April 18, 2019 

By Kimberlee Buck 

Contributing Writer 

 

On Thursday, April 11, thousands of fans across the U.S. gathered in downtown Los Angeles at the Staples Center to say their farewells to rapper, philanthropist, and community activist Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom, who was killed in front of his Marathon Clothing store in late March. The funeral is the first of its kind to be held at the sports and entertainment center since the death of pop star Michael Jackson in 2009.

 

The memorial service opened with words from Pastors Reid Rich and Shep Crawford, followed by a slideshow with images of Hussle throughout the years, as well as photos of the rapper with his family, friends, and longtime girlfriend Lauren London.

 

Next, singer Marsha Ambrosius took to the stage to pay tribute to Hussle with a performance of Mariah Carey’s song, “Fly Like A Bird.”

 

Hussle’s business partner and friend, Karen Civil, read a letter from former U.S. President Barack Obama to the audience.

 

In the letter, Obama expressed his condolences to the family and encouraged others to continue fulfilling the vision Hussle had for the Crenshaw community.

 

“I’ve never met Nipsey but I’ve heard his music through my daughters, and after his passing, I had a chance to learn more about his transformation and his community work. While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and only see gangs, bullets, and despair, Nipsey saw potential,” read the letter.

 

 “He saw hope. He saw a community that even through its flaws taught him to always keep going. His choice to invest in that community, rather than to ignore it, to build a skills training center, a co-working space in Crenshaw to lift of the Eritrea American community. He set an example for young people to follow and that is a legacy worth celebration. I hope his memory inspires more good work in Crenshaw and communities like it.”

 

After the reading of the letter Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan accompanied by Brother Tony Muhammad, shared his thoughts on the “prophetic soul” of Hussle.

 

“The work that his life will produce, will go down in history as something that has changed the world. The name Ermias in the language of the Eritrean people means God is rising,” said Farrakhan.

 

“The name Nipsey in that same language means homie, a brother from the hood that never really left the hood but now the whole world will have to embrace him as his life and his death changes the hood and produces a profound change in the world. Ermias was more than a Hip-Hop artist. He was a voice, he was a brilliant mind and the spirit of God was in his life.”

 

Next, Hussle’s daughter Emani Asghedom, two-year-old son Kross Asghedom (the shared child between London and Hussle) and Kameron Carter (London’s son with rapper Lil Wayne) appeared on the stage dressed in white and blue. The children were accompanied by London and Hussle’s sister Samantha Smith.

 

“One the night of April 2, I had a dream I was in a paradise and I was playing in the ocean water when Ermias popped up right behind me. He said ‘what up killa’ because that’s my nickname,” said Carter, who spoke on behalf of the other children.

 

“I turned around and I yelled his name and I gave him a hug. Shortly, he was gone. I told my mom about the dream and after I told her I was thinking about it and I realized that Ermias told me what Heaven was like. He told me it was paradise.”

 

Hussle’s mother and father Angelique Smith and Dawit Asghedom also spoke to the audience. 

 

“I have perfect peace. I am happy, I am complete. I am strong and if I can feel this way, so can you. We call on the creator for everything and on mother earth who sustains us. We call on the energies who guide and protect us as we make our way in life. We call on our ancestors to join us at this service,” said Angelique Smith.

 

“We ask the ancestors of Ermias Joseph Asghedom to keep him company on his journey and we ask them to be there. I ask that all of our ancestors guide and protect us and give us the gift of perfect peace,” Hussle’s mother prayed.

 

Hussle’s brother Samiel Asghedom spoke about the rapper’s contributions.

 

 “He just wanted to inspire and always bring something back. It wasn’t about how some people think handouts are given. When we were growing up, we just admired the people in the community that was hustling and had because we grew up kind of have nots. They didn’t have to give us anything, they inspired us. Nip was about ­demonstrating and coming back,” he said.

 

Hussle’s girlfriend, London, shared a text she had written him on January 1, 2019, as well as other personal stories.

 

“I just want you to know that you have been the greatest boyfriend to me, and even though you are not perfect, I would never ask you to be,” read London’s text.

