Skip to Content

The Many Aspirations of Nipsey Hussle

Grammy-nominated rapper, entrepreneur, community rejuvenator, father, partner, and neighbor Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed yesterday in front of his Marathon Clothing store in the Crenshaw neighborhood of South L.A. He was 33.

Two other people were injured at the scene. A suspect reportedly fled and is still at large.

Hussle was greeting fans like he often did; the store was one of the many ventures he launched or invested in as part of his broader vision to transform the lives of people in his community.

Even if you’re not a rap fan, it’s worth understanding who Nipsey Hussle was, if only to appreciate his extraordinary instincts for music, fashion, business strategy, and community development.

Plus, he was just a good person.

“He once gave a pair of shoes to every student at an elementary school in Hyde Park, where he owned a burger joint, a fish market and a barbershop,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “He helped fund upgrades to the campus playground and offered jobs to his struggling neighbors. If someone lost a loved one to gun violence, he would sometimes chip in for the funeral.”

He also helped restore a beloved and abandoned neighborhood roller rink with important ties to the L.A. hip-hop scene. In February 2017, he opened a co-working space and STEM center to help address the lack of diversity in technology and build bridges with corporate partners in Silicon Valley. Thanks to his musical aspirations, he’d gotten the tech bug early – he had learned to use software to record himself. That background helped him think at scale.

Hussle had also been vocal about his early days as a former gang member. “We dealt with death, with murder,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2018. “It was like living in a war zone, where people die on these blocks and everybody is a little bit immune to it. I guess they call it post-traumatic stress, when you have people that have been at war for such a long time. I think L.A. suffers from that because it’s not normal yet we embrace it like it is after a while.”

Hussle, whose given name was Ermias Asghedom, was scheduled to meet today with Los Angeles Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff, Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore, along with representatives from Jay-Z’s music management firm, Roc Nation “to talk about ways he could help stop gang violence and help us help kids,” tweeted Soboroff. “I’m so very sad.”

And so is Los Angeles today.

For more, don’t miss this exceptional tribute from music and pop culture writer Gerrick D. Kennedy.

While you’re reading, it may be worth wondering why more people didn’t know who he was.

After all, he was an exemplar of the American dream, bootstraps, street hustle and all. But as Kennedy points out, part of that dream was to bring out the greatness in the people who have been shut out of the American achiever narrative. “Hussle didn’t just envision a vibrant South L.A.,” Kennedy writes, “but he saw it as a hub for our nation’s brightest intellectual thinkers.”

It’s part of why it’s so painful to lose him so early in his leadership journey.

“In our culture, there’s a narrative that says, ‘Follow the athletes, follow the entertainers,'” Hussle said after he opened Vector 9, his tech-fused co-working space. “And that’s cool but there should be something that says, ‘Follow Elon Musk, follow [Mark] Zuckerberg.’ I think that with me being influential as an artist and young and coming from the inner city, it makes sense for me to be one of the people that’s waving that flag.”

 

Special note: Check out Fortune‘s newest newsletter Eye on A.I. The weekly briefing on the intersection of artificial intelligence and industry will give you an overarching view of A.I. and show you where it excels and where it fails. Subscribe here.

On Point

The 50th annual NAACP Image Awards were a moodBeyonce may have bested all-star lineup to win Entertainer of the Year, but took her time to praise each of her fellow nominees: LeBron James, Regina King, Chadwick Boseman, and director Ryan Coogler. “I’m honored to be included among all of you and to be a part of a vital and thriving community.” Empire star Jussie Smollett was also nominated for an award, but neither won nor attended. And before he presented the award for outstanding comedy series to “black-ish,” Chris Rock spilled some tea. “They said no Jussie Smollett jokes,” Rock said. “Yeah, I know, but what a waste of light skin. Do you know what I could do with that light skin?” he went on. “My career would be out of here. I would be running Hollywood. What the hell was he thinking? After the award was announced, “black-ish” star Yara Shahidi took the stage and said, “I stand with Jussie,” before relinquishing the mic.USA Today

