By Representative LaKeshia Myers
This week the music world mourned the untimely passing of hip-hop artist and entrepreneur Ermias Asghedom; popularly known by his nom de plume, Nipsey Hussle. Asghedom was known as a prolific musical artist who prided himself on taking an unconventional route to stardom in the music industry.
Hussle chose not to renew his contract with a major record label early in his career; instead he remained an independent artist. This strategy grew his audience organically; and through the underground distribution of his mixtapes, he earned a cult-like following among hip-hop purists.
Asghedom was also known as a community organizer and entrepreneur. While working on music, he also worked tirelessly to change the social dynamics of the Crenshaw district of South Los Angeles, where he grew up. Hussle operated thriving businesses, which were used to employ local residents and his Marathon Clothing store drew customers from around the world. Asghedom, a former member of the Los Angeles Crips gang used his platform to create social programming aimed at dissuading young people from entering gang life. He also donated funds to aid local schools and neighborhood mentoring programs. At the time of his death, Los Angeles police commissioner Steve Soboroff tweeted that he, chief Michel Moore, and members of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, were slated to meet the next day to, “talk about ways he could help end gang violence and help kids”.
As I reflect on Nipsey Hussle’s life and what he meant to both music and his local community I am reminded of three very important truths:
1) We all have the ability to impact our communities. Martin Luther King once said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” Nipsey Hussle embodied this sentiment by achieving excellence in his given space. While the world knows his name, we all have the ability to create positive outcomes in our own unique ways.
2) Time is not definitive of wisdom. Youth should not be disregarded or dismissed; time waits for no one and should not be wasted. Like Jesus, Nipsey Hussle only lived to age of 33. And similarly, both men were able to live lives that impacted many. In our society longevity is oftentimes lauded, while the abilities and ideas of the young are summarily dismissed. I believe there is room at the table for and wisdom to be shared from young adults. As a millennial woman, I too, have found myself in a perplexing role where I have been both dismissed due to my age, but needed at the table, because my life’s experiences have yielded me equipped for the mission.
3) Hustle is Sold Separately. I am reminded of the adage, “dreams are free, but hustle is sold separately”—meaning you can dream all day long, but until you put forth the effort to make your dreams come true, you will remain stagnant. We control our output; if we do not choose to work harder for the things we want, we will not achieve our goals. You must do more, to earn more.
Nipsey said it best in his song Victory Lap, “I’m finna take it there; This time around I’m a make it clear; Spoke some things into the universe and they appeared; I say it’s worth it, I won’t say it’s fair. Find your purpose or you wasting air”.