Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle had an important meeting scheduled Monday afternoon. It wasn’t with a fellow musician, nor did it have anything to do with his burgeoning hip-hop career. Hussle was going to sit down with the president of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners and the city’s chief of police to tackle an issue that, along with his music, had come to define his life: gang violence.
According to Steve Soboroff, president of the city’s police commission, Hussle had wanted “to talk about ways he could help stop gang violence and help us help kids.” The 33-year-old Los Angeles native has been transparent about his history as a member of the Rollin 60s, which he once described as “one of the biggest Crip gangs of our generation.”
But Hussle wasn’t able to attend that meeting.
On Sunday, Hussle was killed in a shooting outside a South Los Angeles clothing store he owned. Two others were injured in the shooting, police said.
At about 3:25 p.m. local time on Sunday, Los Angeles Police Department officers responded to a call about a shooting at the Marathon Clothing store, which Hussle opened in 2017, Lt. Chris Ramirez told reporters at a news conference. Arriving at the scene, police found three people “suffering from gunshot wounds,” Ramirez said.
Two of the people were taken to a hospital, Ramirez said, one of which the medical examiner’s office later confirmed was Ermias Joseph Asghedom, born on Aug. 15, 1985 — the rapper known as Nipsey Hussle. The Los Angeles County coroner determined Hussle died from gunshot wounds to the head and torso. He was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m., Sunday, according to a press release posted Monday afternoon. The coroner certified Hussle’s death as a homicide.
The other person taken to the hospital was in “stable condition” and was “expected to pull through,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez told reporters that authorities have launched a homicide investigation and are searching for a suspect. Additional details of what happened are still “sketchy,” Ramirez said.
“It’s going to be lengthy,” he said about the investigation.
Having strong enemies is a blessing.— THA GREAT (@NipseyHussle) March 31, 2019
While the investigation spins up, Hussle’s store has become an impromptu memorial to the rapper and the other casualties of the shooting. Mourners are laying flowers and lighting candles at the store, and leaving signs bearing tributes to Hussle, an NBC affilate reported. “People who help matter,” one tribute read.
Local activists gathered in a bank parking lot near the crime scene Monday morning to call for the shooter to surrender to authorities, and ask the community to continue the work that Hussle had started.
“This is not going to end in one day with Nipsey’s murder,” said Los Angeles city council candidate Denise Frances Woods. "What do we do after tomorrow when all the cameras go away? It’s time for us to come together, to work together.”
The press conference’s organizer, Project Islamic Hope CEO Najee Ali, told The Post that they would also launch a petition to have the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue renamed in Hussle’s honor.
“Young black people in South Los Angeles don’t have many heroes, but they did have one that walked among them every day, and that was Nipsey,” he said.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore tweeted that Saturday’s shooting was “the latest loss in a troubling surge in violence" citywide.
Tonight's homicide in South LA represents the latest loss in a troubling surge in violence. Since last Sunday 26 victims have been shot & 10 homicides—that's 36 families left picking up the pieces. We will work aggressively with our community to quell this senseless loss of life. pic.twitter.com/1fsJXCcflS— Chief Michel Moore (@LAPDChiefMoore) April 1, 2019
The rate of violent crime in the city went down in 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported last year, and homicides declined 9 percent from the previous year. Moore told the Times that gang-related homicides were down 20 percent, and said the city “turned a little bit of a corner.”
In the wake of Hussle’s death, Moore promised to “work aggressively” to reduce the loss of life.
Growing up in Crenshaw, a South Los Angeles neighborhood known for its rampant gang activity, Hussle was no stranger to street violence, he told VladTV in 2014.
He recalled “being young, riding your bike through the hood getting shot at.” He saw “loved ones and homies” his age “getting killed, getting shot at.” Getting jumped at the mall or high school sporting events was just a part of life, he said.
“I grew up in gang culture,” Hussle told the Los Angeles Times last year. “We dealt with death, with murder. 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.”
After he left home at age 14, it didn’t take Hussle long to get caught up in the drama of the streets. By 15 or 16, he had dropped out of high school after being accused of stealing computers, which he insisted to Complex in 2010 that he didn’t do.
“I was taking care of myself early on,” he told VladTV. “I was doing things to try to get money, so I could support myself.”
He later added, explaining his decision to join the Rollin 60s: “After a while it’d just be like you always in the middle of some s--- you might as well be part of it.”
Still, Hussle said he always kept his focus on his “first passion”: music.
“I was freestyling to a Snoop [Dogg] CD when I was nine years old,” Hussle wrote in an October 2018 piece for the Players’ Tribune. But it would take more than 20 years for him to release his first studio album, “Victory Lap,” which debuted last year and earned him a nomination for best rap album at the 2019 Grammy Awards. The album also features guest appearances from big-name rappers such as Kendrick Lamar, Diddy and YG, among others.
