No Name series of mixtapes, which helped to bring Hussle’s music to a larger audience.
Nipsey’s profile continued to grow into 2009, when he collaborated with Drake on the song “Killer”, and also appeared, along with Snoop Dogg and Problem, on the song “Upside Down”, from Snoop Dogg’s 2009 album Malice n Wonderland. He also released the third instalment in Bullets Ain’t Got No Name, as well as his commercial debut single, “Hussle in the House”. Despite the song, which samples Kris Kross’ 1992 single Jump, being well received by critics, it failed to make any impact on the charts.
After Epic experienced financial issues in 2010, Nipsey opted not to renew his contract and left the label. Not long after going independent, Hussle appeared on the song “We Are the World 25 for Haiti”, and was featured by XXL Magazine as one of its “Annual Freshman Top Ten”, a selection of ten up-and-coming hip-hop artists to watch. XXL labeled him “Most Determined” of his class, and LA Weekly called him the “next big L.A. MC”. Hussle was expected to release his debut album, South Central State of Mind, in October 2010. Prior to release, the album was supported by the single “Feelin’ Myself” featuring Lloyd. While the production was set to be handled from J.R. Rotem, Scott Storch, Mr. Lee, Play-N-Skillz, Terrace Martin and 1500 or Nothin’, the album was set to be featured with the guest appearances from Trey Songz, Jay Rock and Sean Kingston. Concurrently, he announced that he planned on releasing a mixtape with fellow rapper Jay Rock, titled Red and Blue Make Green. Following the release of a music video for “Feelin’ Myself”, the album was set for a December 21, 2010, release; however, both of these projects were eventually postponed indefinitely.
After leaving Epic, Nipsey founded his own record label, All Money In. On December 21, 2010, he released his first All Money In Records mixtape, titled The Marathon, which featured guest appearances from Kokane and MGMT. On November 1, 2011, Hussle released a sequel titled The Marathon Continues, which featured L.A. rappers YG and Dom Kennedy. On April 17, 2012, Hussle released a collaborative album with fellow rapper Blanco, Raw. The album featured guest appearances from YG, Mistah FAB, Yukmouth, B-Legit, Kokane and Freeway.
In May 2012, Nipsey released a single titled Proud of That, marking his first collaboration with Florida rapper Rick Ross. Nipsey was subsequently featured on Ross’ Maybach Music Group’s song “Fountain of Youth”, which appears on the label’s second album Self Made Vol. 2. The music video was released on October 1, 2012. Rumours began to circulate that Nipsey would sign with MMG, and in December 2012, Hussle himself hinted at signing, however, he also said that he was still looking for the right label.
Hussle said that he would be releasing his third and final instalment of The Marathon mixtape series with TM3: Victory Lap in 2013, after it was pushed back from its initial December 2012 release date. He also announced that he was planning on releasing a joint mixtape with a fellow West Coast rapper and frequent collaborator YG. Hussle performed at the 2013 Paid Dues festival on March 30, 2013 in California. After deciding against signing to a major label, due to a lack of creative freedom, he choose to make Victory Lap his debut album.
Beginning in 2013, he released various songs from his upcoming mixtape Crenshaw, including the 9th Wonder produced track “Face the World”, and a The Futuristics and 1500 or Nothin’ produced track “Blessings”.On August 6, 2013, Hussle announced that Victory Lap would now be released as an album, rather than a mixtape. Prior to the release of Victory Lap, Nipsey announced on September 16, 2013, that he would be releasing a new mixtape, Crenshaw (hosted by DJ Drama), on October 8, 2013. On September 24, 2013, he revealed the track list for Crenshaw, which contained guest appearances from Rick Ross, Dom Kennedy, Slim Thug, James Fauntleroy II, Z-Ro, Skeme and Sade, among others. The production on the mixtape was handled by The Futuristics, 1500 or Nothin’, 9th Wonder, Mike Free, Ralo and Jiggy Hendrix, among others. He also released the “Crenshaw” documentary that day in promotion of the mixtape. On October 3, 2013, he released another trailer for the mixtape, and attracted attention when he revealed 1,000 hard copies of the mixtape would be sold for $100 each. Jay Z personally bought 100 copies. He reportedly sold out all 1,000 copies in less than 24 hours, effectively making $100,000.
Upon the release of Crenshaw, Hussle said that Victory Lap would be released in 2014. On November 20, 2013, Hussle confirmed that Victory Lap would feature production from Ralo, 1500 or Nothin’, The Futuristiks and DJ Mustard. He later confirmed more producers, including Don Cannon and DJ Khalil on the album. After the year went by with no new releases, Hussle released a new mixtape, Mailbox Money on New Years Eve 2014, again releasing 1000 hard copies for $100 each.
