It was October 23th in 2013 and I was walking around campus at my now alma mater, Morehouse College, listening to Nipsey Hussle’s new mixtape, Crenshaw. While I wasn’t one of the people that bought a physical, limited edition copy of the project for $100 (I downloaded it via DatPiff), I respected the vision. Nipsey’s purpose for putting a $100 price tag on the mixtape was to create a conversation. That goal was achieved. Nipsey sold all 1,000 copies of his project in less than 24 hours (including 100 copies to Jay-Z), effectively making $100,000. Nipsey didn’t listen to other people’s valuation of himself. He kept his head high, knew his value even when many disagreed, bet on himself and won.
That lesson is just one among thousands of others that Nipsey has taught us over the years. While his marketing tactics are to be admired, what he did outside of rap is what will truly keep his legacy alive. From investing in the education of underrepresented and disenfranchised Black kids in South Los Angeles to expressing the importance of real estate and making efforts to bring Black-owned businesses and jobs to his neighborhood, Nipsey was a light in a community filled with darkness.
His last album, Victory Lap, was Grammy-nominated and is still regarded as one of the best albums to release in 2018. As always, Nip continued to inspire with every lyric he rapped. While a victory lap, by definition, is the celebratory lap one takes after they won a race, Nip’s Victory Lap is him passing off the baton to us for the last leg. He gave us everything he had and now it’s up to us to finish off the race.
Being the rapper, Nipsey Hussle, is what got him in our ears, but being Ermias Joseph Asghedom — a father, son, best friend, role model, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and much more — is what will forever keep him in our hearts. Nipsey even said it himself, “I ain’t nothin’ like you f****n rap n****s.” And from the depths of our souls, we thank you for that.