“Like a lot of Crenshaw kids, I was never supposed to have success,” Hussle wrote. “I ain’t have no line to [Dr.] Dre. No rich uncles. No musicians in my family. I only had the culture.”
Armed with this culture, largely influenced by West Coast rap legends including Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Tupac Shakur, Hussle made a name for himself in the music industry by dropping numerous mix tapes. He later garnered even more attention for how he marketed some of his music — releasing the tracks as free digital downloads, while jacking up the price on limited-edition physical copies.
The technique, heralded as “revolutionary” by the Times, even caught the attention of rapper and producer Jay-Z. According to the Times, the music mogul bought 100 copies of Hussle’s 2013 release “Crenshaw,” which were priced at $100 each.
But even as his music career started to take off, Hussle never forgot where he came from. He became widely celebrated for his active involvement in community projects aimed at improving life for residents, especially young people, in South Los Angeles. The rapper’s efforts included rebuilding an elementary school’s basketball court and furthering science, technology, engineering and math education.
“I just want to give back in an effective way,” he told the Times in 2018. “I remember being young and really having the best intentions and not being met on my efforts. You’re, like, ‘I’m going to really lock into my goals and my passion and my talents’ but you see no industry support. You see no structures or infrastructure built and you get a little frustrated.”
Last year, he opened a co-working space and STEM center called Vector90 in South Central Los Angeles, the Times reported. The goal of the center is to be a “bridge in between Silicon Valley and the inner city,” Hussle said in a video posted to Instagram in January 2018. He added that he hoped to take the concept beyond Los Angeles to cities across the country, including Baltimore, Washington and Atlanta.
“Growing up as a kid, I was looking for somebody — not to give me anything — but somebody that cared,” he told the Times. “Someone that was creating the potential for change and that had an agenda outside of their own self interests.”
The rapper also took part in the city’s “Destination Crenshaw” project, “a 1.3-mile-long outdoor art and culture experience celebrating Black Los Angeles,” according to its website.
“I understand my obligation — I got an obligation to my community first, my family first, to hoods like L.A. all around the country who live for the culture,” he wrote in the Players’ Tribune. “I have a duty to justify the seat that I’m sitting in. Nobody has any success on his own.”
During the LAPD’s news conference with reporters Sunday, a large group of people gathered behind yellow police tape outside the crime scene. By nightfall, that crowd was “in the hundreds,” Ramirez told The Post. Fans played Hussle’s music from speakers and lit candles in remembrance, the Times reported.
On Facebook, city council member Marqueece Harris-Dawson called Hussle “a poignantly brilliant musician, and a tireless advocate for South LA,” sharing a photo of the rapper attending a march against gun violence five years ago at a local high school.
“You will truly be missed, and your legacy will live on!” Harris-Dawson wrote in another post.
The rapper was in a relationship with actress and model Lauren London, and the pair had a young son. Hussle also had a daughter.
London has yet to publicly address the shooting, but the Los Angeles Crisis Response Team tweeted Sunday that it was “now consoling and offering support to the family.”
Today we lost a great musician, Nipsey Hussle. Our Mayor’s Crises Response Team has responded to this tragedy. We are now consoling and offering support to the family. Our prayers are with them and all those who knew and loved Nipsey Hussle.— Los Angeles Crisis Response Team (@lamayor_crt) April 1, 2019
“My whole energy is just at a low right now hearing this,” Drake wrote in a lengthy Instagram post. Drake noted that he and Hussle had plans to collaborate on a new song. “You were having the best run and I was so happy watching from distance fam nobody ever talks down on your name you were a real one to your people and to the rest of us. I’m only doing this here cause I want the world to know I saw you as a man of respect and a don. Rest easy my g.”
😥😥😥😥😥😥‼️‼️‼️‼️ So so SAD man!! DAMN man this hurt.— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 1, 2019
Legend tweeted that he was “utterly stunned” by the news, writing that he had just filmed video for a collaboration with Hussle on Thursday.
“He was so gifted, so proud of his home, so invested in his community,” the singer wrote.
Rapper The Game posted an emotional video on his Instagram Story, where he reflected on Hussle’s death as he drove around Los Angeles in the early hours of Sunday morning.“I can’t sleep,” he said. “I’m disgusted.”
RIP Nipsey man. This is tragic— Chance Owbum 📅 (@chancetherapper) April 1, 2019
Actress Issa Rae of HBO’s “Insecure” tweeted that Hussle had inspired her “to invest and own in our communities.”
“He was a solid man who loved his woman, his family and his community,” Rae wrote. “This hurts.”