Nipsey made a number of guest appearances throughout 2015 and 2016, working with Jadakiss, Trae Tha Truth and YG. In 2016, he released another mixtape, titled Famous Lies and Unpopular Truth. He commented on the 2016 US presidential election by releasing the single “FDT” (“Fuck Donald Trump”) with YG; the song was written about Hussle’s positive experiences with Mexican immigrants in the United States, whom Trump had criticized.
After numerous delays, Hussle’s debut studio album, Victory Lap, was released on February 16, 2018, debuting at number 4 on the Billboard 200, selling 53,000 album equivalent units in its first week. The album was met with universal acclaim from critics, and numerous songs entered the Billboard Hot 100, including “Double Up”, “Last Time I Checc’d” and “Dedication”, marking Nipsey’s debut on the chart as a lead artist. Victory Lap was also nominated for a Best Rap Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in 2019, but lost out to Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy. Over 1 year after its release, the album reached a new peak of number 2 on the Billboard 2000 in April 2019 after Hussle’s murder on March 31. His single “Racks in the Middle” featuring Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy also reached a new peak of number 44 following his death.
Hussle wanted to focus on “giving solutions and inspiration” to young black men like him. He denounced gun violence through his music, influence and community work. He spoke openly about his experiences with gang culture. He not only funded improvements to neighborhood schools but also spent time with students and participated on panels about growing up in the area and the influence of gang culture. Hussle started a co-working environment which he named Vector 90. From his own experience, he saw the Crenshaw area as being under served and that young people would benefit from communal workspaces. He also intended young people to be able to take classes in science, technology and mathematics at the center.
In March, Hussle had contacted officials from the LAPD to arrange a meeting with him and Roc Nation about what they could do to help prevent gang violence in South Los Angeles. The meeting had been scheduled to take place on April 1, 2019. Hussle was murdered the day before. According to Los Angeles Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff, the meeting will still take place at a future date, in Hussle’s honor.
Hussle’s Marathon branding inspired Steve Carless in 2013 when he founded Marathon Agency with business partners Karen Civil and Jorge Peniche. They designed the talent-based brand to attract a diverse set of clients in all stages of their careers. In October 2016, Carless, the head of the agency, told Billboard that Nipsey had invested “like over six figures” in the Marathon Agency and described him as “kind of like our silent partner.”
On June 17, 2017, Nipsey inaugurated the “Marathon Clothing” store, which he founded along with partners Carless, Civil, and his brother Samiel Asghedom. Opening the store at this intersection along the Crenshaw commercial district was important to him because he wanted to invest and provide opportunities in his neighborhood of Hyde Park . The store is billed as a “smart store,” which bridges the gap between culture and technology by giving customers access to exclusive music and other content created by rappers through an app created by software engineer Iddris Sandu. The year before he was murdered, Hussle had bought the L-shaped shopping center where Hussle’s store was located with real estate investor David Gross who was also a South Los Angeles native.
In 2007, Hussle played a small role in Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s semi-autobiographical film I Tried, which was directed by Rich Newey. In 2010, he starred in the film Caged Animal, alongside Ving Rhames, Gillie Da Kid and Robert Patrick. In 2015, Hussle was featured in a cameo “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” in the pilot episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, rapping two bars before abruptly stopping and commenting on Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom)’s long grooming routine.
Hussle and actress Lauren London began dating in 2013. They had a child together, born on August 31, 2016. London has a child from a previous relationship with fellow rapper Lil Wayne, while Hussle had a daughter, Emani, from a previous relationship. He remained very involved in South Los Angeles with his businesses, charitable activities, and the homes of family and friends. The locations for a magazine shoot were in the neighborhood.
On March 31, 2019, Hussle was shot multiple times in the parking lot of his store, Marathon Clothing, in South Los Angeles at about 3:25 p.m. Hussle was hit five times in the torso and once in the head. Two others were wounded in the shooting. All three victims were transported to a hospital, where Hussle was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. He was 33 years old.
Police have identified 29-year-old Eric Holder as a suspect. Investigators believe Holder was known to the rapper and that the shooting was possibly motivated by a personal matter. On April 2, 2019, Holder was apprehended by members of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Hussle is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Southern California.
Hussle’s memorial service was held on April 11 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, with tickets given away free of charge. A letter from former president Barack Obama, which praised the rapper for his work in the community, was read:
|“||While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets, and despair, Nipsey saw potential.||”|
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