Hussle, who had two children and was engaged to actress Lauren London, was an Eritrean American whose real name was Ermias Asghedom. He was born in Los Angeles on Aug. 15, 1985, and raised in the Crenshaw neighborhood, just north of where he died. He had been working to provide youths with alternatives to the hustling he did when he was younger.
Los Angeles Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff tweeted that he and Police Chief Michel Moore had been planning to meet on Monday with Hussle and representatives of Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment agency and production company, to “talk about ways he could help stop gang violence and help us help kids.”
Hussle explained where he was coming from in a Los Angeles Times interview last year: “In our culture, there’s a narrative that says, ‘Follow the athletes, follow the entertainers,’ ” he said. “And that’s cool, but there should be something that says, ‘Follow Elon Musk, follow [Mark] Zuckerberg.’ ”
Hussle said his first passion was music but that getting resources was tough after leaving his mother’s house at 14 to live with his grandmother. As a teenager, he joined the Rollin’ 60s, a gang affiliated with the Crips.
“The culture of my area is the gang culture,” he said in a 2014 interview with VladTV. “So by being outside, being involved with hustling, being in the hood, doing things to try to get money . . . We were just raised like, if you with me and something goes, now, I’m in it.”
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Music eventually happened for Hussle, whose stage name riffed on that of comedian Nipsey Russell. He released a number of successful mix tapes that he sold out of the trunk of his car, helping him create a buzz and gain respect from rap purists and his peers.
In 2010 he placed on hip-hop magazine XXL’s “Freshman Class of 2010” — a coveted list for up-and-coming acts — alongside artists including J. Cole, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa and Jay Rock. He hit a new peak in 2018 with “Victory Lap,” his major-label debut on Atlantic Records, which made Billboard and Complex’s best-of lists. The album debuted at No. 4 on the charts and was nominated for a Grammy for best rap album.
Outside of music, Hussle said he wanted to provide hope and motivation to those who grew up in Crenshaw like him. Forbes magazine reported in February that with business partner Dave Gross, the rapper had purchased the Crenshaw plaza where his Marathon Clothing store is located and had plans to knock it down and “rebuild it as a six-story residential building atop a commercial plaza where a revamped Marathon store will be the anchor tenant.”
“Watching Nipsey inspired me to invest and own in our communities,” actress Issa Rae, also from Los Angeles, wrote on Twitter.