 

“You and I work, we fit, and you are the coolest guy in the world to me still. I love you so much unconditionally. My truth is this, I’m never gonna give up on you. My love and my devotion is to you.”

 

London goes on to describe the type of man Hussle was.

 

“His soul was majestic and he was the strongest man I ever knew. A gentle father. A patient leader, a divine light. He was brilliant, he researched everything. Completely self-taught, constantly seeking knowledge.”

 

 

Following London’s speech, Hussle’s sister Samantha Smith spoke next.

 

“To my brother, my protector, my guy who thought he was my daddy and it’s okay. I just first want to say thank you for loving me unconditionally, for never judging me, for having my back always, anytime no matter what you was doing,” she said.

 

Finally, Hussle’s father Dawit Asghedom spoke. He described his son as a “fighter” and encouraged others to stop the violence. 

 

Rapper Snoop Dogg followed with his condolences to London and Hussle’s family. 

 

“For those who knew Nipsey Hussle personally, you knew that he had nothing but love for every gang member from Southern California. I don’t care what neighborhood you are from,” said Snoop Dogg.

 

He goes on to explain how Hussle made records with both Crips and Bloods which untied the neighborhoods.

 

“You are a peace advocate Nip, that’s what you are and I know that because that’s what I am and the marathon is going to continue period! My final words will be for God so loved the world that he gave us a Crip. The late great neighborhood Nip.” 

 

Other speakers and guest appearances included: Singer Anthony Hamilton; Father Thomas Uwal from the Nation of  Eritera; singer Jhené Aiko, Stevie Wonder; rapper YG, DJ Mustard;  and Adam Andebrha.

 

Following the three-hour-long memorial service, the family held a processional for those who were unable to attend the celebration of life inside the Staple Center.

 

Thousands of fans flooded the streets as the silver hearse carrying Hussle’s body made its way to some of the most memorable places in the rapper’s life.

 

The 25.5-mile procession began at Staples Center and made its way through South L.A., La Brea Avenue and Manchester Boulevard in Inglewood, and Slauson Avenue where Hussle’s Marathon Clothing store is located.

 

As the hearse made its way through each stop, fans held up Eritrean flags and Nipsey Hussle memorabilia. Those who were able to get close enough to the vehicle were able to touch the hearse and throw white and red roses on top. Others stood on the curb, in the streets, and on rooftops of local buildings while singing and dancing to their favorite songs from the rapper’s album.

 

“I am here to show solidarity but to also let them know if they take one of us out, we have a thousand coming on solider strong. That man, he was the brain, he was the thinker but he also had soldiers,” said a Final Call representative.

 

“He mobilized with his music. He put a lot of economic empowerment into his music. He also was able to showcase a level of opulence within the Hip-Hop community and he carried himself as a king, so I salute that man.”

 

Local residents Nancy York and Chynah Blaque also told the LA Sentinel what Hussle meant to them.

 

“Nipsey Hussle was a great inspiration for the community. He was a young African-American man that was a gang member but he turned himself around as far as building up in the community to where he was, helping pretty much everyone that came up to him. He would do anything for his community and people across the world,” said York.

 

York goes on to explain how other rappers can keep Hussle’s legacy alive.

 

“Pretty much keep the marathon going and giving to the community by building parks and putting money back in the community so that all the kids can have a safe environment.”

 

 Blaque who told the Sentinel that she was friends with Nipsey stated: “He was a great young man, his energy was everything and he not only lived in this community, he was a product of this community. What he did was a great body of work. It hasn’t been done by any African American and he was 33 years young and he accomplished a lot in his years of being in this place. Hopefully celebrities, and even just us as Black people, Black people as a whole that we will step up especially the men, and just give guidance to the young men in the community as well and just continue [Hussle’s] legacy. 

 

Hussle’s final victory lap ended in front of Angelus Funeral Home.

 

What fans and local residents are taking away from Hussle’s legacy is this: Invest in the Black community, uplift the Black community, and give back to the Black community. Although the rapper and community activist has been laid to rest, in the words of the South Los Angeles community, “the marathon continues.”

Category: Arts & Culture


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