Ermias Joseph Asghedom, the rapper and entrepreneur known as Nipsey Hussle, will be laid to rest Thursday. Hussle, 33, was gunned down in broad daylight on the afternoon of March 31 in front of the clothing business he owned, Marathon, in the Hyde Park neighborhood in Los Angeles.
Thousands of fellow artists, fans and admirers poured into the Staples Arena in Los Angeles to pay tribute and say farewell. Others joined a 25-mile procession that led participants past Marathon, at the intersection of Slauson and Crenshaw in South LA, which has since been renamed Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom Square by the LA City Council after they received petitions totaling more than 500,000 signatures.
It was a homegoing fit for a man loved and respected by so many. Hussle, a former Crips gang member, became the hope for a new day in a community beleaguered by decades of gang violence. Hussle spent his professional music career seeking to redefine the world of gangs. He wanted to end the destruction of gang violence and launched efforts to use the minds and skills of gang members, even those who opposed each other, to build businesses, therefore creating a stake in the communities they once terrorized.
What Hussle attempted to achieve in his short lifetime is materializing in the shadow of his death. Feuding gang members laid down their weapons to attend the funeral and called a truce as they marched together last Sunday, in solidarity and in honor of Hussle. They left candles, flowers and embraced each other while posting the historic moment on social media – something that reportedly hasn’t occurred since 1994 following the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police.
They gathered again at Hussle’s funeral and left after catching a glimpse of what could happen if Hussle’s spirit was allowed to live on within each of them.
But memories are short and habits are hard to change. Many hope this kumbaya moment of peaceful brotherhood and sisterhood will take hold and last forever – the reality is it may be short-lived. Hussle was unlike entertainers known for having deep pockets. He was committed to the community from which he came. He envisioned a future where gang affiliations could be used to build and prosper as opposed to destroy and deplete.
In a podcast interview last December, the Grammy-nominated artist told listeners, “The highest human act is to inspire. Good music inspires you to dance, to get some money, to fall in love, to motivate you. My goal is to inspire you!”