Ermias Joseph Asghedom, the rapper known as Nipsey Hussle, was born on Aug. 15, 1985, and raised in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles.
His music career began with the release of his first mixtape, Slauson Boy Vol. 1, in 2005 at just 19 years old. While the tape found moderate success, it wasn’t until he released two more — Bullets Ain’t Got No Name Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 — that his profile began to build.
Nipsey’s star continued to rise as a young artist when he was chosen to be a part of XXL‘s 2010 Freshman Class, which featured other up-and-coming artists like J. Cole and Wiz Khalifa.
After being signed to Epic Records, the star left to create his own record label, All Money In, under which he released The Marathon (2010), The Marathon Continues (2011), Crenshaw (2013) and Mailbox Money (2014).
One of the ways Nipsey stood out was through his entrepreneurial spirit and mission to protect artists and their music. For his Crenshaw release, the star strategically produced only 1,000 physical copies of the mixtape, setting the price tag at $100 each.
“It was a scarcity model,” Hussle told GQ in February 2019.
In a statement issued to RapRadar.com in 2013, the rapper explained that he decided to adopt the unique business model as a way to stand up to major record labels.
“It ISN’T the price of the plastic case and polyurethane disc… it’s the price of Revolution!” he wrote. “The price of Rebellion against an industry that has tricked us all into making products that have no soul for fear of not being heard if we don’t.”
The rapper went on to sell all of his copies, with JAY-Z buying 100 of them.
Another fan of the tape was actress Lauren London, who told GQ that she wanted to buy copies as a wrap present for her The Game co-stars in 2013. After she bought the mixtapes, she started following Nipsey on Instagram and he followed back — then slid into her DMs.
Six years later, Nipsey and London became one of hip-hop’s most beloved couples, up until he died in March 2019.
The couple shared son Kross Asghedom, who was only 2 when his father passed. Nipsey marked his son’s birth with an Instagram post of Kross gripping his mother’s hand with the caption, “KROSS 8.31.16 🙏🏾”
Nipsey also has a daughter named Emani Asghedom, whom he shared with Tanisha Foster, and London has a son named Kameron Carter, whom she shares with rapper Lil Wayne.
Throughout the rapper’s career, he made it a point to come back to South Central L.A. to invest in his community. He unveiled Marathon Clothing, a store located in a strip mall that he purchased in his hometown, according to Forbes.
“We want to create enterprise around the music,” the then-33-year-old told the outlet shortly before his death. “As passionate as I am for music, I … have equal passion for making sure that when the music stops, the thing keeps going.”
Nipsey’s dedication to his community earned him the nickname “Neighborhood Nip,” which later became the namesake of the Asghedom family’s foundation that helps provide young artists with opportunities in the music business.
Another one of Nipsey’s contributions to his hometown was Vector90, a coworking community and incubator focused on developing underrepresented entrepreneurs, according to the company’s Facebook page. The collaborative space, which was developed by Nipsey and the District 8 Los Angeles City Council, unfortunately opened its doors after the passing of Neighborhood Nip, but continues to have a big presence in the community.
On March 31, 2019, Nipsey was tragically murdered at the age of 33 in front of his Marathon Clothing store in L.A.
The alleged shooter, aspiring rapper Eric Holder, and the star reportedly had a conversation about “snitching” before Holder shot him several times and kicked him in the head before he ran off, according to the LA Times.
Nipsey’s brother Samiel Asghedom recalled the harrowing incident to the outlet by first explaining that the Marathon Clothing store hired mostly felons. This provided them with opportunities to work, since most could not get jobs because of their criminal records. However, the employees had one rule to follow if they were to be employed: no one was allowed to carry guns.
“Because of that, the man was able to shoot my brother, start running, realize nobody out there had a gun, stop, turn back around, walk up, shoot my brother two more times, start to run, realize nobody had a gun, nobody was responding, ran back up and shot my brother three more times, shoot him in the head and kicked him in the head and then ran off,” Samiel told the outlet.
“If somebody would’ve been there — if I would’ve been there — I would’ve shot back,” he said. “I just wish I would’ve been there.”
Fans, family members and celebrity friends of the late star gathered at Nipsey’s store to pay their respects, following the devastating loss.
A memorial service honoring the late rapper was held at the Staples Center in L.A. on April 11, 2019. Everyone who loved Nipsey was in attendance in the packed arena, where Lauren London, Nipsey’s children and Nipsey’s mother, Angelique Smith, said their final goodbyes.
“His soul was majestic. He was the strongest man that I ever knew. A gentle father, a patient leader, a divine light. He was brilliant. He researched everything, completely self-taught, constantly seeking knowledge,” London said during her tearful eulogy.
“My pain is from a 2-year-old that probably won’t remember how much his dad loved him,” she continued. “This is something that I don’t really understand but I know Ermias always used to say that you can’t possess people; that you experience them. I’m so honored and blessed to experience such a man.”
London concluded: “To Ermias, the love of my life. You know what it is. Grief is the final act of love. My heart hears you, I feel you everywhere. I’m so grateful that I had you. I love you beyond this Earth. Until we meet again, the Marathon continues.”
On Jan. 26, 2020, Nipsey posthumously won his first Grammy for best rap performance for “Racks in the Middle,” featuring Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy, at the 2020 Grammy Awards. London, along with members of the Asghedom family, accepted the honor on his behalf.
“I speak on behalf of our family … in honor of Nip, who was a phenomenal vessel,” said London. “Nip did it not just for the awards, but for the people. And God allowed him to use this music to speak his truth, give his wisdom, and something that we will forever be able to live with.”
His grandmother Margaret Boutt added, “I wanted to thank all of you for showing all the love that I have felt for him all of his life that will always live in my heart.”
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