For the first time, the Census will collect responses in Arabic and six additional languages
There are now 13 languages available for census respondents to choose from, and Modern Standard Arabic, one of the fastest growing languages spoken in the U.S., is part of a new offering: French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese and Tagalog. While it’s a rare bit of good news from the Census, Arab community advocates are still worried. “This is a huge step in the right direction,” said the president and CEO of the Brooklyn-based Arab-American Family Support Center. “But there is still a huge risk that immigrant communities of Arab, Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian descent will be undercounted.”
NPR

Firms are struggling to lure top executive talent to polluted Asian cities
Major recruiting firms report that despite perks like insulated apartments, fancy breathing equipment, special check-ups, “smog break” vacations and cash, executives are passing on assignments in major cities in the Asia Pacific region citing the health effects of air pollution. Companies like Panasonic and Coca Cola have offered “pollution premiums” for incoming talent, but despite the creative efforts, recruiters are now finding they’re increasingly stuck with lower-tier candidates. “In the last three to five years, I’ve seen a lot of people, especially with kids, who basically chose to put an end to their career here and move,” said one Shanghai-based executive. According to the UN, some 92% of people who live in the Asia Pacific area are exposed to a level of air pollution that can cause significant health risks.
Yahoo News

The first black-owned beauty supply store in Nashville is a hit
Roots Hair and Beauty in Nashville, Tenn. opened its doors last month to a line around the block. Opening day sales were $50,000, a delight to owner Sam Tinsdale. The company already has two locations in Chattanooga, Tenn. They also want you to know that they Roots specializes in all categories in beauty supply like 100% human hair bundles, quick weaves, branded hair weaves, crochet braiding, natural hair products, and much more.
Black Detour

 

On Background

Trans women are women
Yesterday was the #TransDayofVisibility, so take a minute to follow the hashtag for important commentary and resources. I’ll flag this opinion piece written by philosophy professor Carol Hay, who tackles intersectional feminism and asks that trans women be welcomed in conversations about women and equity. “Traditional” feminists have a history to examine, she says. “Any attempt to catalog the commonalities among women, in other words, has the inescapable result that there is some correct way to be a woman,” she writes. Leaving people out of the conversation, typically low-income women and/or women of color, has huge implications for marginalized people when advocating for equity and policy change. “The women who are accused of being impostors these days are often trans women.”
New York Times

How to support Hispanic entrepreneurs and business leaders in your community
You can start by asking them what they need. In a first-ever summit of the kind, the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce met with more than 80 Latinx entrepreneurs and executives to better understand the changing needs of the Latinx business community. There are about 11,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in the area, many in professional sectors such as law, hospitality, and finance. Among the suggestions were city-subsidized internship programs, a new mentoring program, and a directory of Latinx businesses and professionals – a perfect resource for anyone looking to diversify their conference panels or supplier networks. Click through for more ideas.
Philly

A village of formerly enslaved people was razed to make way for Central Park
It was called Seneca Village, and it grew to span the blocks between 82 and 89 streets on what is now the western edge of the park. It was founded in 1825 and became a refuge for the nominally free men and women who lived and worked there; half of the residents owned their own homes. Three churches, a school and dozens of homes were demolished, seized in a court battle that didn’t last long. Researchers from Columbia, CUNY, and the New York Historical Society have been pushing to excavate, with some efforts beginning in earnest in 2011. To understand more about the black experience up North in the 1800s would be a gift to history. It can’t have been easy. Said Mordecai Noah, founder of The New York Enquirer, “the free negroes of this city are a nuisance incomparably greater than a million slaves.” 
Bushman Tumblr

Quote

RIP Harambe / Sipping on some Bombay / We on our way to heaven / Amen, Amen…RIP Harambe / Smoking on some strong / In the gorilla zoo / And we thinking about you.
—Elon Musk aka Emo G